Thursday, November 26, 2020
Theatre Review: TWIST
By Elzena Rankins (Contributing Writer)
Published July 2, 2011

Boston (Matthew Johnson) and Roosevelt (Jared Grimes), center, in a scene from TWIST – An American Musical at The Pasadena Playhouse. Photo: Craig Schwartz.

Mr. Prudhomme (Cliff Bemis) and Della (Tamyra Gray) in a scene from TWIST – An American Musical at The Pasadena Playhouse. Photo: Craig Schwartz.

Twist’s nightmare scene from TWIST – An American Musical at The Pasadena Playhouse. Photo: Craig Schwartz


Boston (Matthew Johnson, center) and his gang in a scene from TWIST – An American Musical at The Pasadena Playhouse. Photo: Craig Schwartz.

Twist: An American Musical
A must see! Crowd pleaser production!

Twist- An American Musical is a must see for all, Based on the original Charles Dickens’ “Oliver Twist” (first published in 1838) but with its own spin; presents a  heartwarming story of a young innocent orphan boy in search of his identity, family and finding a place he can call home.

Along his journey, Twist finds out that family is not always blood related but of those who love you.   The play is set in the Depression era of 1920’s in New Orleans and deals with racism to the highest extent. Twist who was birthed from a white woman and a black father, finds out the hard way as he is teased because of the color of his skin. In the play, Twist sings a really compelling song that relates to how he feels about being teased, asking God, why did he make him a color no one likes, which becomes one of the most touching scenes in the play as he innocently questions his existence.

Twist features…William F. Brown and Tina Tippet who wrote the book for the all black cast adaptation of “The Wizard of Oz,” “The Wiz” they were brought in to rewrite the book for Twist. The Musical score is by Tena Clark and Gary Prim, along with multi award winning Debbie Allen who directed and choreographed. Also starring American Idols season one, Tamyra Gray and Alaman Diadhiou along with 31 other excellent cast members.

Although the play touches upon racism it is still very kid friendly. “Yes you are taken aback by it, Its apart of our American history and we need not to forget it because we can repeat it…the little snippet of what we have is good enough for little kids, just so they can be like who are they and what are they doing.   It gets them thinking and it makes people have to talk about history,” said Tamyra Gray on how people would react to the racism in the play.


The Musical score for twist features the musical pulse of New Orleans in the 1920’s and is highlighted by a tapestry of soaring ballads, hot jazz, blues, gospel and tap infused dance numbers. “This is my legacy piece-my dream come true” said composer/lyricist Tena Clark, who wrote all of the songs for the production along with Gary Prim. “The Music is the best gumbo I have ever tasted,” said Debbie Allen.

As the story unfolds one might find themselves wrapped in Twist character as he depicts an innocent little boy just trying to find his place in the world. Twist goes through life changing events but at the end finds what he has been searching for. “It’s a universal story about love, we are all seeking love in some sort of fashion” said Gray on who can relate to the production.

“I think really good theater touches people, makes them think and look at themselves. Hopefully the play will give them great joy and make them feel. That’s the best that I can hope for,” said Allen on what she wants people to walk away with after seeing the production.

Twist is a must see production, as Debbie Allen and the crew entertain your soul while at the same time making it an educational experience.  It’s an audience pleaser and a definitely a must see.

Genre: Musical, Comedy and Educational.
Ratings -Two Thumbs Up

Categories: Theater

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