Reviewed by Lynn Kirk, beast cancer survivor
The humor of breast cancer sounds like the ultimate oxymoron, but the musical Breast in Show masterfully blends comedy with tragedy as it examines six very different people’s struggles with the way-too-prevalent disease.
Playing to a nearly full house at Willow Lawn, talented actors donned multiple roles as they guided the audience through the harrowing, yet sometimes humorous journey of breast cancer diagnosis, treatment, and life (or not) thereafter.
Its high-energy musical numbers sometimes garnered laughter, other times silence, and a few times tears. In between, skilled one-liners zinged the patrons in unexpected ways: “Time, all I need is time” … “My oncologist is the man I adore!” … “How I long for a chance to play at NORMAL” … “Cancer arrived like a thief”… and from a co-survivor (one character’s spouse), “I know she’s sick, but why do I feel I’m dying?”
The stretches of humor helped ease pain, tackle stress, and balance perspectives. The Chemo Café’s poison cocktails; the deadliest-cell-in-town dance; the oncologist’s blah, blah, blah diagnosis no one can understand; and Freddie’s trunk of life-changing cranial prostheses, i.e. wigs, provided comic relief when needed most.
There were no misrepresentations, probably because the show was inspired by actual medical interviews with patients, medical personnel, and families. True to the disease, the actors represented women of different ages – as well as a male breast cancer victim – and not all survived. And though each prognosis and circumstance differed, every breast cancer patient was deemed a warrior: a determined fighter strengthened by hope!
Produced by Carol Piersol, the 90-minute show is part of the annual Acts of Faith Festival and is in partnership with the Virginia Repertory Theatre, Willow Lawn Stage.
Breast in Show continues with performances on various dates through March 19. Tickets are $25 per person; $20 per person for groups of 10 minimum; and $10 per student (with valid ID). Additional details are available at www.Va-Rep.org/bis.html or (804) 282-2620.
Starring Andrew Hamm, Brittany D. Simmons, Chloe Williams, Jeanie Rule, Lauren Leinhaas-Cook, and Russell Rowland. | Book by Lisa Hayes | Music and Lyrics by Joan Cushing | Conceived by Eileen Mitchard | Directed by Billy Christopher Maupin |Music Direction by Kim Fox | Choreography by Jennifer Hammond
For more information on efforts to combat breast cancer, visit www.KomenCentralVa.org
Courtesy of Lynn Kirk of www.Kirk-Communications.com