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  Blues for an Alabama Sky at Court Theatre

Blues for an Alabama Sky

Court Theatre
5535 S. Ellis Avenue Chicago

In the midst of the Great Depression, the creative spirit of New York's Harlem Renaissance struggles with harsher realities. Angel and Guy, emerging artists with grand dreams, live next door to the more serious and political Delia, a social worker with the goal to open a community family planning clinic. Each must face their own hardships head on, but always with hope for a better life close at hand. They search for a way to keep their dreams of love, career, and service alive in times of economic despair, and they learn that the Great Depression can't destroy the source of their creative spirit.

Thru - Feb 19, 2017

Price: $48-$68

Show Type: Drama

Box Office: 773-753-4472

Running Time: 2hrs, 30mins; one intermission

Court Theatre Seating Chart

  Blues for an Alabama Sky Reviews
  • Highly Recommended
  • Recommended
  • Somewhat Recommended
  • Not Recommended

Chicago Tribune - Highly Recommended

"...The spirit of this enjoyable show, which is well acted throughout, also is manifest in Linda Buchanan's design — a set that somehow makes the Court Theatre seem wider than I've ever seen it before, adding space for all of the rushing about and physical comedy that Parson likes to include in his shows, but also emblematic of inclusivity. More specifically, of how the Harlem Renaissance was expanding minds, changing attitudes and colliding with a country that takes steps back, sure, but also propels its citizenry forward through the spirit, engagement and determination of its people."
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Chris Jones

Chicago Sun Times - Highly Recommended

"...Watching the stellar Court Theatre production of the play — which dates from 1999, but in many ways could not be more timely — you might well find yourself wondering why Cleage’s story has never been turned into a movie. (It is not too late.) Yet at the same time, there is more than enough reason to applaud its grand theatricality, as well as the zest and vibrancy of its performers, and the masterful work of director Ron OJ Parson, who is unquestionably on a roll these days with another terrific production (Eugene Lee’s “East Texas Hot Links“) still firing up the stage at Writers Theatre."
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Hedy Weiss

Chicago Reader - Recommended

"...Cleage's script moves with the ease of a hangout comedy, and director Ron OJ Parson's sprawling production addresses vast American turning points (northern migration, religious and societal definitions of womanhood, sexual liberation) without ever losing sight of the characters' stories."
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Dan Jakes

Windy City Times - Highly Recommended

"...Court Theatre's production of this rarely performed play spares no effort in realizing Cleage's scrupulously researched and richly textured portrait of a milieu invoked by casual references to such luminaries as Langston Hughes, Margaret Sanger, Marcus Garvey, the Abyssinian Baptist Church and its pastor, the Rev. Adam Clayton Powell Sr. Through such intimacy-enhancing devices as scenic designer Linda Buchanan's transparent walls—which permit us to witness characters in their solitary moments—and director Ron OJ Parson's locating the building's exterior in the audience area ( our first sight of Guy and Angel is of the former staggering down the aisle burdened by the noisily drunk latter ), our affection for these joyful pilgrims reveling in their youth and resilience is ensured."
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Mary Shen Barnidge

Chicago On the Aisle - Highly Recommended

"...In part, in an almost paradoxical way, Pearl Cleage's play "Blues for an Alabama Sky" is about the idealistic, short-lived Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s. But what makes Cleage's drama - and Court Theatre's current production brilliantly directed by Ron OJ Parson - so compelling is not that brief shining vision of a better America for black people through creative achievement, a concept that fractured when the stock market came crashing down in 1929. Rather, the magnetism lies in the story's humanity, in the tragic flaws and the upward determination of characters making their way along the streets of daily life."
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Lawrence B. Johnson

ChicagoCritic - Highly Recommended

"...Blues for an Alabama Sky is a wonderful play, effectively acted and tightly directed on an eye-popping set with period-perfect costumes (by Rachel Healy). This is terrific theatre that demands an audience. It is a “must see” drama!"
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Tom Williams

Around The Town Chicago - Highly Recommended

"...Court Theatre's "Blues for an Alabama Sky" is a gripping play about complicated people doing what they have to do to survive. According to playwright Pearl Cleage, the Harlem Renaissance was a period of tremendous creative accomplishment for many black artists. The Stock Market crash dried up the money flowing to creative work, crushing hopes and bringing fear to many. "Blues for an Alabama Sky" is a kind of a microcosm of the hopes and fears of that time and place, while some of its themes - intolerance, homophobia and anti-abortion - are pulled out of today's headlines."
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Carol Moore

NewCity Chicago - Highly Recommended

"...Above all else, “Blues for an Alabama Sky” is a great black play, a work whose blackness is inseparable from its greatness. In its refusal to capitulate to generic (and predominantly white) narratives, “Blues” represents the dream of the Harlem Renaissance: an expression of specificity, rooted in the experiences of black Americans. The tragedy of this line of thinking, as articulated best by Langston Hughes and fully recognized in Cleage’s text, is that there is no level of artistic pluralism that can truly capture the multiplicity of any racial or ethnic group. For better and worse, in “Blues” as in life, difference, it seems, is what defines us."
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Kevin Greene

Chicago Theatre Review - Highly Recommended

"...And what a production crew! Court's sets and lighting (for this show, courtesy of Linda Buchanan and Keith Parham, respectively) are always top of the line, and indeed, for 'Blues' it was as though the audience has been transported back in time, so true are the details. Add to that Rachel Anne Healy's wonderful costumes and Joshua Horvath's on-point sound design, and you have a theatrical experience as empathetic, even ecstatic, as anything currently on a Chicago stage."
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Peter Thomas Ricci

Third Coast Review - Highly Recommended

"...Parsons’ direction moves this play through its joys and sorrows so smoothly that the two and a half hours fly by. Meredith, a veteran Chicago actor, is solid and sympathetic as Sam. Parris gives a luminous performance as Guy, the “notorious homosexual.” We saw him most recently in The Magic Play at Goodman, where he drew rave reviews. Turner is a glamorous Angel, whose self-centered focus can be attributed to her history: a tawdry life in Savannah that she and Guy shared until they escaped to New York."
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Nancy Bishop

Picture This Post - Recommended

"...However, the true power of this play- almost eerie as you turn the experience over in your mind the next day— is how almost shockingly relevant the issues it raises are to our world today. Homophobia, gun violence, how people change when facing narrowing opportunities during an economic downturn, and the equivalent of Planned Parenthood office bombings—these themes are all there even though the script is 1000% true to the mindset of Harlem denizens of that time."
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Amy Munice

  Blues for an Alabama Sky Photo Gallery

   This show has been Jeff Recommended*

*The designation of "Jeff Recommended" is given to a production when at least ONE ELEMENT of the show was deemed outstanding by the Joseph Jefferson Awards Committee.

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