Sistas: The Musical

Sistas: The Musical

Sistas: The Musical had my head bouncing, my toes tapping and my off key voice singing (to myself, of course). This off Broadway production is a hidden jewel and a musical delight.

Back in September, I started compiling my list of things to do for my Curator’s Short List for the rest of the year. This is where I identify a list of restaurants where I want to eat, shopping venues I want to patronize and plays I want to see. Sistas: The Musical made the top of my list. I am glad that I finally got a chance to see it!

Sistas is the musical journey of five women who come together to commemorate the loss of the matriarch of their family, their recently departed Grandmother / Great Grandmother Alice. The play weaves together the lives of three Black sisters, one Black teenaged daughter and one Caucasian sister-in-law, as they share both cherished and difficult moments from their Grandmother’s life and their pasts. The cast of characters includes: Simone, the eldest sister and single parent raising a teenage daughter;  Tamika, the teenager who is more interested in her boyfriend than family history; Gloria, the god fearing sister who recites bible verses to cope with her siblings and life; Roberta, the revolution loving sister who is funny and full of life but hiding a painful secret; and Heather, the sister-in-law, who holds her own as she inserts herself into family business. Sistas meshes generational issues, racial politics and the personality differences among these women with an interesting play list of music.

What differentiates this production is the musical selection and the way it transports you along with these women through the decades as they reminisce about their Grandmother’s life and share their own experiences. Taken from the study guide on the Sistas website (http://www.sistasthemusical.com/StudyGuide-Intro.htm), the production “uses popular music sung by African-American women from 1919 through the present time, in order to show social change for Black women and society in general. The music’s trajectory is revealed to go from “Naming the Pain” (A Good Man is Hard to Find) to “Framing the Problem”(I am Not My Hair), to “Proclaiming the Joy” (Just Fine and Golden). This parallels the story of African-American women and their emerging sense of empowerment.”

Here are the artists and songs featured in Sistas: The Musical:

Year recorded song was released or hit charts
Name of song
Writer
First recorded performer
Top place on charts
Traditional Oh Happy Day Traditional
Traditional Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Around (ensemble) Traditional
1919 A Good Man is Hard to Find (Eddie Green) Roberta Eddie Green Bessie Smith #9
1922 My Man Charles / Pollack / Willemetz / Yvain Fanny Brice (Billie Holiday in 1938) #9
1922 ‘Tain’t Nobody’s Business (sung by Billie Holiday) Robbins / Grainger Bessie Smith #40
1931 That’s Why Darkies Were Born (Kate Smith) record Lew Brown / Ray Henderson Kate Smith #12
1933 Stormy Weather (Lena Horne) Aimonw Ted Koehler / Harold Arlen Ethel Waters (later Lena Horne) #1
1939 Strange Fruit Lewis Allen Billie Holiday N/A
1941 God Bless the Child Billie Holiday, Arthur Herzog, Jr. Billie Holiday N/A
1956 Precious Lord Dorsey / Allen Mahalia Jackson N/A
1964 Images William Warey Cuny & Nina Simone Nina Simone N/A
1964 Shoop Shoop Song Rudy Clark Betty Wright #6
1965 Baby I’m Yours Van McCoy Barbara Lewis #11
1965 Stop! In the Name of Love Dozier / Holland / Holland The Supremes #1
1966 Keep Me Hangin’ On – Ensemble Holland / Lamont / Dozier / Holland The Supremes #1
1966 Sweet Talkin’ Guy (Chiffons) Roberta, others Doug Morris / Eliot Greensberg / Barbara J. Baer The Chiffons #10
1966 Nowhere to Run Dozier / Holland / Dozier Martha & the Vandellas #8
1967 Say a Little Prayer Bacharach / David Dionne Warwick #4
1967 R.E.S.P.E.C.T. Otis Redding Aretha Franklin #1
1968 Society’s Child (Janis Ian) Heather Janis Ian Janis Ian #14
1969 I’m Gonna Make You Love Me Gamble / Huff / Ross The Supremes #2
1979 I Will Survive Fekaris / Perren Gloria Gaynor #1
1979 Hot Stuff Tamika Pete Bellotte, Keith Forsey, & Harold Faltermeier Donna Summer #1
1979 We Are Family Bernard Edwards / Nile Rodgers Sister Sledge #2
1987 Let’s Wait a While Andrews / Harris / Jackson /Lewis Janet Jackson #2
1988 Control Harris / Lewis / Jackson Janet Jackson #5
1993 I Have Nothing Foster / Thompson Jenner Whitney Houston #4
1995 You Gotta Be Des’ree Weekes / Ashley Ingram Des’ree #5
1997 Tyrone Hurt / Wright Eryka Badu N/A
2001 A Woman’s Worth Alicia J. Augello-Cook / Erika Rose Alicia Keyes #3
2002 Beautiful Linda Perry Christina Aguilera #3
2003 Milkshake The Neptunes Kellis #3
2004 Golden Bell / Robinson, Robinson / Scott Jill Scott #1 (album)
2006 I Am Not My Hair Simpson / Sanders / Ramsey india.arie (Simpson) #97
2007 Just Fine (Mary J. Blige) – ensemble Alexander /Blige / Nash / Stewart Mary J. Blige #22
2008 Single Ladies (Put a Ring On It) Beyonce Knowles / Christopher Stewart / Terius Nash / Thaddis Herrell Beyoncé #1

 

If you are looking for a great off Broadway production, with great music, Sistas:The Musical is highly recommended by the Museum Of UnCut Funk.

For more information about tickets and group rates please visit : http://www.sistasthemusical.com/

Sistas: The Musical

Written by Dorothy Marcic

Produced by Hinton Battle

Starring:

Tracey Conyer Lee
Lexi Rhoades
April Nixon
Jennifer Fouché
Amy Goldberger

St. Luke’s Theater
308 West 46th Street
New York, New York
http://www.facebook.com/SistastheMusical

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