The Arts awaken after a long, Rip Van Winkle style sleep caused by the pandemic. A strong start to the re-awakening comes from Lewis Morrow’s newest life/relationship drama, “Baybra’s Tulips,” now playing at the Just Off Broadway Theatre in Kansas City, Missouri.
Morrow’s characters always speak to the heart of the matters as his rich dialogue takes audiences into the raw emotions of the characters he conceives. As he said in a talk-back after one performance, his plays are more about relationships than anything else. He’s right; the relationships and the dialogue among the characters drive his works and take the audience into the stories he crafts.
“Baybra’s Tulips” focuses on a brother and sister relationship interrupted by Baybra’s imprisonment and his release after serving his time. While incarcerated, life moved on and his child has grown into a teen without him. His sister, brother-in-law, and baby-momma moved forward. Baybra discovers upon his release that he cannot leave the past in the rear-view mirror which forms the crux of the story about relationships.
Like other pieces of Morrow’s work, the family unit encapsulates the story, so it becomes more of a family drama rather than a plot-driven play. Audiences will never know what to expect with each new scene. And, like life, the characters take the audience into their lives and display their innermost strengths and frailties.
Expect dialogue that transports the audience on a journey into the depths of each character and then exposes the strengths, frailties and weakness that make them so realistic to viewers. Audiences find themselves drawn in as each scene provides a nuance into each actor’s character.
Kansas City Melting Pot producer, Harvey Williams prides himself in using local actors and the new works of ethnic playwrights. Patrons know that Williams finds the right plays to appeal to wide audiences who want to see fresh and thought provoking pieces. From comedies to dramas, Williams selects plays with meaning and purpose.
Melting Pot’s vision, as posted on their website explains: “Our pursuit is to produce or assist in producing original works by local talent, representative of the rich and varied ethnic and life communities in the metropolitan and suburban areas of greater Kansas City.”
Lewis Morrow’s plays have found a home, a producer, strong actors, and audiences who appreciate the talents of a Kansas City, Kansas Sumner High School product. His plays will someday find their way to a Broadway stage. The sooner, the better. Morrow’s voice and characters need to be heard and seen.
No one speaks words better than the playwright who conceived the character and the words of the character. That said, Morrow’s character of Baybra captures the audiences from the first scene and carries them through the piece as each scene brings surprises to the audience. Morrow goes from friendly, to angry, to playful, to loving, to vengeful, and all other emotions as the play progresses. He speaks his written words with authority and the understanding of what he wants his audience to see and know at different stages of the play. He’s dynamic and knows how to lead his audiences.
Co-star, Jabrelle Herbin found her voice in Morrow’s play and turns in a super-strong character as Baybra’s sister Tellulah. She goes toe-to-toe with the two male characters in the play and gives her best performance to date.
Others in the cast include: Markeyta L. Young as Vanessa, George Forbes as Charles, Paul Jones III as Vince, and Anaya Morrow as Avery. The entire cast is strong and display understanding of the characters they portray. Overall, they cast does a spectacular job with interpreting their characters. Directed by Nicole Hodges Persley, “Baybra’s Tulips” displays her attention to detail and an understanding of the family dynamics needed to make this piece realistic and gripping for audiences.
The production team, led by Persley includes: Theodore “Priest” Hughes, stage manager; Desmond Jones, assistant stage manager; Doug Schroeder, scenographer; Dennis Jackson, sound designer; Melonnie Walker, dramaturg; Lynn King, costumer.
“Baybra’s Tulips” plays at the Just Off Broadway Theatre through Sept.25.