Last night my daughter Adalyn and I returned to the beautiful Majestic Theatre in downtown Dallas for Lyric Stage’s performance of Abyssinia. This musical is based upon the novel “Marked By Fire” by Joyce Carol Thomas & was written by James Racheff and Ted Kociolek. It was an honor to get to actually meet Mr. Racheff who was sitting just two rows behind us. What an incredible treat!
This story takes place in Stillwater, Oklahoma at the turn of the 20th century and is centered around Abyssinia Jackson, a young girl born with the gift of song and a voice that delights her entire community. “Abby” is brought up in the church by her parents and the mama of the town, a folk-healer named Mother Vera.
Unfortunately, like Job in the Bible, Abby suffers several devastating trials and her faith in both man and God is destroyed and she vows to never sing again. Mother Vera takes her under her wing to teach her the ways of a healer. In learning to relieve pain in others, Abyssinia begins to heal herself. At the play’s conclusion, Abyssinia finds her voice again and rejoins the community.
Abyssinia is played by Jaden Dominique, who at just eighteen years old captivated the entire theatre with her brilliant and emotional performance. Her voice is exquisite and from the first note I had chills. You could feel both the joy and the pain of Abby deep in your soul. It literally brought tears to my eyes. I was shocked to learn that this was her first professional performance. Jaden has a bright future ahead of her that I am excited to follow. What an incredibly gifted young woman. (Side note: she was Adalyn’s favorite performer, so we stayed after so she could meet her. Adalyn was star struck and so giddy and Jaden was so kind and gracious. She is still talking about it. It truly made her night.)
The role of Mother Vera was reprised by Carol Dennis. WOW! There is so much to say about her performance and yet words aren’t enough. Carol’s portrayal of Mother Vera exuded power and compassion. Every time she opened her mouth it felt like you were being hugged by the best mama ever (I want her there with me next time I’m going through a trial!). The chemistry between Carol and Jaden was an incredible thing to witness. During her song “Honey and Lemon” in Act 2, people were clapping, raising their hands and even standing. It was so powerful.
J. Dontray Davis, played the minister and his performance of “Pickin’ Up The Pieces” in Act 2 had all of us clapping and praising like we were literally in church! I loved every second of it! Feleceia Benton’s portrayal of Trembling Sally was profound. The pain of loss that Sally felt was palpable and, as a mother, I could understand what caused her to act the way she did.
The chemistry of the entire cast was evident from start to finish. They told a story with their hearts and their voices. There were so many incredible moments that I would be writing all day to list them all. I knew from the day I saw the video of the table read online that this was going to be an unforgettable show and one that would stir up every emotion.
Thank you Lyric Stage for selecting Abyssinia as part of your 2019-2020 “Wonder Women” season. It was a perfect choice, especially in the middle of Black History Month. What a beautiful story of the power of the love of God, family and community. I was forever impacted by this story and this cast and so was my daughter.
I HIGHLY recommend that you CLICK HERE now to get your tickets to see this incredible show. You need to hurry though, because it is only being shown this weekend. Their remaining shows are today, Saturday, February 15th at 2:30pm and 7:30pm and tomorrow, Sunday, February 16th at 2:30pm
The next show in the 2019-2020 Lyric Stage season will be Cinderella, which will be held from June 12-14 back at the Majestic Theater. We can’t wait for what I’m sure will be another memorable performance. CLICK HERE to read more or to purchase your tickets to this show.