The Old Settler Has Audiences SpellboundTheater — By Kim Webster on June 7, 2011 at 8:19 pm
By Kim Webster
Harlem, NY 1943 – Church going sisters Elizabeth (Veralyn Jones) and Quilly (Karen Malina White) live together in Harlem during World War II. It’s a time when Black soldiers on leave and church folks partied at clubs like the Savoy Ballroom; and Mechanics Night was a no-pay night for Black domestic workers.
Elizabeth and Quilly have seemingly settled a disagreement causing them not to speak to each other for eight years. Their reconciliation is going well until Elizabeth decides to take in a gentleman boarder named Husband (Ryan Vincent Anderson). Coming from rural South Carolina, Husband is naïve, plainspoken and determined to find his hometown love Lou-Bessie (Tarina Pouncy). When he finds her he sees a fancy dressing, “city-fied” Lou Bessie who wants to be called “Charmaine.” Elizabeth notices Husband’s sadness after seeing Lou Bessie and begins to counsel him. Husband becomes infatuated with the middle-aged Elizabeth and they begin spending quality time together. Quilly is furious and doesn’t bite her tongue lecturing Elizabeth on the wrongs of such a relationship with this younger man. Their confrontation opens old emotional wounds that must be resolved. Ultimately, their relationship projects the love, strength, and unbreakable bond between sisters.
Brooklyn-born, African-American playwright John Henry Redwood incorporates commentary on the racial climate of America while revealing a range of human emotions in this comedy-drama. The play was made into a movie directed by Debbie Allen premiering in 2001on PBS with Phylicia Rashad (Elizabeth), Debbie Allen (Quilly), Eartha Robinson (Lou Bessie), and Bumper Robinson (Husband). The current cast of the play gave a spellbinding, emotionally filled performance. Veralyn Jones (Elizabeth aka The Old Settler) is an award-winning actress with numerous credits including Southland, The Unit, ER and The Young & Restless. Karen Malina White (Quilly) has a B.F.A. from Howard University and is known for her TV work on The Cosby Show, A Different World, Malcolm & Eddie, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and voice-over on The Proud Family. Tarina Pouncy (Lou Bessie) studied in New York at the Negro Ensemble Company and performed in August Wilson’s Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom and Ozzie Davis’ Purlie Victorious and will appear in the upcoming Larry Crowne with Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts. Ryan Vincent Anderson (Husband) recently performed at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival and has an M.F.A. from CalArts and a BA in Architecture.
The Old Settler is directed and produced by Caryn Desai and presented at the Long Beach Performing Arts Center, 300 E Ocean Blvd., Long Beach CA beginning June 3 thru June 26, 2011. For more info please go to www.internationalcitytheatre.org