- James DeVita has done it again. The multitalented writer,
actor and director has composed a moving story based on a
young slave, Caroline Quartis-Watkins, who successfully made
use of the Underground Railroad in her trip from Missouri to
with the soul-wrenching music, selected and arranged by Josh
Schmidt and Sherri Williams Pannell, “Midnight Cry,” the
production now playing at the First Stage Children’s
Theater, becomes an unforgettable experience.
lead actor, Malkia Stampley, is a perfect fit for the role of
Lida. Her youth and vulnerability are paired with courage and
grit and an unrelenting hopefulness. She can also sing with
strength and soul. Other
actors who render their roles with credibility and passion are
her papa, played by Michael A. Torrey; her mama, played by
Marvette Knight; and her uncle, played by Gavin Lawrence.
was especially good as a catalyst and inspiration for Lida. He
has a good dose of zest, knowledge and practicality. His
energy seems boundless.
musical accompaniment provided by musician John Nicholsen is
very effective as a mood enhancer. Musical director Sherri
Williams Pannell did an excellent job of providing high
standards for the musical numbers. They are all beautifully
delivered. I was
moved to tears upon hearing many of them.
bad guys are convincingly portrayed by Matt Daniels, Mark
Corkins and Todd Denning. Corkins and Denning also play good
guys with equal credibility. It’s good to see Corkins back
in our midst.
Hunt-Frank’s set design, consisting of wooden platforms of
different sizes and heights, lends itself to easy changes of
venue, and the costumes by Pamela J. Rehberg
are historically authentic.
Jeff Frank deserves a lot of credit for encouraging the
development of this piece and executing it so beautifully for
our enjoyment and edification.
Waukesha readers, a bit of history - The Waukesha Freeman was
named in honor of those who favored the abolitionist movement.
Waukesha was a frequent stop for those on their way to freedom
via the Underground Railroad.
Cry” runs through Feb. 9 in the Todd Wehr Theater at the
Marcus Center for the Performing Arts, 929 N. Water St.,
Milwaukee. For show times and tickets, call 414-273-7206 or