Bernadine Mitchell, Ashley Ware and Roz White in “Three Sistahs.”
Two actors reared in D.C., Roz White and Ashley Ware Jenkins, can be found starring in “Three Sistahs,” a musical production at MetroStage in Alexandria, Va. until Nov. 9.
The production “tells the story of an African American family in 1969 in Washington D.C.,” MetroStage Artistic Director Carolyn Griffin told the AFRO in an email. “The story these sistahs are telling-are living-is a universal, timeless story as it relates to family relationships, their hopes, dreams, disappointments and ultimate resolution as they move forward in their lives.”
The production was written and directed by Thomas W. Jones II, Janet Pryce wrote the story, William Hubbard, an Alexandrian, wrote the music and William Knowles was the music director.
“Three Sistahs” is currently celebrating its 30th year at the MetroStage.
“These are some of the finest theatre artists around, and they are MetroStage family. It makes us proud to be showcasing their work this season, and it is very gratifying to have critics and audiences alike so enthusiastic and so moved by the production,” Griffin said.
White, who plays the middle sister Marsha, is a native of the District. She said she started singing at a young age, participating in the D.C. youth ensemble when she was 11. She also studied at the Duke Ellington School of Arts and attended Howard University.
White was able to draw inspiration and direction from her environment for this production. She said she developed her character from stories her mother used to tell her about D.C. during the 60s, before and after the riots.
Fourteenth Street had specialty shops, then the riots hit, people burned all the businesses to the ground, she explained. There was a dark cloud in D.C. and people moved away.
“We lost a lot of the pride in African American owned anything,” White said.
She also said, the production reflects the Black family, both its trials and its unity.
“No matter if a person has one sibling or seven, they find a way to relate to this piece and I think that is wonderful,” White said.
The youngest sister Irene is played by Jenkins.
Even though she didn’t grow up in D.C., she, like White, studied at Duke Ellington.
“I kind of always felt like I was born in the wrong time,” Jenkins, told the AFRO.
“I felt like I was in alignment, in a lot of areas, with Irene. I just really connected with her in that way,” Jenkins said referencing Irene’s strong, but naive personality. As the youngest of the three sisters, Irene exemplifies the most radical mentality as she actively protests against the Vietnam War, the same war that killed her brother.
Irene “knows she has something that she wants to say, but she doesn’t know how to say it,” Jenkins said. “As she is living throughout this play, she is finding her worth.”
Jenkins compared herself to Irene, “she’s also a very passionate person, I am also a very passionate person,” she said. Jenkins said the show is helpful in showing people how to overcome internal conflicts, such as Irene overcomes her own throughout the production.
The third sister, Bernardine Mitchell, who was not reared in the area, plays Olive.
According to her MetroStage bio, she has performed in various ensembles both nationally and internationally, including Chicago; Little Foxes and Mahalia, among others. Both Mitchell and White are scheduled to perform in Bessie’s Blues at the MetroStage from Jan. 21 to March 15.