When Soapdom was first contacted by James Reynolds' (Abe, DOOL) peeps regarding his latest theatrical endeavor, directing 3 Blacque Chix in 'Heriotique-Ahh' (think 'erotica') at the Fremont Centre Theatre in South Pasadena, we didn't know quite know what to think. What was this play about? Who are the three blacque chix? How did Reynolds get involved in the production? What's a sexistential comedy?
'Herotique-aahh',' as the title of the new show written and performed by 3 Blacque Chix implies, is about sex and sensuality, but more than that, it is about empowerment. These three African American women well into their forties say and do what women, particularly women of some seasoning, have been thinking about all along! They are three sensuous, scrumptious ladies who are darn proud of every year they've lived to get here.
3 Blacque Chix is the brain child of Mariann Aalda, who got together with Iona Morris and Lola Love to create this new entertainment that tells the truth about sex and love in a way that only women who have lived long enough to have a life could tell it: That women who aren't too young can do it better ' and more often!
So, my husband and I headed over to South Pasadena to catch the opening night performance. Needless to say, we were both totally entertained. Don't get me wrong, however. This play is bawdy, sexual and plays to adult audiences only, so 18 and over please.
It's a play in one act. Mariann Aalda is Lady M, the Reformed Stepford Wife. Iona Morris is Lady I, the Goddess of Love and Sexual Freedom, and Lola Love is Lady L, the Dominatrix. Each expresses things that so many women may think about, but rarely get the chance to articulate. Lola Love says, 'Black women are hungry for their stories to be told.' Women in the audience of all colors must have experienced that same hunger as the material is easily relatable to anyone, regardless of race. Even the males in the audience laughed out loud at the comments and antics of Ladies I, L, and M.
So how did James Reynolds, who has played the role of Abe Carver on Days of our Lives for over 23 years, get introduced to this play?
'I have known Iona Morris for sometime,' Reynolds shared with Soapdom. 'My wife, Lissa, knew Lola and Mariann. My wife had seen their play in a cabaret form in L.A. [Then] I had an opportunity to see it in Winston-Salem, North Carolina at the National Black Theater Festival. It was a departure from what we had done in the past at our theater, but it presented what might be considered controversial subjects in such a fun way, I thought 'let's do it.'' In the photo at right, Reynolds is flanked by Lola Love, Mariann Aalda, Lissa Reynolds and Iona Morris.
James and Lissa Reynolds are the artistic directors of The Fremont Center Theatre. Reynolds won the Valley Theatre League's ADA Award for 'National Pastime,' an L.A. Times Critic's Choice, which starred his son, Jed Reynolds, in the role of Jackie Robinson. He preceded 'National Pastime' with the long-running 'The Tangled Snarl/Murder Me Once,' also a Times Critic's Choice. He and his wife were recently nominated for an NAACP Theatre Award in the Local (non-union) category as producers for 'National Pastime.'
After his involvement in the two prior productions, Soapdom had to know what spurred him to direct 'Herotique-aahh.'
'My wife convinced me to direct it,' he shared. 'At first, I thought a woman should do it, but then the idea intrigued me. I wanted to enhance the sense of fun that was already a part of the piece, but needed to be brought out more. Adding more production parts...lights, etc, and the [cabaret] act became a play.'
Along with Reynolds being a daytime icon, two of the three blacque chix have also performed on soaps.
As one of the few African-American actors in a contract role on daytime television in the early to mid-eighties, Mariann Aalda (Lady M) -- who played the feisty, young criminal attorney, DiDi Bannister, on the ABC soap opera, Edge Of Night -- was lauded as a trailblazer. Along with her other television credits including First & Ten, and The Royal Family, she also appeared on Guiding Light and Sunset Beach. Her film credits include The Wiz, Class Act and Nobody's Perfect.
Iona Morris (Lady I) has a host of television and feature film credits including Law & Order: Criminal Intent, The District, Moesha and StarTrek: Voyager to name a few. The daughter of actor Greg Morris (Mission Impossible, the TV series), she likewise starred on a number of soaps including Passions, General Hospital, and As the World Turns.
Lola Love (Lady L) toured internationally for ten years as the lead dancer for James Brown. His song 'Hot Pants' was written for her. Along with appearing in off Broadway productions with Robert Hooks' Group Theatre Workshop and Vinnette Carroll's Urban Arts Corps, she's appeared in the films 'Up the Down Staircase,' 'The Landlord,' 'The Super,' and the Oscar-winning documentary, 'When We Were Kings.'
Although the subject matter of 'Herotique-aahh' is 'R' rated, sometimes bordering on 'X' rated, albeit with no nudity, Reynolds encourages the theatre goers not to pre-judge the material. 'I hope the audience sees this show with an open mind and is ready to laugh out loud at things they may have only smiled about before,' he said. 'These women are having fun, and they put out the message of their play with no sense of embarrassment -- only joy.'
Well, this theatre goer certainly laughed out loud, and I think you will too.
'Herotique-aahh' at the Fremont Centre Theatre, South Pasadena, CA through February 26, 2006. Starring Mariann Aalda, Iona Morris and Lola Love. Directed by James Reynolds. Performaces are Fridays and Saturdays at 8 PM. Sundays at 2:30 PM. Tickets are $25.00. Call 866 811-4111 or visit www.3blacquechix.com to order tix online.
Photos by Jerry Neilll
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