CONNECTICUT CRITICS CIRCLE
By Bonnie Goldberg
2/11/08 MIDDLETOWN PRESS
An editor is trained to recognize an authentic voice, one that speaks to the soul and tells a story
that resonates. Imagine the excitement and joy when Shalita Burns, an upwardly mobile
African-American woman in the publishing field, dedicated to a new project Rediscovered Voices,
stumbles upon a new manuscript that ignites her own spirit with hope and promise.
The new book "Bee-Luther-Hatchee" is written by and about Libby Price, a seventy-two year old
black woman who feels invisible as she wanders through the Deep South. Libby describes herself as
having a "smoked soul" like that of a ghost and it is only through her memoirs that she can be heard
and gain a physical substance.
In honor of Black history Month, Stamford Theatre Works is giving a dramatic voice to
"Bee-Luther-Hatchee" in its intimate theater space at 200 Strawberry Hill Avenue, Stamford, on the
campus of Sacred Heart Academy, until Sunday, February 17.
The title comes from African-American folklore and means the end of a train line, "the next stop after
hell," and it is a terrible place to be. Shelita, played powerfully by Melanie Nicholls-King, finds herself
in her own "bee-luther-hatchee" after she publishes Libby Price's story and discovers the moving
autobiography may not be the emotional truth she believed in. Now after it has gained national
success and won the prestigious Hayward Award, the book, Shalita's great literary find, may be a
fraud, scam, hoax or stunt.
As Shalita searches for Libby Price (M. Drue Williams) to uncover the truth, she encounters an
inquisitive New York Times reporter (Simon Feil) who also plays Robert, another person seeking
Libby, and Sean Leonard (Patrick McNulty) who plays a prominent role in the literary mystery.
Sydney Stone as Shalita's loyal friend watches her elation turn to despair. Patricia R. Floyd directs a
fine ensemble cast in this explosive tale from the pen of Thomas Gibbons.
For tickets ($25-43), call STW at 203-359-4414 or online at www.stamfordtheatreworks.org. ;
Performances are Tuesday-Saturday at 8 p.m., with matinees Saturday at 4 p.m. and Sunday at 2
Witness how Shalita unravels as questions of race, authenticity and integrity burst her newly blown
balloon of literary success.