Pullman Porter Blues

Nov. 23—Jan. 6 Check with venue for price information.
Arena Stage
1101 6th St. SW, Washington, DC
(202) 488-3300
Three generations of men explore the romance of the rails in Cheryl L. West's new musical. Pullman snags its audience early with richly sung renditions of a railway work song and a couple of solid blues—and that’s before the redoubtable E. Faye Butler rolls in on a luggage cart, skirt hiked up to her knees as the soused songstress Sister Juba, to inform the assembled porters in no uncertain terms that “Wild Women Don’t Have the Blues.” When she’s wrapped up, the audience is, too—the evening’s a done deal from there. The plot might feel a little overstuffed. But it clicks along smoothly, and the portrait it paints of an important slice of African-American history is intriguing enough that many audiences will feel compelled to dig deeper. Most gratifying is that the characters—and what’s at stake for them—feel real and immediate. (TG)

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