Oscar E Moore

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LACKAWANNA BLUES – extended through November 7th – make every effort to see it

October 17th, 2021 by Oscar E Moore

Was there anyone in your past who was instrumental in guiding you through your youth, teaching you how to treat others with respect and dignity and at the same time expecting you to be treated likewise that still resonates with the person you are today?

If so, you will immediately connect with Ruben Santiago-Hudson the author, actor, and director of his autobiographical memory play LACKAWANNA BLUES now extended through November 7th at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre – a Manhattan Theatre Club production.  I urge you to make every effort to see it.

And do not miss a single important word of this remarkable work.  Listening devices are once again offered for use.  So please do.

Despite several cancellations due to a back injury.  Despite the COVID lockdowns, Mr. Santiago-Hudson beautifully channels the perseverance and love instilled in him by Ms. Rachel Crosby (Nanny) his surrogate mother who rescued and raised Ruben in her boardinghouse establishment for strays – both human and animal.

Portraying a multitude of characters from a tobacco farm in Virginia to the 1956 steel mills of Lackawanna New York where drinking and gambling and carousing were rampant in this ninety minute, no intermission production Mr. Santiago-Hudson has got the whole audience not only in the palm of his hands but in his grip.  Never letting go.  You cannot help but be enthralled by his storytelling.  With an abundance of period details.

And his cast of odd characters.  Ol’ Po’ Carl – a 79 year old former Negro Leagues baseball player who was told by his doctor to give up whiskey as he had “roaches of the liver” and Sweet Tooth Sam.  And many others.  Young and old.  Male and female.  Quite an array.

All the while Nanny explaining in her easy going but tough way to be strong, generous and kind with her philosophy of an open home and an open heart.  Soft-spoken most of the time her signature look could freeze the Erie Canal.

Anyone who has had such an important person in their life will certainly be touched and most probably tear up at their remembrance.

Mr. Santiago-Hudson shares the stage and his life with excellent guitarist Junior Mack.

The accompaniment is just right.  A soft bluesy background that can punctuate the narrative when necessary.  Oh, and Ruben plays a mean harmonica to boot.

Special thanks to lighting designer Jen Schriever and scenic designer Michael Carnahan for the cozy and most appropriate atmosphere.   The original music by Bill Sims Jr. – a close associate of Mr. Santiago-Hudson who played the show and dozens of other projects with him until his death.  LACKAWANNA BLUES is dedicated to his memory.  Along with Nanny who always said “It’s gonna be alright.”  And it was.  And it is.  Just go!

Originally produced by the Public Theater April 2001.

Photos:  Marc J. Franklin

Proof of vaccination.  Photo ID.  Mask.  Thank you.


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