“Quilters” is showing through October 2nd in the Freede Theatre at Civic Center Music Hall. Written by Molly Newman and Barbara Damashek, “Quilters” is a delightful exploration of the personal histories of the pioneer women who put their experience and their souls into the quilts that they made. As the women present these memories recorded in these beautiful quilts, one begins to understand the importance of history on the purely personal level. The fires, the droughts, the births and deaths of generations of strong women can be found in the quilts grandmother made.
To direct this show requires sensitivity and seven women who can sing, dance a little bit and act superbly as they re-enact events from the multiple characters we come from. Irick, Artistic Director of Oklahoma City Theatre Company directs “Quilters” smoothly. The seven members of the ensemble cast are Bonner Church, Celeste Dvorak, Mary Ingram, Kristi Krempges, CheyAnne Strickler, Kayli Anne Warmker and Raine Hicks Wheeler. Each of the delightful actresses does a magnificent job in their soliloquys and their solos.
Choreographer, Andrea Rogers does a very nice job of showcasing the natural dance of these pioneer women in a realistically graceful series of movements that compliments each actress as well as each character. Music Director Jeanise Morton creates an orchestral sound with a small group that complements vocals beautifully. Thanks to Marilyn Ragan, costumes are authentic, yet easy for the actresses to deal with as they convey all the atmosphere needed for the deliberately minimalist set.
In an ensemble cast such as “Quilters” where all the performers are outstanding it is hard to pinpoint an absolutely starring moment. Yet from an acting perspective, Raine Hicks Wheeler exhibits such a highlight. As all the cast members are women and they often tell stories involving the men in their lives it is necessary for them to portray those men. Wheeler is a beautiful woman, yet incredibly, one can’t help but imagine Edward G. Robinson when she is portraying male characters.
As one enters the Freede Theatre, the orchestra area is placed on the left side of the stage. Acoustically the sound levels work well in any seat in the audience. Nevertheless the second set of perfect moments in “Quilters” comes when all the performers blend their voices. The sweet spot is exceptional seated to the right. While “Quilters” is a tear-jerker from the standpoint of subject, the perfect notes emanating from these women bring tears of joy and beauty as well.
Clearly Irick has assembled an excellent cast and crew. This show is not just a show for and about women; it is a show for anyone borne of woman as well. As they take their bows, the applause from the audience is not only for the performance but for their own mothers and grandmothers and all those moments that create the history of the United States of America.
“Quilters” can be seen through October 2, 2011. Performances are Friday and Saturday nights at 8:00 pm with 2:00 pm Sunday Matinees at the Civic Center Music Hall Freede Theatre. The location is 201 N. Walker in downtown Oklahoma City. For ticket information call 405.593.6600. Also contact okctheatrecompany.org on line or call Oklahoma City Theatre Company direct at 405.297.2264. Oklahoma City Theatre Company has a perfect presentation with “Quilters” so don’t stay home and sew!