Filled with down home moaning blues sprinkled with glittering magical realism, Thunder Knocking on the Door is packing the house at Creative Cauldron. In a small southern Alabama town, a mysterious guitar player who calls himself Marvell Thunder shows up on the doorstep of an unassuming musical family bringing a challenge, wreaking havoc and possible joy to the blind daughter who is sequestered inside. Once he proves he’s got special powers, he challenges her, the daughter of the only guitarist who ever beat him in “cutting” up licks on the guitar, to a contest. If she wins, she gets to keep her father’s treasured home-made guitar and get her sight back.
Creative Cauldron’s intimate space brings the audience into the magical mix of realism and fantasy in an engagingly fun time. The performers do justice to Keith Glover’s earthy language bringing a comfort level to his just telling it like it is and pulling no punches, a throw-back to an earlier time before correctness and careful self-censorship.
Welcome to Bessemer Alabama, 1966. All kinds of words and cultural expressions fly between two family members, uncle and nephew played with relish by Greg Watkins and Bryan Jeffrey a hoot and hot mess as Jaguar Senior and Jr. Dupree. They tussle and hustle and sling out their insults in near dozens intensity, but have each other’s back when confronted with the mystical powers of Thunder, played to the hilt by Clifton Walker III who nearly knocks down the dang metaphorical door with a powerful entrance and mesmerizing stance. Take him on if you dare.
Thunder Knocking on the Door
closes March 10, 2019
Details and tickets
Kelli Blackwell and Greg Watkins anchor the show with gravitas and charm sharing the fascinating backstory of their own mid-life romance. Shayla Simmons oozes sensual appeal as Glory, whether wearing a dumpy shirtdress when she’s sightless or shimmering white chemise when she seductively croons “I’m Back.” The transformation has all come from an enticing Thunder as he dangles the possibility that she can keep her new sight if she can out pick him. She’s got the legacy and the licks and the stakes couldn’t be higher. At the same time, Thunder must come to grips with his own desires – to retain unbridled power or succumb to love. The crooning music, excellent performances and artistry will keep you mesmerized to enjoy each thrilling twist.
Costumes by Margie Jervis are as much a wonder as the set she also designed, with a gorgeous life-sized tree radiant with branches of glowing bulbs and filled with dreams and fantasy. The fantastical colors and lights by James Morrison transport to an out of this world magical realism as they shift to different hues with a visual crescendo at the crossroads.
The songs match the story with full-throttle Delta blues throughout while the introductory sounds and intermission fill in the mix with retro 1960’s early rock and roll for a full emersion in the sound of the times. The directors Matt Conner and Stephen Gregory Smith present the show’s folklore qualities, easing in the magical “shape-shifting” qualities of Thunder and his fantastical powers as he controls the character’s movements and ends in an electrifying showdown at “the place where two roads meet.” Terrific guitar players—Rick Peralta and Chip Carvell are the behind the scenes wonders under the direction of Elisa Rosman on keyboard joined by Jonas Creason and Dakota Kaylor on bass and drums who rock the house.
Celebrating 10 years in their Artspace, Creative Cauldron has reprised this winner that’s got all the right moves, verve and appeal to the max. And lots of thunder.
Thunder Knocking on the Door Written by Keith Glover . Music and Lyrics by Keb’ Mo’ and Anderson Edwards . Featuring Kelli Blackwell, Bryan Jeffrey, Shayla Simmons, Clifton Walker III, Greg Watkins . Co-Directors– Matt Conner and Stephen Gregory Smith . Music Director: Elisa Rosman . Scenic /Costume/Puppet Design: Margie Jervis . Lighting: James Morrison . Stage Manager and Light Board Operator: Jessica Lucey . Musicians—Elisa Rosman, Rick Peralta, Chip Carvell, Jonas Creason, Dakota Kaylor . Produced by Creative Cauldron . Reviewed by Debbie Minter Jackson.