The Passing of Pearl brings heart (and soul food) to GVT

By Sarah Mansheim, GVT Development and Marketing Associate



Last weekend, 4Pals Productions brought their touring play, The Passing of Pearl, to Greenbrier Valley Theatre, and on Saturday night, a couple of us were lucky to catch the show.

Admittedly, I’m a theatre newbie, both to the workplace and the, you know, theatre. So far, I’ve been to both the New Voices Play Festival and The Passing of Pearl. I can’t wait to check out all of this season’s Mainstage productions. Come on April! I feel like after checking out all of our productions, I’ll actually be able to call myself a Theatre Person! (Jazz Hands!)

The Passing of Pearl told a charming tale of two elderly, female diner workers, Leateen and Daphne, played earnestly and quite effectively, by two male actors - playwright Vain Colby (Leateen) and actor Skip Crane (Daphne). As the play opens in the diner, the two women are mourning the loss of their beloved diner owner and boss, Pearl, whose ghost lurks about each scene, smiling benevolently (and sometimes incredulously) at the two ladies’ memories of their lives in and out of the Memphis, Tennessee, diner.

Leateen, nicknamed “Teeny,” is the diner’s cook whose specialty is fried chicken, and Daphne is the waitress who makes a good plate of potato salad. The two ladies swap stories, jabs, and memories, all the while wondering what will happen to them now that their boss and dear friend, is gone.

Colby and Crane did a marvelous job in their portrayals of Teeny and Daphne – by the end of the show, I felt a kinship to the both of their female characters. And Karen Harvey, playing the Spirit of Pearl, conveyed so much to the audience, all without saying a single word. Actress Shawn Williams rounded out the show as Pearl’s trouble-making daughter Charlene, bringing resentment and tension to the two-act play.

GVT’s Mainstage season begins April 27 with Arthur Miller's adaption of Henrik Ibsen’s An Enemy of the People. After my two quick doses of theatre in the form of the New Voices Play Festival and The Passing of Pearl, I’m psyched for a full season of shows and maybe becoming a Theatre Person! (Jazz Hands!)

Laura Kastenbauer