Hol­i­days take on a Mem­phis at­ti­tude

> Scenes from ‘Pre-sent Pres-ent’ rep­re­sent eclec­tic scenes of city

The Commercial Appeal - Go Memphis - - Stage - By Jon W. Sparks

Spe­cial to The Com­mer­cial Ap­peal

If you be­lieve the true mean­ing of the hol­i­days is em­bod­ied by the inim­itable Sis­ter My­otis, then you’ll have a fine time greet­ing the sea­son with “Pre-sent Pres-ent.” Say Amen!

It’s the eighth in­stall­ment of the singing-danc­ing-act­ing col­lab­o­ra­tion of Voices of the South and Project: Mo­tion, and this ver­sion — “Home for the Hol­i­days” — has all the pi­quant fla­vor of Mem­phis.

It’s a mixed stock­ing — some of the scenes sat­isfy bet­ter than oth­ers, but then again, so do some of the presents you find un­der the tree. Some­times it’s a re-gifted fruit cake, some­times a Red Ry­der air ri­fle.

There are some ter­rific dance num­bers, in­clud­ing an homage to the Mem­phis Roller Derby cul­ture, and “I Can See Your House From Here” by Sarah Led­bet­ter.

Jenny Odle Madden is in typ­i­cally witty and wry form in “Left­overs” to the mu­sic of Peggy Lee’s “Is That All There Is?” Madden’s part­ner­ship with Jerre Dye is surely one of the more creative pair­ings as this clever look at one South­ern woman’s hol­i­day angst at­tests.

One of the best acts is “Mat­ter,” a per­for­mance piece writ­ten and per­formed by La­trelle Bright. Us­ing dance, mul­ti­me­dia and au­di­ence par­tic­i­pa­tion, Bright asks some provoca­tive and wide-rang­ing ques­tions about our own Earth.

Link­ing it all to­gether is Sis­ter My­otis, the char­ac­ter des­tined for su­per­star­dom ( just ask her) played by Steve Swift. The good sis­ter em­cees the pro­gram with hom­i­lies, re­minders to do good, and presents. Yes, if you’re lucky, you might get a nutcracker or a pizza or even a burger from Huey’s.

Cap that off with Sis­ter M telling the tale of the Cirque du Na­tiv­ity, and you just might split your sides laugh­ing. Say Amen!

Mark We­ber/The Com­mer­cial Ap­peal

Steve Swift plays Sis­ter My­otis in the play “Pre-sent Pres-ent” at TheatreWorks, link­ing the var­i­ous parts of the pro­duc­tion to­gether as em­cee.

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