Charm is playing at the Lucille Lortel Theatre located at 121 Christopher Street. The play runs two hours with one intermission. It closes on October 8, 2107.
The play premiered in Chicago in 2015.
The story is inspired by Gloria Allen. She was born in 1945 in Kentucky. The family moved to Chicago in the early 50’s. At 19 she stated to live her true gender. Gloria came up with the idea to teach Charm school at The Chicago’s Center on Halstead, LGBTQ Community Center.
It takes place in Chicago 2014 around the center. It was a shelter and community safe space for the gay community.
Mama comes out all prim. She greets the audience with a hello. The audience responds with a hello. In short she makes a comment any man or women wearing their pants below the waist to pull them up and secure them tightly with a belt. She doesn’t want to see their backsides.
D (Kelli Simkins) shows Mama Darleena Andrews (Sandra Caldwell) the room she will be teaching etiquette once a week.
She will meet the challenges of identity, poverty and prejudice.
She has seven students. Jonelle (JoJo Brown) and Ariela (Hailie Sahar) are transgender. Beta (Marquise Vilson) looks like a gangster, hat, glasses and head phone, acting tough. Donnie (Michael David Baldwin) and his wife Victoria (Lauren E. Walker) have their issues. Lucky (Marky Irene Diven) is afraid to admit he wants to be a girl. The last to join the group is Lyon (Michael Lorz). He said he has opened up to some people about his true identity.
Mama teaches them etiquette, how to dress property (to make a good impression) etc. She helps them deal with the gender they have chosen.
She said her aunt gave her a book by Emily Post that changed her life. Near the end of the play she admits she is transgender.
We learn more about each character and how the inner act with each other.
This is a touching and funny story worth seeing.
It boils down to we are all human beings no matter what gender we chose to be. We are in control of our own lives.
The cast does a remarkable job. Sandra Caldwell does an admirable job in her role. She brings warmth and tenderness to it.
Review by Rozanna Radakovich
Photos by Annazor.
To read a candid interview with the cast click on photos, for this and other shows.