Madalena Provo, Erika Grob and Kayla Jackmon
‘Florence Reece Goes to Camp’ by Diana Grisanti
That High Lonesome Sound. Photo-Bill Brymer
That High Lonesome Sound
By Jeff Augustin, Diana Grisanti, Cory Hinkle and Charise Castro Smith
Original music created by the 2014-15 Acting Apprentice Company in collaboration with Ben Sollee
Directed by Pirronne Yousefzadeh
Review by Annette Skaggs
Entire contents copyright © 2015 by Annette Skaggs. All rights reserved
There is a part of me that shrieks with delight when it is time for the Humana Festival at the esteemed Actors Theatre of Louisville. What that means is the introduction of new works to the world for an estimated four to six weeks of exciting theater. As we all know, sometimes a show works and is ready to shine its light upon the world, while others may need a bit more spit and polish. All in all, the plays are entertaining, if not heart breaking and/or thought provoking.
Enter That High Lonesome Sound, a show with eight scenes showcasing the 2014-15 ATL Acting Apprentice Company. The 20 members of the company weave in and out of the various acts with determination and energy with some of the actors playing up to three or four different roles.
So what is That High Lonesome Sound? In the first scene, Jeff Augustin’s A Buried Treasure, Kayla Jackmon plays a woman who tells us of her roots and traditions in the hills of Kentucky. Second scene, Dot and the Guitar, by Charise Castro Smith, depicts a family of five children surviving and struggling without the presence of their father. In the third scene, Diana Grisanti’s Florence Reece Goes to Camp, there is a movement to a little bit more of a social/environmental conscious climate script. Punk/Bitch, also by Mr. Augustin, is certainly Urban with a well-integrated Bluegrass infusion. In scene five’s The Peace of Wild Things, by Cory Hinkle, we are introduced to a family that moves away from the hills only to return to look for their estranged sister. In Miss Faye and the Banjo, scene six and another contribution by Ms. Smith, the audience is given a little comedy. We then go South of the Border for another piece from MS. Grisanti, Spring Break Dos Mil Quince Dos Mil Quince, and the aptly titled eighth scene, It Sounds Like This, is again by Mr. Hinkle.
Woven throughout the scenes, even though not used in every instance, there are elements of music, most notably Bluegrass and Country. I greatly appreciated the re-imagined Man of Constant Sorrow in scenes four and seven. The collaboration that the Acting Apprentice Company had with Ben Sollee was certainly evident in capturing the spirit of the deep-rooted musical heritage of Kentucky. Despite a few off-key notes here and there, the music was certainly an important and integral element of the evening.
The theme? The voices and sounds of the hills of Eastern Kentucky and the surrounding area. From the coalmines of Harlan County to the lights and glimmer of Lexington.
Overall I truly enjoyed the show, although I found The Peace of Wild Things a bit slow, although it fit the theme. Miss Faye and the Banjo? I’m still trying to figure out how it truly fit into the whole of the play other than being there for a bit of folklore and admittedly offering one of the funniest moments of the evening.
If you will indulge me, the writing in Dot and the Guitar particularly struck me because of the respect that each child offered to their mother (voiced by Ali Burch), as well as the singing of Blue Moon of Kentucky. As for the presentation? It was very well executed.
There were a couple of times that I fear that I missed a line of dialogue or two because of where I was sitting (in front of some very chatty people) or because of the dialogue being directed to the other side of the theater, it did not deter from the show on the whole.
Go to That High Lonesome Sound and experience a sense of what life is like in the eyes of these characters, portrayed with heart and soul by this talented ensemble of up and coming actors. It truly did my “Arts heart” good to see a theatre, filled to capacity, late on a Friday night. I would do it again and again.
That High Lonesome Sound
March 27-April 12, 2015
Part of The 39th Annual Humana Festival of New American Plays
Actors Theatre of Louisville
316 West Main Street
Louisville, KY 40202
[box_light]Annette Skaggs is a heavily involved Arts Advocate here in Louisville and freelance professional opera singer who has performed throughout Europe, St. Louis, Cincinnati, Boulder, Little Rock, Peoria, Chicago, New York and of course Louisville. Aside from her singing career she has been a production assistant for Kentucky Opera, New York Opera and Northwestern University. She has a 25+ year knowledge of the Classical Arts.[/box_light]