By Bonnie Goldberg

When two women gaze into a mirror, one a mother, one her daughter, the matriarch focuses intently on her pots, potions and powders and avoids looking directly at her offspring.  Mama is preparing for a dinner party that she wants her resistant daughter to attend, and neither is able to persuade the other of her desires and expectations.

The world premiere of “Bossa Nova” by Kirsten Greenidge will grace the stage of the Yale Repertory Theatre in New Haven until Saturday, December 18.

Dee Paradis (Francesca Choy-Kee) is a privileged African-American girl who has attended exclusive preparatory schools and been coached by her mother Lady (Ella Joyce) to be polite and mannered, accomplished and polished.  At school Dee rooms with a white scholarship girl Grace (Libby Woodbridge) whose quirky personality blends delightfully with her own. Dee also comes under the influence of her history teacher Michael (Tommy Schrider) who tries to transform her into a tribal princess and his lover.

The story goes back and forth between her teenage years and the present, ten years later, and the consequences of Dee succumbing to the demands and controls of others.  We also meet Dee’s little “sister” Jane (Malenky Walsh) who skips through the action and Michael’s wife (Emily Dorsch) whose wealthy background contradicts her husband’s earthy diversions and his obsession with jazz.  Evan Yionoulis directs this drama of identity that dances to a bossa nova Brazilian beat.

For tickets ($10-85), call the Yale Rep, 1120 Chapel Street, New Haven at 203-432-1234 or online at  Performances are Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. and matinees Saturday at 2 p.m.

Watch how Dee considers herself a “pheasant under glass,” as everyone wants to be the conductor of her band when all she wants to do is orchestrate her own life.


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