When I left “Sistas: The Musical” on Saturday evening, I had a lot of reflecting to do, because this show has many layers. On the surface, it is a marvelous time listening to a talented cast of women singing some great hits from Black female artists like Billie Holiday, Bessie Smith, Mahalia Jackson, Diana Ross and Gloria Gaynor, bringing you into modern times with singers like Beyonce, Alicia Keys, Mary J. Blige and Macy Gray.
The songs take you through a history of music that includes women revealing their feelings through the blues, gospel, love songs and spirited songs declaring they don’t care if anyone else approves of their men. Other songs simply told men off and displayed the strong spirit of the Black woman.
Selected songs in the show include “Oh Happy Day,” “Ain’t Nobody’s Business,” “God Bless the Child,” “Precious Lord,” “Strange Fruit,” “You Just Keep Me Hanging On,” “Call Tyrone,” “Single Ladies” and “I Will Survive.”
Playwright Dorothy Marcic found a perfect way to bring all of these songs together into a story that demands your attention. As the female members of a family gather to go through the attic of their deceased great-grandmother, they tell stories of the past and discover materials that she left behind that divulge more information about what Black women have endured.
There are three sisters: Roberta (Jennifer Fouche), Gloria (Tracey Conyer Lee) and Simone (April Nixon). Also in the play is Tamika (Lexi Rhoades), Simone’s daughter, and Heather (Amy Goldberger), a white sister-in-law. As these ladies go through the items in the attic, they talk about how their great-grandmother had been a maid and how her white employer spoke down to her.
They talk of the hurt the family has endured due to racism, when one of the male members chose to be an entrepreneur and was killed by the Klan in the South. There are many revealing family stories that are discussed. Each character is also revealed, as they have issues that need to come to the surface.
On the final level, this story is about the strength and power of the Black woman, and it is a beautiful and uplifting story to see and share. I took my 9-year-old daughter and she had a marvelous time. All five of the actresses have fabulous singing voices and clearly put their hearts into every number.
You will find yourself singing along, clapping and definitely sympathizing with what these characters are going through, as well as identifying with what the elder Black women in their lives had to endure for them to be the women they are today. “Sistas: The Musical” is an acknowledgment of where we came from and who we have become today!
Marcic’s story is perfectly directed by Kenneth Ferrone and is presented by multiple Tony Award winner Hinton Battle and Jenkay LLC. It is playing at St. Luke’s Theatre, at 308 W. 46th St., in an open-ended run. For more information, visit www.sistasthemusical.com.