by Ryienn Rideout

First Stage’s new play WELCOME TO BRONZEVILLE was an instant attention-grabber! The set design was a practically perfect reflection of the year 1957, with a beautifully constructed mural (by artist Mutope J. Johnson) that featured paintings of people during that time, and the Bronzeville community. Speaking of which, the strong sense of community and support that anyone may have if they look hard enough is extremely evident in the play. It enraptured me in a world of a family filled with love, struggles, and achievements. It is something to share with everyone you know.

The amount of times I laughed during this play was countless, with the humor being so simple but so infectious. The main and heartwarming theme to this play that stood out to me was the kindred spirit and amity of the community, and the way they were always there to help encourage, love, and when needed to, correct and discipline. It also showed what peer pressure can lead to, and following the crowd rather than listening to your family's needs. It gave insight on the relationships in a family and how they can be affected by things like not focusing on your children enough and giving them love, and the different kinds of love parents may show. It was very relatable at times with the father and son relationship depicted, and opened my eyes to the fact that there is a love that is specific to sacrifices rather than hugs and “I love you’s.”

This story also showed how a relatively important stranger can help in many more ways than expected, and how anyone can simply offer something of value or advise to make people feel better. This play gave me strength because I can choose what I want to be, and make my own path in life; not according to what my family has done before or to what they expect, but for my own interests and desires. Anyone can be whatever they want, most likely, with the backing of family and the entire community.

WELCOME TO BRONZEVILLE continues through February 5, 2017.

Ryienn is a 15 year old home-schooled freshman who loves tap, contemporary dance, singing and theater. Ryienn is a First Stage Theater Academy Student who has been involved in Touring Company, the Student Advisory Board and Advanced Musical Theater. In her spare time Ryienn enjoys spending time with her 7 siblings, reading and sketching. Thank you Ryienn for this great review of WELCOME TO BRONZEVILLE!

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