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'Blues for an Alabama Sky' opens at Lionheart Theatre Company

If you go

• What: “Blues for an Alabama Sky” by Lionheart Theatre Company

• When: 7:30 p.m. tonight and Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday and Nov. 18-20

• Where: Norcross Cultural Arts and Community Center, 10 College St., Norcross

• Cost: $15 for adults and $12 for seniors and students

• For more information: Visit www.lionheartthea... or call 678-938-8518

NORCROSS -- Set in 1930s Harlem, four friends and an Alabama stranger explore politics, art and love in "Blues for an Alabama Sky," which opens at Lionheart Theatre Company tonight. Award-winning Atlanta playwright Pearl Cleage wrote the play, while Nicole Littlejohn Jackson directed Lionheart's rendition.

As the drama unfolds at the end of the Harlem Renaissance and brink of the Great Depression, the small cast of characters juggle an immense load of society's issues and relational throes.

The play hinges on the perplexing character Angel Allen, acted by Isa J. Miles. Angel covers the most emotional territory in the script, at first entering the stage drunk and eventually sobering to relay her steel interior.

"Angel is a women whose life experiences have made her a survivor. She is a Harlem showgirl who is out of work looking for the next thing. She is sassy and sexy, and she's a woman who knows how to use her feminine ways to get men to help her," Miles said.

Guy, played by Dennis Bayne, is Angel's right-hand-man who deals with his own struggles of being taunted for his exotic flair and flamboyant nature. His ambitions portray a hopeful, new time for African Americans only 100 years out of slavery.

Delia, a trustworthy and honorable neighbor played by Shannon Mayers, reflects the uprising of women advocacy during and after the Roaring Twenties. One of her goals is to organize a family planning clinic in Harlem.

"Delia is very ambitious and determined about her beliefs," Mayers said. "There is a particular curiosity about her, a deer-eyed type of view on the world. There is an innocence that I think is refreshing. The other more experienced characters magnify this."

Another critical character in "Blues for an Alabama Sky" is the mysterious Alabama stranger Leland, played by Roger Ferrier, that seems to be smitten with Angel. Claiming he wants to marry Angel he gets her pregnant. Sam, a character played by Roderick E. Jackson, is a doctor who tries to help her.

The drama of "Blues for an Alabama Sky" reflects major issues still affecting today's society -- economic hardship, reproductive rights and homosexuality. Playwright Pearl Cleage has won commercial acceptance and critical praise for her work. Her play "Flyin' West" was presented at the Lionheart Theatre Company last year to a packed house. Cleage is also a bestselling author whose first novel, "What Looks Like Crazy On An Ordinary Day," was an Oprah Book Club pick and New York Times bestseller.

"The audience will experience a range of emotions," Miles said. "They will laugh, cry, be shocked and surprised. Overall, it's really about a group of people that find themselves at the beginning of the Depression and who try to grapple with what it all means -- to have dreams and at the same time deal with the realities of day-to-day life. The title suggests that they are in the midst of a sad reality but they are still dreaming about something bigger and nicer."