Jessica Sharpenstein, Erica Goodman, Adama Abramson, Cindy Smith, son, Cindy Smith, Susan McNeese Lynch, Brenda Moran, Susan McNeese Lynch, and Karole Spangler. photo: Eve Theatre
Gloria: A Life
By Emily Mann
Directed by Scout Larken
A review by Kate Barry
Entire contents are copyright © 2021 by Kate Barry. All rights reserved.
You might know her from her aviator sunglasses or her groundbreaking magazine or perhaps her unflinching convictions: she is Gloria Steinem. She is one of the strongest voices of feminism whose work for equal rights spans several decades. She helped rally for the ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment, pushed for civil rights, and is still fighting for women’s rights in the #metoo era. Eve Theater presents Gloria: A Life at the Mex Theater. This multimedia production is a celebration of a renowned voice of women’s rights that we are still fighting for to this day.
Comprised of a seven-person ensemble, the production operates in the round with actual footage of Steinem’s interviews and speeches during key moments of her life. Dressed in groovy costumes, toting protest signs, and hollering for change, the cast works to paint a picture of the important things that matter. Resonating with current events in Texas, a pivotal scene revolves around an abortion support group. Sharing personal truths and struggles, this “100% female experience” for the fight to have control of choice was stirring and powerful. The play delves into Steinem’s own experience with this personal choice as she meets with her doctor. And while she swears to not repeat the doctor’s name who terminates her pregnancy, the brave urge to “do what you want with your life” is unwavering.
As Gloria, Karole Spangler is a strong and steady force in her portrayal. Narrating her own life, Spangler brings out the insecurities and struggles Steinem faced in her early life. Through the growth and challenges Steinem faces as a freelance writer going undercover at the Playboy mansion and as a minor staff writer, Spangler steeps in the moments which allows for her character to grow in confidence and persistence.
Through Steinem’s interactions, Spangler explores the strong relationships that made her who she is. Susan Mcneese Lynch provides a quiet portrayal of Steinem’s mother who struggled with mental illness for many years. Lynch and Spangler bring the complicated nature of mothers and daughters to light in brief scenes while showing the lasting effects mental illness has on a family. Cindy Smith is a brash Bella Abzug, complete with her signature hat. Smith brings a take no prisoners approach to the woman who fought for equal rights and was a mentor for Steinem. Erica Goodman is a key player in her portrayal of civil rights leader, Florence Kennedy. She brings a spark and fire that is not only a motivation for Steinem but for the audience as well.
If you choose to see this show, and I hope you do, just know you will be required to wear a mask, show proof of vaccination and identification upon entering the Kentucky Center. The only access to the building is on the floor level. Equally important is the post-show conversation. The ensemble invites its audience to voice reactions and feedback with local leaders. On Friday night, I was fortunate to witness local poet, Hannah Drake leads the discussion. As the fight for change on many levels continues, for a brief moment there was a moment of community as we celebrated what Gloria and others have worked hard to achieve.
Featuring Adama Abramson, Erica Goodman, Susan McNeese Lynch, Brenda Moran, Jessica Sharpenstein, Cindy Smith, and Karole Spangler
Gloria: A Life
October 1 – 10, 2021
Eve Theater Company
At The Kentucky Center
501 West Main Street
Louisville, KY 40202
Kate Barry earned her Bachelors in English with a Theater minor from Bellarmine University in 2008. She has worked with many different companies around town including Kentucky Shakespeare Festival, Bunbury Theater, Louisville Repertory Company, Walden Theater, Finnigan Productions and you have probably purchased tickets from her at that little performing arts center on Main Street as well. In 2012, her short play “PlayList” won festival favorite in the Finnigan Festival of Funky Fresh Fun. She has written for LEO Weekly and TheatreLouisville.com as well. Thanks for reading!