Republished by kind permission from Neals Paper.
Richer and more to the point than its premiere staging earlier this century, Regina Taylor’s CROWNS is an entertaining and telling musical about traditions among African-American women and how they are handed down from generation to generation, even when a current generation, read today’s, is reluctant.
Taylor gives in a bit to city ills and excesses being cured by a dose of home roots in the country, but the visit to the rural, religious South is worth the journey. For us and the primary character, Yolanda, played with depth and variety by Gabrielle Beckford. Hats, or crowns, are symbols of the African tradition of women adorning their hair with fabric and accessories. The parade of chapeaux is not as extensive as I’d have like (although the McCarter house left lobby features a great display), but the story, meaning, and pride those hats symbolize is wonderfully told. Music runs from fine original pieces to the traditional. The cast is uniformly good, but Latice Crawford takes you to a vaulted spiritual plane when she launches into “His Eye on the Sparrow.” Let me tell you, you believe!!! You also feel some spirit from Dianne McIntyre’s terrific dances.
CROWNS, McCarter Theatre, University Place and College Road, Princeton, N.J.] March 13-April 1, 2018; https://www.mccarter.org/crowns