The Hadley Players presently featuring “Sassy Mamas,” have made some changes. They have changed their location from the Harlem School of the Arts, to the Poet’s Den Theatre, located at 309 East 108th Street in Manhattan and have a new Artistic Director, Roger Parris. Ward Nixon who has been the Artistic Director for 3 years recently resigned. Unfortunately, Ward was recently admitted to the hospital to have a tumor removed. So this writer wishes him well and better health in future.
A comedy directed by Pat Floyd, “Sassy Mamas” is the story of three middle aged women who find one another undergoing a transition in life. Having lost their men to death and divorce, they find their dating options slim. They now face the prospect of dating younger men; a prospect that one of the feisty women finds quite appealing while the other two are somewhat reluctant to take the plunge into Cougarville.
Via her play, Celeste Bedford Walker gives her characters professional and responsible positions. Wilhemina Sorenson portrayed by Cooki Winborn, is a national security advisor who works for the White House and lives at the Watergate Apartments in Washington, D.C. Wilhemina is embarrassed by the idea of dating a younger man so when journalist Wes Washington is sent to do a story on her she becomes concerned for her reputation when he falls for her. As a public figure, Wilhemina is nervous about being seen in the company of a younger man so thwarts his advances, despite the fact he tells her age doesn’t matter. Lonely and attracted to Wes (DeSean Stokes), Wilhemina is in denial and just can’t seem to get over the hurdle of the difference in their ages.
Her friend Jo Billie Massey (Richarda Abrams) is a hospital administrator in charge of running a busy hospital. Jo Billie is ready for a younger man and makes no bones about it. She has her life planned out to the tee and even wants the young man she has scoped out as her lover to sign a contract wherein he must put up and shut up, in exchange for a massive amount of money. Jo Billie runs the show telling LaDonte, portrayed by Donald Dash that he must quit his job, move in with her and do whatever she tells him to do and only speak when spoken to. She knows he has a child, but as far as Jo Billie is concerned LaDonte has to deal with his life outside of their arrangement on his own time. She insists his personal life must never impact her or interfere with their arrangement. If it does, he breaks the contract and must leave immediately. Conflicted, LaDonte, eventually swayed by the money, agrees to sign.
Gentle Mary Wooton (M. Drue Williams) was married to an Ambassador, who after years of marriage requested a divorce, thus leaving Mary devastated and depressed long after the divorce was final. Never having been alone and with grown daughters, Mary is afraid. She decides to remarry an older man who at least is among her circle of friends. That is, until Colby, her young gardener, played by Nicholas Miles Newton, complicates things.
Although there is much hi-jinks and comedic aspects to “Sassy Mamas,” it depicts situations that many women face in the apex of their life when they have raised families and suddenly find themselves alone. They do not want to become nurse mates to older single men who are now ailing and slowing down and simply want someone to take care of them. A problem for women who have cared for their men and families most of their lives and now face freedom and the chance to do the things they couldn’t do under the rigors of family life. Wilhelmina, Jo Billie and Mary find themselves tied to the conditioning of their former life while on the brink of a new life. So the production becomes the story of new beginnings and the courage to seize the day. You will have to see the play to learn the final outcome.
Costume design is by Katherine Roberson; set design by Bill Wood, Lighting and sound by Derrick Minter and Melanie Beal; props by Kimberlee Monroe and stage management by Robert Gonzalez.
Go see “Sassy Mamas” but better hurry though! The show runs Tuesday through Saturday at 7:30 pm and Sunday at 2:30 pm but is slated to close on Sunday, March 23rd.