Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called Marie Christine. The words and music were by Michael John LaChiusa. It was directed by Lili-Anne Brown. The musical direction was by Aaron Benham and it was choreographed by Breon Arzell. It was about a woman named Marie Christine (Kyrie Courter) who lived in New Orleans in the 1890s. Her mother (Nicole Michelle Haskins) had magical powers to do things for people, and they would come to her for help. Marie Christine also has those powers that her mother passed down to her. But her brothers Paris (Averis Anderson) and Jean (Curtis Bannister) don't want her to use her powers; they want her to get married to someone who was respectable in their class. Their money came from their white father, who never married their mother, who was black. Marie Christine fell in love with a man named Dante (Ken Singleton) who was white and was a ship's captain and it seemed like he'd had been with a lot of women over his travels. The musical is about how their relationship falls apart and how she gets revenge. It is about blind devotion, the limits of revenge, and guilt. I think this is a really good show. It is beautifully done and intriguing to watch.
Marie Christine and her mother really had a close bond, and it is sad to see Marie Christine on her own, but she does really well for herself--I mean, until she meets Dante. I wish we had gotten to see more of the mother-daughter relationship and the mother passing her knowledge down to her. But when Dante arrives he messes up Marie Christine's life because she doesn't think of herself anymore. It is really sad to see her taken over by something that doesn't stay. She spends the whole rest of her life devoted to this one person and gets no devotion in return. When her mother sings to her about how her grandfather is the sun, she is basically saying you came from something better than this and you deserve something better than this. This story is based off of Medea, and her grandfather was Helios, the sun god. I liked how they made the meaning more figurative in this story. Marie Christine and her mother had both gone through similar things with their partners, so when they both sing "Your Grandfather is the Sun" to their children in different circumstances but with the same intention, it is just heartbreaking. Especially when you find out how Marie Christine's relationship with her children ends. Also Nicole and Kyrie's voices are so great; during the songs where they were singing to their children, their voices were very sweet and they were singing a beautiful lullaby. But then they could also belt when they are angry or trying to really get their point across.
I thought "A Month Ago He Comes Here" was a really good song and it got across an outside point of view on the relationship between Marie Christine and Dante. The maids (Katherine Bourné and Neala Barron) are singing so it gave you an insider outside point of view. It was a valid point of view but not from within the actual relationship. When you are seeing the inside of the relationship it seems like they just love each other, but from the outside it seems crazy. The show also has other perspectives, like when Marie Christine and Dante go to a party and everyone is gossiping about their affair, but it is great to see the roots of the gossip in the song with the maids. It helps you understand the relationship not just from the blind world these two people are in.
There are not a lot of funny songs in the show. Most of the songs are very emotional and are usually saying all the things that are going to go wrong because of a specific action. The song "A Lovely Wedding" is sung by Magdalena (Barron), who is a singer and proprietor of a saloon who wanted to have children and she thought Marie Christine could give her something to help her do that. I really like how the song was funny but still dark. It was basically saying that it was a great wedding, but there were things that were off. It seemed like it was a huge mistake, and they ran out of cake, which seems like the biggest crime of all! There wasn't anything that really seemed like there was anything that made it a great wedding, which brought the comedy out. It was effective because even though it was humorous, the song was also slightly eerie. I think Neala Barron's voice really emphasized each part of the song and made you picture each part of the wedding. And her voice is just great.
People who would like this show are people who like maids' perspectives, exploring the downfall of magical women, and not-so-lovely weddings. I think that people should definitely go see this show. It has beautiful songs, great performances, and stunning choreography. I really liked it!
Photos: Katie Stanley