The Bubbly Black Girl…

One of my goals for 2017 was to go to the theatre more. With shows like Bubbly Black Girl sheds her Chameleon Skin it’s pretty easy to stick to a goal like this…

Small musical theatres is where the magic is really created. When audiences laugh, gasp and smile in unison its something beautiful to be a part of. The cast of Bubbly Black Girl, all have something magical about them within their own rights.

Cast your mind back 50 years and try to imagine life, growing up in 1963? Now try imagine as a black female in 1963. This musical doesn’t dwell or hide any truths, but what it does is takes you on a journey starting in 1963 LA, through the eyes of a young bubbly black girl named Viveca. Forget any stereotypes and just read what the tin says, this bubbly black girl has big dreams to become a dancer. She doesn’t face the stereotypical troubles that you may be thinking of. She has her own views and outlook on life that isn’t necessarily the same as every other black persons.

The beginning of this production immediately reminded me of Motown the Musical. My Mother has wanted to see Motown the Musical for the longest but this is no substitution. The energy levels, choreographer and outstanding singing from the cast set me in the right era and the right tone for the play throughout. If you’ve never been to Theatre Royal East Stratford, you’re missing out. Smaller than some of your typical West End theatres but doesn’t lack the detail and authentic theatric vibes. As a Newham resident I was entitled to discounted tickets for this performance permitting I attended on the selected evening. This is something I’ll continue to use in the future and advise any of other residents of Newham to do so.

I hadn’t done much research prior into the Bubbly Black Girl, except from reading what was on the website. I wondered what struggles would this character go through that we haven’t already heard about. The title alone makes you wonder, Bubbly Black Girl sheds her Chameleon Skin. You don’t often heard black girls/women being described as bubbly these days, which is quite disappointing. Will it be the typical racism? Her parents disapprove of her lifestyle? She is bullied and overcomes it? Well no, she remains bubbly and a loveable character throughout. Extremely talented as a singer and dancer. Someone who is well grounded from a caring family background with both parents present in her life. However, she doesn’t see how black people are being treated.

Karis Jack (plays young Viveca) and Sophia Mackay (plays older Viveca) bring a lot of depth to the development of Viveca and both have incredible voices. The energy levels throughout the performance remained high and as I came along on opening night I could only imagine the mix of emotions. I found the transition from young Viveca into older Viveca something I wasn’t expecting yet it worked extremely well.

There were moments throughout this musical that were relatable. Sometimes I’ve been guilty of not understanding the full extent of what some black people in the UK are going through. As a young black woman I’m living in my own bubble. I’m blinded by how my own life is going in comparison to the standards set by the media or other white people that I am failing to see that people like me, black people like me aren’t being treated fairly or equally. It’s often been said that black people of a lighter shade are treated differently and these references are met throughout the play. With Viveca loving her white dolls and relating to them more than her black dolls. Not understanding why black boys were easily profiled by the police and always fitting a ‘description’ of some sort.

Notably each cast member brings a different element to the table through their performance whether it was the execution of their character, vocals, dance moves and/or energy. This cast works beautifully well together to convey a story that transforms you from London 2017 back to LA 1960s.

Bubbly Black Girl is the kind of play that if I could act in. If you haven’t had a chance to see it yet, it will be showing at Theatre Royal East, Stratford until March 11!

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