Magness Lake, in Heber Springs, is a magnet for swans
Like many plays produced by Little Rock's Weekend Theater, “Elegies for Angels, Punks and Raging Queens” carries a heavy message. Inspired by the Names Project AIDS Memorial Quilt, it confronts the ongoing epidemic of HIV/AIDS head-on.
Set somewhere in the afterlife, the audience meets 33 people who have been killed by HIV/AIDS. Actors enter the stage one at a time wearing all black to deliver short, poetic monologues about their life and death. Some monologues bring laughter, others tears, but each is moving in its own way.
Christian Davis gave an outstanding performance as Dwight, a Broadway singer and the son of fundamentalist Christians. Through his monologue, Davis maintained a delicate balance between the severity of his disease and the hilarity he found as his parents tried one last time to bring him to Jesus.
Two young cast members also demanded attention. Ten-year-old Heaven Wallace delivered her lines flawlessly as Khadija, a child orphaned after being born with HIV/AIDS. Kendrick Barnes, a freshman at Parkview, did a great job with his character, Lamar, an inner-city youth who found kindness in a social worker.
Danette Scott Perry played Alma, a woman who contracted HIV/AIDS from her boyfriend. Lyricist Bill Russell created Alma especially for the Little Rock performance, and Perry fills the role brilliantly.
Carl Carter, Charles Holloway, Kim Duval and Dominique Holloway, who appear between monologues, performed fantastic vocals, songs that reflect emotions ranging from denial and anger to acceptance and jest.
The 37-member cast channeled its energy into getting the point across: HIV/AIDS affects everyone. Preachers, prostitutes, babies, grandmothers, gay, straight, black, white — the disease isn't choosy.
A special benefit performance will take place Thursday, Nov. 13, at 6:45 p.m. Tickets are $30 and include drinks and hors d'oeuvres and a special Q and A with lyricist Bill Russell before the performance. Proceeds will be donated to Arkansas children living with HIV/AIDS.