Jewel Box Theatre Starts a Successful New Season of Live Theatre with “Yellow”
Slowly but surely things are starting to return to some semblance of normal. It’s a new and different normal, but traces of lives pre-pandemic are beginning to appear. That is true of theatre. Jewel Box Theatre has a long history presenting quality productions in Oklahoma City at 36th and Walker Avenue. After the First Christian Church had to make the unfortunate decision to leave the building (still for sale) the theatre had no home. Along came Covid-19 and it seemed as though the theatre would fade away. It didn’t. Entering the parking lot for the First Christian Church and the empty space formerly the Jewel Box, then looking east through the trees there is a building. The Disciples First Christian Church is located there now. And so is the Jewel Box Theatre. At the northeast end of the parking lot is the driveway to the new church facility. Taking the fork to the left as you drive east, there one finds the entrance to the Jewel Box Theatre. The space is next to the sanctuary. Derek Kenney is the Jewel Box Theatre Production Manager and he is filling big shoes. They are a nice fit. Do come.
“Yellow” is one of Del Shores fascinating plays and Doobie Potter directs this first live presentation for Season 63 with great humor and sensitivity. “Yellow” has a twist more intriguing than a mystery but it is not a mystery. The play is about a typically happy family of the modern age showcasing mom, dad and two children; a successful football star taking after his coach father and a typically morose teenage daughter. The daughter is Gracie and she is always emoting. Because she wants to become an actress! The son is Dayne, named Robert Dayne Westmoreland after his father and he is just about the best football player preparing for a successful senior year is to be spent looking at college football scholarships. Mom is Kate Westmoreland; a well-respected psychologist and Dad is Bobby Westmoreland; dynamic high school coach. These two are obviously still very much in love. Gracie’s best friend is Kendall Parker, a drama classmate. They are both talented and don’t seem to fit in perfectly with peers. Kendall’s mother is Sister Timothea a very devout but narrow-minded Christian.
The play begins with humor, and the underlying comic timing with these characters remains throughout the show, but the twist is tragic and patrons are well advised to bring tissues. The cast is filled with actors familiar to Oklahoma audiences from years at Jewel Box, Lyric, Oklahoma Children’s Theatre, Pollard, Carpenter Square, Poteet and academic theatres among others. The space is new and different but the ambiance is very familiar.
Crystal Barby is a brilliant actress, cast perfectly by Potter in the role of Kate Westmoreland. Morgan Brown is Bobby Westmoreland bringing a great deal of substance to the role of the loving husband and father who loves football and coaching. Together the two of them have tremendous chemistry creating an atmosphere where all the characters can blossom and build relationships. Taylor Lowell is son Dayne, the perfect son, a great kid, a blessing almost too perfect to be true. Lowell establishes the right tone exactly with his love for his little sister apparent even though she harasses him. Elaina Price is Gracie Westmoreland, mis-understood, unappreciated drama queen and Price plays it to the hilt. Cam Taylor is Kendall Parker, Gracie’s best friend and fan, a talented young performer in his own right. Toby Tobin is Kendall’s mother; she cannot abide his participation in secular activities. She is horrified by her son’s interest in the den of inequity that is theatre. Her performance as a woman more concerned with the soul than the life of her son is phenomenal.
Zaneen Fletcher-Hall is usually on stage, but is also a very efficient stage manager for Potter. Set Design is by Shawn Hancock with construction by Cadence Cloud and painting by Phillip Lee. The crew is Isaiah Williams and Genevive Vincent. The stage is well-appointed and the audience is comfortable on the new risers built by donation from House of Kawasaki and Doug Monson. Comfortable. Also, Skyward Cabinetry and Construction provided assistance with the design and work.
Potter and Kenney put together an excellent crew who along with the superb cast Potter assembles deliver a highly professional performance with “Yellow” an Oklahoma premiere and a credit to Del Shores. “Yellow” plays through April 11, 2021 kicking off a great traditional season for Jewel Box Theatre. For information call 405-521-1786 or visit JewelBoxOKC.com or on Facebook: Facebook.com JBTheatre. One might feel a twinge of regret driving by the old space, but home is not the place, home is where the people are, and theatre patrons will be home again attending this particularly heart-wrenching and heartwarming performance!