The Reviews Are IN, and it's a SMASH SUCCESS!!

The Pulse
Chattanooga’s Weekly alternative
June 9-15, 2004

Review
That Other Woman’s Child A Blast of Bluegrass and Broadway
by Ruth Cartlidge.

That Other Woman’s Child, the original musical that debuted last weekend at the Chattanooga State Humanities Theatre, owes a least part of its feel to Broadway classics like Oklahoma and Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, with their hoe-down production numbers and celebratory endings. Where That Other Woman’s Child really shines, however, is when it takes Broadway musical traditions and twists them on their tap shoes. The result is an innovative and terrific night of musical theatre that should not be missed before it tries for its eventual destination on Broadway.

That Other Woman’s Child is the story of an L.A. professional woman who returns to her Kentucky roots to claim her birthright as the daughter of a runaway husband and “that other woman.” When Dawn Hanover enters her entrenched family’s mountain cabin, ruled by the iron-fisted matriarch, she runs into a log wall of hill country custom.

That Other Woman’s Child walks a very fine line between realistically portraying mountaineers and going over the edge in Lil’ Abner stereotypes. The stock characters are all present, but eerily recognizable for 2004. Young ingénue, Corinthianne , openly defies her preacher daddy, but wears discount store Capri pants, not Daisy Duke shorts. The Great Kentucky Knobs are the genetically questionable branch of the Hanover family. They boast mullets and are defiantly stupid in their Valvoline t-shirts. Granny Loomis looks like she stepped right out of a double-wide trailer, grungy slippers and all, and wouldn’t be caught dead making homemade salves and potions. Unfortunately, where That Other Woman’s Child crosses the believability line is with the character of Dawn. She is so stereotypically west coast that she comes across as stiff and unsympathetic.

The score is a mixture of bluegrass, gospel, and show tune that really takes off when it pushes musical boundaries. “Please Tell Us What To Do Lord” is a brilliant parody of the tent revival gospel hymn and “Four Hands on the Plow,” one of the best melodies of the show, is charmed by the self-conscious sentimentality of its lyrics. The thing to note is the virtuosity of the bluegrass sextet accompanying the musical. Then watch for Mark Knowles’ precise and funky choreography. He has taken basic clogging and square dance moves and added hip-hop and time steps to bring unique life to Landrum and Clinton’s foot-stompin’ production numbers. And the cast does not miss a step or twitch.

Director Landrum and her company have put together the most original piece of musical theatre to it Tennessee stages in a very long time. That Other Woman’s Child is an auspicious debut for Landrum and partner, Rex Knowles’ new professional theatre at Chatt. State. Don’t miss this show. Its beautifully staged, well performed, and a great time.

 

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