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A Good Place to Raise a Boy

a Drama
by Wes Goodrich

COMPANY : Lionheart Theatre Company [WEBSITE]
VENUE : Norcross Community and Cultural Arts Center
ID# 5423

SHOWING : January 17, 2019 - January 17, 2019



The story of Emmett Till, a black teen who was lynched in Money, Mississippi in 1955.

With remarks from Dorothy Parker-Jarrett, first cousin of Emmett "Bobo" Till.

Director Joanie McElroy
Ricky Strider Calvin Bernardo
Mamie Till Bradley Celeste Campbell
J.W. Milam Greg Fitzgerald
Rev. Mose Wright Darrell D Grant
Sheriff Strider Daniel Guyton
Stage Directions Jim Nelson
Click to Submit Cast & Crew Info for this production


Till Death Did Him Part
by playgoer
Friday, January 18, 2019
The story of Emmett Till is well known. A Chicago teenager, he went to spend time with relatives in Mississippi in 1955. His big-city, carefree ways offended whites in rural Mississippi, and a report of him accosting a white woman resulted in him being beaten and shot to death. Two white half-brothers accused of his murder were acquitted. As Dorothy Parker-Jarrett, Till’s cousin, reports, newspaper coverage of the killing and trial raised racial consciousness in the country and preceded Rosa Park’s bus incident by just a couple of months.

Wes Goodrich has dramatized the story of Emmett Till utilizing a cast of black and white ensemble members. His copious stage directions call for groups of blacks and whites to observe parts of the action and to deconstruct various settings in which scenes occur. This would make for a technically challenging full production, replete with film clips and almost filmic lighting effects. Joanie McElroy has directed a staged reading that reduces the complexity of blocking by having actors move forward to music stands for individual scenes, then move back to a line of seats upstage to sit. Reading of full stage directions gives almost novelistic context for the action.

The play has undeniable emotional impact. A few things don’t quite ring true, though. The sheriff and Emmett’s mother each have a long speech that provides background in perhaps too much of a reportorial style. Emmett’s love of comic books surfaces at the start of the show, but a white boy’s mention of his love of comic books later in the show goes nowhere. The audience is being primed to expect some comic book-related interaction between the two, or at least a neatly realized parallel in their lives, but the expectation is unrealized.

Acting is fine across the board, with Jessica Wise doing terrific work in differentiating Southern teen Willie May from NAACP worker Ruby Hurley. Celeste Campbell brings solid emotion to Emmett’s mother, and Darrell Grant captures the preaching style of Rev. Mose Wright, Emmett’s uncle and host in Mississippi. The whites are appropriately red-necky. Sound effects help create the world of the play, although occasionally lasting a bit long and/or coming in too loud. All in all, "A Good Place to Raise a Boy" is a worthwhile dramatization of a pivotal event in black history by a young playwright. [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]


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