( ENSPIRE Entertainment ) Adrienne Kennedy’s Hard-Hitting Play Finally Hits Broadway
ENSPIRE Contributor: Cailin Tennis
A new show has hit the Broadway stage, and audiences are left amazed. “Ohio State Murders” is a production written by Adrienne Kennedy that features deep commentary on systematic racism. This meaningful plot carries the play, which is smoothly executed by the cast and crew. Starring Audra McDonald as the protagonist, this show brings us through the past and present of a Black woman’s experience at Ohio State University.
The show follows Suzanne Alexander (Audra McDonald) in the 1990s as she recounts her schooling at Ohio State University. Audiences hear about the outright racism and bigotry she experienced as a student. The plot thickens when protagonist Suzanne Alexander (Audra McDonald) becomes pregnant with a white professor’s child. Amidst this difficult situation, Alexander watches horrific racially charged violence occur and audiences are left devastated as she is.
ENSPIRE is dedicated to promoting positive, change-making media. This Broadway show is not only an educational form of entertainment, but it also brings real, relevant questions to the table regarding racism and bigotry in our American society. Kennedy was asked in a New York Times interview why her renowned play took so long to reach Broadway. Her response was, “It’s because I’m a Black woman.”
The physical execution of the play strengthened the relevance of her commentary. The set designed as a segregated campus of Ohio State University complemented her monologues in the late 1940s-early 1950s. Kennedy attended Ohio State, which allowed her to intricately detail the campus geography, the racism within dorm life, and the appalling hate experienced by students of color. Beowulf Boritt led scenic design.
Costume (Dede Ayite), lighting (Allen Lee Hughes), and sound design (Justin Ellington) all came together to transport audiences as Alexander vividly describes her experiences. Audra was stunning in her performance as she fully embraces the role. With no musical numbers, her performance needed to be enthralling and engaging. She did exactly this, and even more with her soulful performance of a painful story.
“Ohio State Murders” ran through Feb. 12 at the James Earl Jones Theater, in Manhattan. For more information about the show, cast, crew, and future performances please visit its website.
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