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Off Broadway

MTC’s Neat Flies Beautifully Up High on the Wings of a Dove

MTC’s Neat Flies Beautifully Up High on the Wings of a Dove

On a clear day“, is the bookend-beginning and end of this powerfully told origin tale grown strong and true on those 1943 fields of the rural South. Returning to the MTC to perform her magically powerful and engaging one woman storytelling show, Charlayne Woodard (Broadway’s Ain’t Misbehavin’; Primary Stages’ The Night Watcher) fearlessly paints with perfect strokes a stunning portrait of a young woman coming of age in America, embracing and wrapping her conflicted arm over the shoulder of her disabled aunt, Neat. The detailed journey, in distinct chapters of revelation, unpack a profound understanding of what it means to be “chocolate brown” in America, listening to the beautiful sound of snow while never forgetting the frightening stories that are dishonestly told on the televised news.

Charlayne Woodard in Primary Stages’ The Night Watcher

Ignoring the danger of the leopards waiting in the dark to nip at their legs, Woodard finds a ‘say it loud‘ way with subtlety, to age herself, alter herself, and realign herself inside and out, to deliver a difficult story of entrenched prejudice and racial violence. She does this with an expertise that enlightens and pulls us in, while thoroughly embracing the humanity of that awkward teenage/familial bond that helps alter her perspective of the world. A simple curiosity is delivered that shifts her senses around her snow bound feet, and pushes her to expand her vision and her historic roots.

It is a tale of tests, daily tests, that are saved and played out with cleverly delivered tales, as Woodard beautifully tries to make sense of the specialness and wonder of Neat. With no shots of their betrayed faces in the history books and on the news of the day that surround her Northern experience, the storytelling rises up, flying through the air as if Neat had wings like a dove. Spinning through tender and heartfelt constructions of teenage fashion, hairdos and pop culture, Neat flips to a fro with wisely crafted precision, etching a clear portrait that, hopefully, will undo the spell of poisonous systematic racism and open up the sky, on this certainly clear day, for us all to see. “Life doesn’t get much better than this,” she tells us, and we couldn’t agree more. “It tastes like….yeah!

Originally produced by MTC in 1997, Charlayne Woodard returns to present her one-woman show, Neat as part of MTC’s Curtain Call. Sign up at MTC (click here to register) for the FREE stream available now through April 29.

Off Broadway
@#frontmezzjunkies

My love for theater started when I first got involved in high school plays and children's theatre in London, Ontario, which led me—much to my mother’s chagrin—to study set design, directing, and arts administration at York University in Toronto. But rather than pursuing theater as a career (I did produce and design a wee bit), I became a self-proclaimed theater junkie and life-long supporter. I am not a writer by trade, but I hope to share my views and feelings about this amazing experience we are so lucky to be able to see here in NYC, and in my many trips to London, Enlgand, Chicago, Toronto, Washington, and beyond. Living in London, England from 1985 to 1986, NYC since 1994, and on my numerous theatrical obsessive trips to England, I've seen as much theater as I can possibly afford. I love seeing plays. I love seeing musicals. If I had to choose between a song or a dance, I'd always pick the song. Dance—especially ballet—is pretty and all, but it doesn’t excite me as, say, Sondheim lyrics. But that being said, the dancing in West Side Story is incredible! As it seems you all love a good list, here's two. FAVORITE MUSICALS (in no particular order): Sweeney Todd with Patti Lupone and Michael Cerveris in 2005. By far, my most favorite theatrical experience to date. Sunday in the Park with George with Jenna Russell (who made me sob hysterically each and every one of the three times I saw that production in England and here in NYC) in 2008 Spring Awakening with Jonathan Groff and Lea Michele in 2007 Hedwig and the Angry Inch (both off-Boadway in 1998 and on Broadway in 2014, with Neal Patrick Harris, but also with Michael C. Hall and John Cameron Mitchell, my first Hedwig and my last...so far), Next To Normal with Alice Ripley (who I wish I had seen in Side Show) in 2009 FAVORITE PLAYS (that’s more difficult—there have been so many and they are all so different): Angels in American, both on Broadway and off Lettice and Lovage with Dame Maggie Smith and Margaret Tyzack in 1987 Who's Afraid of Virginai Woolf with Tracy Letts and Amy Morton in 2012 Almost everything by Alan Ayckbourn, but especially Woman in Mind with Julia McKenzie in 1986 And to round out the five, maybe Proof with Mary Louise Parker in 2000. But ask me on a different day, and I might give you a different list. These are only ten theatre moments that I will remember for years to come, until I don’t have a memory anymore. There are many more that I didn't or couldn't remember, and I hope a tremendous number more to come. Thanks for reading. And remember: read, like, share, retweet, enjoy. For more go to frontmezzjunkies.com

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