"For the Last Time" is a Must See

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“For the Last Time” is being presented at the Clurman Theater located at 410 West 42nd Street in Manhattan. Touted as a jazz musical, the play tells a bitter sweet story of four people who are forced to face life with fate lurking in the wings waiting to challenge them and shake them out of their structured lives.

The show starts off with a rather sly character (Reggie D. White) who challenges the audience to determine who he is and why he remains in the shadows observing and manipulating the four friends consisting of Miriam (Brittany Campbell); Hilda (Anita Welch); Kenyon (Carl Clemons-Hopkins), and Donatello (Britton Smith), each who are opening a new chapter of their lives. However, things do not go according to plan.

Miriam is a beautiful woman who sculpts and paints but is very guarded. She wants love but is afraid of it. She desires change yet is haunted by a past that contains such deep dark secrets that even though touched on in the play, the depth of these secrets are never quite explained. The observer feels like there are pieces missing. Miriam is the most haunted among the friends.

This is a play about growing up, realizations and loss of innocence. It is a play of winners and losers. All of this is done in accompaniment to a wonderful 8-piece jazz ensemble who sits front and center on stage, complimented by the exceptional singing of the entire cast.  The music and lyrics written by Nancy Harlow sets a poignant and romantic mood.  The scenic design by John McDermott is creative and inventive.  Jason Veasey and Kim Exum make up the remainder of the cast.

Some of the songs include “This Life Is Mine,” “When in Rome,” “Carnival,” “Dear Miriam,” and “You Gotta Do What You Gotta Do.”

Set in 1950s New Orleans, the audience becomes invested in the flavor and vitality of the town. Through Kenyon’s night club one becomes caught up in both the allure and seediness of New Orleans.  We are enchanted by its soulful jazz and spiritual mysticism. The play takes us down the smarmy streets and avenues made gay by Mardi gras and even to the gravesite of the historic Voodoo priestess Marie Laveau's whose burial ground in Saint Louis Cemetery, has been surrounded by mystery and is one of New Orleans’s historic tourist attractions, fascinating both Christians and pagans alike.

Club owner Kenyon has realized his dream after years of working toward it and fighting to keep it no matter the criminal element that at times frequents the club, His unrequited admiration for Miriam winds up taking several turns before it brings him true happiness.  Kenyon is the most practical of the four friends and the most street wise.

We find devout and prudish Church-going Hilda giving into her superstitions at the gravesite of Laveau and having to come face-to-face with her own hypocrisy and lack of loyalty.  The most naïve of all is musician Donatella, whose innocence and love is refreshing but gets tangled in a web so indissoluble, neither love, innocence or good intentions can repair the shattered pieces of his life.

“For the Last Time” is based on a novel “The Marble Faun,” written by Nathaniel Hawthorne and published in 1860, “For The Last Time,” is a thought provoking play.  It tickles the senses and presents the viewer with a puzzle.. It certainly is not a production that ends neatly wrapped up. No, this play requires one to put on their thinking cap because it never does explain the question asked at the beginning of the play,  But it does leave the audience talking about it long after the play is over.

This musical is beautifully written and beautifully executed.  I enjoyed it very much and recommend going to see it.  ”For the Last Time” runs until June 20th.

 

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