Review: ‘Our Lady of 121st Street’ Entertains, Impresses

After the death of Sister Rose, a group of her former students return to Harlem to pay respects. But at the funeral home, her dead body has been stolen.

“Our Lady of 121st Street” is about the funeral of a well-loved teacher who passed away. It follows a winding story as her body was stolen the day before the funeral. Her former students come to pay their respects, but the past brings tension between everyone.

Sitting in the first row of the theater, I could see the actors up close and experience the audience around me. Never having experienced the theater on campus before, the ambience in the room was full of energy. The theater played music that kept the mood cheerful, even though the content of the show would be grim. In between scenes, they would play music and sometimes the actors would dance or bring out stage props to entertain the audience.

The first act introduced the characters with transitions between the funeral home, a church confessional and a bar in New York. It was lighthearted and comedic but with the conversations between the characters, there was a deep underlying tension. As the story progressed, there were moments of the tension building and an overall question of what the characters were struggling through. The story revealed glimpses on how the teacher, Sister Rose, had impacted the characters in different ways, but the mystery of if they would ever find her body remained.

After a short intermission, the second act began. It continued to build suspense and emotions of the characters, intriguing the audience. I sat in tears during the emotional fight between the brother’s scene and could feel the passion the actors were expressing in that moment. Tangible feelings advanced in characters and it reached a standstill. Nothing settled between characters, but something had changed.

In the end, only half of Sister Rose’s body was found and there was nothing else the police and characters could do.

The show was entertaining from start to finish. The actors captured the emotions of the audience with their portrayal of the characters perfectly.  I enjoyed my night at the theater and was left wanting to more.

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