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June 24, 2005

Luster of “Constant Star”

Broadway World (NY):


Civil rights leader, journalist, suffragette, political candidate, wife and mother Ida B. Wells was such a powerful force against tyranny and injustice at the turn of the century that it took five women to portray her in Tazewell Thompson’s thrilling “Constant Star” presented by the Merrimack Repertory Theatre in Lowell, Mass. At times as a quintet, at times individually, all five actresses brought impassioned interpretations to the inspirational writings and speeches of one of America’s most outspoken and effective activists against segregation and lynching.

Enhancing the power of Thompson’s smoothly constructed narrative were 20 stirring Negro Spirituals sung a cappella in five-part harmony by the cast. With the intensity of a spirited gospel choir, the women’s rich, expressive, and penetrating voices filled the theater with chords of pain, hope, anger, celebration, determination, and triumph. The audience couldn’t help but join in with accompanying applause.

Merrimack Rep’s production of “Constant Star” also boasted pitch-perfect sound design, evocative lighting, a flexible yet inviting multi-period industrialized set, and elegant, decades-spanning costumes that lent a timeless texture to Wells’ career. “Constant Star” shone with a brightness magnified five-fold. It was a luminous production of a fascinating life.

Posted by acapnews at June 24, 2005 12:09 AM