Presented by Company One Theatre in partnership with the City of Boston’s Office of Arts and Culture
By Idris Goodwin
Music by Divinity Roxx and Eugene H. Russell IV
Directed by Summer L. Williams
Music directed by David Freeman Coleman
Choreography by Victoria Lynn Awkward
Dramaturgy by afrikah selah
The Strand Theatre
543 Columbia Rd
Boston, MA 02125
Critique by Kitty Drexel
BOSTON, Mass. — The cast of The Boy Who Kissed the Sky performed admirably on Saturday evening despite technical difficulties and intense heat. The beloved Strand Theatre is old and, despite its renovations, failed under the extreme heat. The actors and band met the moment with indomitable will and aplomb.
Idris Goodwin’s The Boy Who Kissed the Sky is a fantasy on the childhood of Jimi Hendrix in music, dance, and color. A Boy (Errol Service Jr.) lives with his father (Cedric Lilly) in Seattle. The Boy imagines universes across a history of rock music with pencil set to paper as he strums a broom that bleeds corn bristles.
His multidimensional, intergenerational guide and musical conscience is J. Sonic (Martinez Napoleon). Together with the groovy Feedbacks (Yasmeen Duncan, Kiera “Kee” Prusmack, James Turner, and Adriana Alvarez) they witness a world of experiences so the Boy can find his own rock n roll voice.
The band, led by David Freeman Coleman, rocks. David W. Prout, Sahil Warsi, and Hector Saint-Hilaire politely but insistently brought the funk for the kids and adults last Saturday. They were synced with the cast despite the evening’s sweaty stresses.
Hendrix is most famous for his virtuosic guitar playing. Divinity Roxx and Eugene H. Russell IV incorporate the electric guitar into the show’s music like it is a ghost of Hendrix’s future legacy. J. Sonic and the Feedbacks sing and dance to the show’s Hendrix-inspired compositions. Licks from the guitar rise through the harmonies and disharmonies like premonitions. It is right that we shouldn’t hear Hendrix’s mature voice yet. The Boy has a long journey to become a force of nature we now know him to be.
The Boy Who Kissed the Sky is intended for all ages; it has a lot to offer everyone. Idris Goodwin is able to explain abstract concepts of Western music theory with simplicity. He defines the essences of the Vaudeville, jazz, and rhythm ‘n’ blues movements with metaphor and anecdotes.
Goodwin gives the audience a taste of what music is to satisfy curious persons (and maybe disturb gatekeeping pedants, which is fine in my book) and to wet the interest of budding musicians. He keeps the dialogue informative, and, with the direction of Summer L. Williams, pitches the action forward at a consistent pace. Under normal performance conditions, The Boy Who Kissed the Sky might entertain the wiggliest attendee.
This show is a great candidate for a tour of school performances. It’s small enough to fit on several trucks. It has a lot to offer kids. Everyone needs a reminder to dream big now and again.
These weren’t normal conditions. The show did go on. The cast sang and danced under Christopher Brusberg’s psychedelic purple and green stage lighting with no air conditioning. As uncomfortable as it was to be in the audience, the actors faced perilous opening night conditions and gave it their all.
Martinez Napoleon, Errol Service Jr., and the others held focus as their mics gave up. They kept going and sang the crap out of their music. They remained committed to the world of the show. That’s commendable behavior…
Commendable behavior that should convince the City of Boston to finance more renovations in Dorchester’s historic Strand Theater. What use is saving a location if it won’t run properly in what is becoming normal New England weather?
A theatre that functions fine during rehearsals but fails during performances isn’t a complete theatre. It’s a half-assed rehearsal space. The residents of Dorchester deserve better. Climate change is here. Renovate accordingly.
All tickets are Pay-What-You-Want with a $0 minimum.
Seating is open so please arrive early to get the seats you’d prefer.