Theater "On Sugarland"
In Previews and Needing Serious Work.
The opening of "On Sugarland" has been further delayed, I am now told that March 3erd press will be allowed in to see it. After seeing the show tonight, I can understand the reticence for NYTW not opening "On Sugarland". The shows plot is a mobile home-lined cul-de-sac where grief is persuasive. In the center stage is a memorial of boots, helmets, dog tags as well as other personal items of the fallen soldiers as a reminder of its communities' loss due to war (we never are told which war) in this two hour forty-five-minute play. What seems like daily rituals (never truly put forth) of singing, dancing and shouting, writers Whitney White and Aleshea Harris (What to Send Up When It All Comes Down) are vague in a lot the messages put forth in this play. Whitney White who also directs this play will need to seriously adjust this play before it opens.
Some of the issues here needing to be address is how the actors are placed in the show... movements, the business and body language all need to be tightened, adjusted and some need to be dropped all together. The shows tempo too needs to be smother. In some of the scenes, the audience is either jolted or lured to sleep; sometimes the audience cannot hear the actors putting forth their lines. While the show does have some enjoyable moments, they are too far and few.
Where the show gets really lost is the vast difference between the shows main characters and the backing actors, The Rowdies. The shows main cast for the most part are good, particularly Evelyn (Stephanie Berry) and Sadie (KiKi Layne). While Billy Eugene Jones who plays Saul is good at times, he is not so good at others and the same can be said for Lizan Mitchell, Adeola Role and Jacob Daniel Smith.
When the show brings in The Rowdy characters, you can see a vast difference in the talent level. Taylor Willams who casted this show was short sighted in the talent pool, and it was evident all evening throughout the performance. Watching The Rowdy actors on stage with the main cast was like watching to different shows in that the talent differential was very evident.
Adam Rigg's scenic design was resourceful but not overwhelming. Qween Jean's costumes were uninspiring. Amith Chandrashaker's lighting was, however, very good. The lighting throughout the performance drew you into the play and made the audience pay attention to what was up onstage. But even the great lighting could not save this play as the writing is weak and the acting was unsure of itself because of the direction never gives the actors the room to broaden the play. Rather than conviction, the actors went through the motions without any depth in their emotions.
With opening night coming soon, "On Sugarland" has its work cut out for itself. With a lot of pre-show buzz about this play, tonight the show did not add up to the hype. If time allows, I will review this show when it opens and I hope for the shows sake that it tightens itself up or, my guess is that it will be panned and left for dead.
The New York Theater Workshop is located at 79 East 4th Street, New York, N.Y.
The show was supposed to have opened on February 23erd but has now been postponed till early March.
"On Sugarland" opened tonight and as i said in my first briefing, it is a disaster! It seems that nothing was worked out in previews that made this any better, actors were indecisive, lines were blown, and the Rowdy cast were just awful. Maybe "On Sugarland" fell under the avalanche of press it received before previews even begun. Maybe it was the woke crowd that wanted it to be received as a great work of art. In the end, however, "On Sugarland" is just another play that will come and go with little to no fan fair.
"On Sugarland" is the symptom to what off off Broadway has become... bad writing, directing and acting.
About the Creator
Robert M Massimi.
I have been writing on theater since 1982. A graduate from Manhattan College B.S. A member of Alpha Sigma Lambda, which recognizes excellence in both English and Science. I have produced 12 shows on and off Broadway. I've seen over700 shows
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