The original cast in 1987 at the Goodspeed Opera House, led by Tina Fabrique

Reviewed by John Garcia, Talkin’ Broadway

"What did I do to turn you away?" -- Abyssinia

That line is sung during a powerful moment in the song "Abby's Lament" after she has gone through some very devastating personal situations in Abyssinia.... One of the final lines has her sobbing, looking upward, saying, "God, oh God. Do you hear me?" The art of musical theatre can transcend the stage boards to reflect actual life, and there's no greater example than that of the journey of Abyssinia....Abyssinia's furious cries and pleas to God reflect what I'm sure we all have asked ourselves in our prayers about what has happened in our nation. Do yourself a favor and let the cast and music soothe that pain in their journey with a small girl named "Abyssinia."

They soothed mine.

Lyric Stage Production, Dallas Morning News 10.07.01

[Abyssinia] is an ideal uplifter of spirits in this troubled time. A glorious sequence of up-tempo numbers keeps things bubbling. The song that opens the second act, "Pickin' Up the Pieces," has the entire audience putting their hands together, ready to testify. Carol Dennis, the Broadway and gospel-circuit veteran, sets the powerhouse tone for the singing. She gives the fun songs like "Recipe" a bounce and raises the roof with her big number, "Honey and Lemon."

Arena Stage, Chicago Tribune, 8.19.88

America would seem to have a hot little potential hit on its hands.... It would stand on its own as a work of drama, but as a musical vehicle it's just plain stunning.... Abyssinia is refreshing, unpretentious, authentic and a genuinely American musical.... It deserves Broadway.

North Shore Magazine, 10.19. 95

The variety of spirited, harmonious tunesfrom rousing gospel to joyous ragtime ... make Abyssinia a healing, revelatory show ... perfect for our current national psyche.

North Shore Music Theatre, The Boston Herald, 10.13.95

...a musical with a voice of its own ... stirs the viewer out of the expected ... a distinguished addition to the canon of American musical theatre.

SCENE Magazine

...a percolating, vibrantly crafted musical embroidered with dollar signs. The timing is perfect for this old fashioned plum of a musical to wing its way to Broadway.

Helen Hayes Theatre, The Westchester County Weekly, 10.10.96

...a powerful celebration of a show. Abyssinia is a triumph.

Cleveland Playhouse, NY Newsday, Thurs., 2.23.95:

In 1991, the musical [Abyssinia] was the biggest hit in the Cleveland Playhouse's 75-year history.

The Washington Times, 8.9.88

...a more interesting and emotionally powerful work than many shows that make it to Broadway.... It's potential is so apparent ... a musical with a sizable future.

Goodspeed Opera House, Hartford Courant 8.31.87

...an exuberant, soulful joy to the eye and ear that it is surely destined to be a Broadway hit ... a moving force on stage and at the box office.... It resounds with plenty of spiritual thunder, melodic lightning and professional flair.... Feel blessed by this still forming but already hot prospect for Broadway.

Musical Theatre Works' workshop production at CSC Repertory
New York Post, 4.15.87

A story to make your eyes mist and music to make your heart sing ... if you're looking for cloth of gold, it's all woven into the songs.

New York Times, 4.12.87

Abyssinia is a solidly crafted work with a strong narrative drive and a simple, appealing score.

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Copyright 2004-2007 Joyce Carol Thomas. All rights reserved.
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