The EttaGrace Black Theatre Company ends its 2012 season with the production of Marsha Estell’s “Heat.” The play has been nominated for a Joseph Jefferson Award, and it was recently featured in the anthology “New Plays from Chicago.”
“Heat” tells the story of three generations of African-American women in rural Illinois as they deal with each other and life’s issues on one of the hottest day of the year.
“It’s an emotionally charged play that really pulls you in,” said Salt Lake resident Marlon Yarde.
According to its mission statement, the EttaGrace Black Theatre Company is focused “on producing African American theatrical material, which seeks to promote an awareness and deeper understanding of the black community’s contribution to the expanding American cultural experience.”
“Heat” is performed in the Black Box Theatre, which is around the right side of the Grand Theatre at the South City Campus. The venue is small, but the play features energizing and professional performances.
“(The play was) Fabulous, a lot different than I thought,” said SLCC student Jeremy Shaw.
The production of “Heat” is directed by Toni Byrd and packs a cast of extremely talented actors who perform with engaging stage presence. The play goes back and forth with slightly comedic banter but it has an emotionally charged undertone that makes the audience truly feel what the characters are going through.
The actor who stands out the most is the young Nasheda Caudle, who plays the daughter Shelly, the youngest of the women dealing with the harsh reality that cancer has taken away her ability to bear children. Caudle gives an intense performance that is sure to bring people to tears. This is her first year of professional acting, and she has performed “Ruined” and “For Colored Girls.”
The cast also includes Melissa Adams, who is returning to stage after five years and is making her debut with the EttaGrace Black Theatre. Adams plays Sharon, the responsible divorcee whose life focus is on her daughter.
The multitalented Barbara Beard White plays Sharon’s aging mom, Mudear, who reveals the secrets of her failed relationships to her daughter through her bouts of senile moments. White has an extensive acting career and has appeared in SLCC Grand Theatre Productions “The Messiah,” “Crowns” and “Big River.”
Also in the cast is Chicago native Yolanda Wood, who has worked on stage and film in the Salt Lake area for over 10 years. Wood gives a superb performance as the flamboyant, sexually charged Aunt Rose. The audience is sure to enjoy her outrageous behavior.
There are two more opportunities to see “Heat” this season. The play will run Thursday, June 14 at 7:30 and Saturday, June 16 at 7:30. Tickets can be purchased at http://the-grand.org.
More information about the EttaGrace Black Theatre Company and its lineup for the next season can be found at http://ettagraceblacktheatre.org.