AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF)– Next weekend, you’ll have the chance to catch the Augusta Jr. Players‘ production of Sistas, which is the longest-running African-American Off-Broadway musical.
It’s a collection of stories and interviews dealing with women’s issues, single motherhood, civil rights issues, and social justice, as well as walks of faith. Roy Lewis is the artistic director of the Augusta Jr. Players. He’s here with me today along with one of the actresses, Charlissa Smith, who plays Gloria.
Lewis is particular about the material he selects for youth theatre groups, because it’s got to make them think.
“You know, we select material that we want to engage you, we want to empower you, we want to educate, enlighten, and then we want to entertain you.”
All qualities expressed in “Sistas,” written by Dorothy Marcic.
“It’s a beautiful collection of true stories and interviews that she collected and composed into a musical. And so when we’re listening to the stories that each of the women come forth — and Charlissa is brilliant.”
Lewis calls her character, Gloria, one of the backbone characters of the show. Her journey is about faith and how she, as a widow, trusts in her walks of faith.
“And we cover music from Billie Holiday all the way up to Beyoncé. So it’s peppered with lots of great music. And so the writer has done a brilliant job of paralleling music that goes along with each of the stories.”
Lewis says the five young women in the cast have “really done a beautiful job” of being honest in the storytelling and developing their character arc that take you on a journey.
“They go through life changes. But at the end, it all comes down to the fact that they love each other, they’re going to be there for each other. And that’s what being human is.”
Smith says protraying her character, who sings Nina Simone and some Mahalia Jackson, makes her feel like she has some big shoes to fill.
“It’s really neat. I don’t know how to explain it. It’s big shoes to fill. But at the same time, it makes you feel good because knowing that you’re a backbone and that you’re needed is really — it makes you feel good. She has a lot to say, and what she says she stands on, and she’s not going to let anybody deter her or make her feel that she’s wrong. But she also does it with love and care and she makes sure that she’s not breaking you down.”
The performance dates are October 27th and 28th at 7:30 p.m., and then on October 29th at 4 p.m. It’s at the Kroc Center on Broad Street. You can go to augustaplayers.org for more information and for tickets.