Suki Lue's Travelin' Juke Joint
IndyFringe Theatre, directed by Deborah Asante; Dec. 16-17
In all, Deborah Asante and friends created a real experience with their Travelin' Juke Joint, presented at IndyFringe last weekend. As the doors of the theater swung open, the sounds of hot music and the formidable Black Pearl (Keesha Dixon) greeted all who entered. With a complimentary drink in everyone's hand, the Juke Joint heated up. Maxine's Chicken and Waffles was on hand serving up wings at what felt like an underground speakeasy that we'd all just stumbled into out of the cold.
Before the show, Asante, as Suki Lue, explained the concept of a "juke joint" to those of us less informed, then mandated that we all dance to the beats of James Brown. The effect was brilliant: the crowd loosened up to Brown's funk, dropping their inhibitions for a moment.
As the stage portion of the evening got underway, Suki Lue introduced a wild cast of characters, including the international star Jazelle (Jasmine Bailey), Little Momma (Empress Marlena) and the harmonica toting "Hot Lips" (Ken Skelton). A trio of musicians offered accompaniment as, one by one, the soulful ladies stood up to sing. The performance was meandering and unpredictable in the best way possible. Finally, Suki Lue closed things off with a story that reminded us to celebrate our individuality.