Compelling story and near-perfect acting in ‘Stick Fly’ at Rockville Little Theatre

The show combines family angst and outrageous soap opera.

You’ve got to see Stick Fly at Rockville Little Theatre (RLT). It’s an amalgam of deep drama and outrageous soap operas. It has secrets. It has colorism. It has classism. You can tell how hard director Kevin Sockwell worked with the cast because, individually and collectively, their performances were near perfect.

Lydia R. Diamond’s script is about a wealthy Black family, the LeVays, getting together for a refreshing weekend on Martha’s Vineyard. Popular singer Alicia Keys was the show’s original producer.

The LeVays are an example of the kind of Black people who write books, hold MFA degrees, and vacation in exotic places. The haughty exterior of the LeVays is shattered when the sons, Kent and Flip, bring home their future spouses to meet their father, Joseph, who holds destructive secrets.

MarQuis Fair as Kent and Aja Goode as Taylor in ‘Stick Fly.’ Photo by Ken Kemp.

Into this milieu steps Taylor Bradley Scott, Kent’s girlfriend and an entomologist who observed the LeVay family similar to the way she observed the titular household “stick flies” in her work. Aja Goode’s performance as Taylor juggled emotions such as love, disappointment, and anger.

Taylor and Kimber (the fantastic Rachel Schlaff), Flip’s girlfriend, didn’t get along. Kimber was a white woman (“a straight-up WASP”) who worked with inner-city children and wasn’t afraid to bring up race. Kimber seemed to be one of the more centered characters. Taylor didn’t like Kimber’s “white liberal bullshit.”

Dr. Joseph LeVay, aka Dad, as played by Louis B. Murray, commanded the stage with the majesty of a lion. Murray made every scene some of the best I’ve seen in years. Many of his scenes involved secret revelations or eavesdropping. His scenes with MarQuis Fair, who played his son Kent, and Donta Hensley, who played his other son, Flip, were pure gold. Murray also had dynamite scenes with Goode and family maid Cheryl (Gifty Amponsen) late in the play.

Fair and Hensley were intense in their joint scenes. A pivotal scene was a devastating revelation involving who dated whose girlfriend in the past.

Rachel Schlaff as Kimber, MarQuis Fair as Kent, Gifty Amponsen as Cheryl, and Donta Hensley as in ‘Stick Fly.’ Photo by Ken Kemp.

Amponsen (in her RLT debut) played the LeVays’ college-bound maid, Cheryl, with the angst equivalent to the many things her character faced, including her true paternity. Cheryl had many phone conversations with the quite ill Mother LeVay (Joseph’s wife), a well-educated scion of the Whitcomb family. According to the backstory of this show, the mother’s great-great-grandfather saved a white man’s life, leading him to grant her family the land on Martha’s Vineyard.

I wanted to take the kitchen cabinets of set designers Maggie Modig and Steven Leshin home with me. Jeff McDermott’s properties and set decorations included an (imitation?) Romare Bearden painting. Laura W. Andruski’s costumes were simple and effective; I liked the shirts she dressed Murray in.

Stick Fly “allows black folks to be human—not Jackie Robinson icons nor drug dealers on the streets. Human beings with the same goals, struggles, amusements, and family issues as people of all races and colors,” wrote Sockwell in his director’s notes. Be sure to catch this show and enjoy a compelling story and acting clinic.

Running Time: Three hours, with a 15-minute intermission.

Stick Fly plays through May 7, 2023, presented by Rockville Little Theatre, performing at the F. Scott Fitzgerald Theatre, 603 Edmonston Drive, Rockville, MD. Tickets ($22 for adults, $20 for seniors and students) are available online or by calling the box office at 240-314-8690.

COVID Safety: Rockville Little Theatre’s policy:

Full vaccination is the best possible way to ensure the safety of our patrons, artists, and staff and it is the strongest form of prevention against the spread of COVID-19. RMT attendants [may] ask you to present proof of vaccination or negative PCR test results, along with a photo ID, prior to being admitted into the F. Scott Fitzgerald Theatre building.

Questions about Rockville Musical Theatre’s COVID-19 policies? Please email us at [email protected]

Stick Fly by Lydia R. Diamond

Kent: MarQuis Fair
Taylor: Aja Goode
Cheryl: Grifty Amponsen
Flip: Donta Hensley
Dad: Louis B. Murray
Kimber: Rachel Schlaff

Director: Kevin Sockwell
Set Designers: Maggie Modig and Steven Leshin
Properties and Set decoration: Jeff McDermott
Costumes: Laura W. Andruski
Light Designer: Andrew Harasty
Intimacy Coach: Christine V. Hurst
Fight Choreography: Kevin Sockwell


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