The Queens of the Golden Mask – Review by Bonnie Goldberg

Since the tragedy at Columbine in April, 1999, there have been 200 school shootings in this country, causing senseless devastation and pain for families and friends and communities. Gun violence is an abomination that now affects innocents at churches and synagogues, theaters and concert venues, anywhere people gather to learn, pray, sing, or participate.

Alarmingly there are 953 registered hate groups in America and one of the first of them was the Ku Klux Klan. Ivoryton Playhouse is allowing a glimpse into the KKK’s Southern roots in the 1960’s with the world premiere of “The Queens of the Golden Mask” by Carole Lockwood until Sunday, November 18.

Surely you remember the strong women of “Steel Magnolias.” This sisterhood is quite different. Their friendship has a secret at its base, has been bonded by devotion to a cause, on the surface social, to an organization that bombs churches and sets fire to schools, all in the guise of belief in Jesus. It really is in the name of hatred and prejudice.

In the musical “South Pacific,” a song emphasizes that bigotry is “carefully taught.” Generations instill the concept of white supremacy in the name of religion and feel justified in their anger and fear.

A finely tuned cast led by Ellen Barry as Ida, affectionately known as Moma, is grandmother to her ladies. She is at once warm and caring, but, when threatened, becomes a fierce protector. She can morph into a monster willing to kill to protect her and her ideals. She terrorizes Martha Nell, a frightened Sarah Jo Provost, who is married to Ida’s son and causes her to go to great lengths to guarantee she never delivers a baby who will inherit these evils.

Ida needs seven believers to join the secret cult so she also recruits Jean, an eager Jes Bedwineck, Ophelia, a socially sensitive Bonnie Black, a very pregnant Kathy (Two), Bethany Fitzgerald, Faith, an obedient Gerrianne Genga and the northern newcomer Rose, a newly married Anna Fagan. These women bake cakes and buy dynamite, under a pledge of secrecy, protective of their husbands and their cause.

Jacqueline Hubbard embraces the risk of exposing the roots of this insidious evil as she directs this revealing and monumental work. Based on a true story, this drama tells what happens when women inside the fold stand morally upright in protest and for civil rights and humanity.

For tickets ($55, seniors $50, students $25, children $20), call the Ivoryton Playhouse, 103 Main Street, Ivoryton at 860-767-7318 or online at Performances are Wednesday and Sunday at 2 p.m., Wednesday and Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. There are talkbacks after the Wednesday and Thursday evening shows.

Look behind the hoods and the golden masks into the hearts and minds of these females who would willingly break the law in support of their twisted beliefs.