WEPG Closes Season With Brutal, Twisty “Cardboard Piano”

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Jazmine Wade and Frankie Ferrari pledge themselves to each other in the West End Players Guild production of “Cardboard Piano.”

With two acts set 15 years apart, “Cardboard Piano” has a lot to say in the season finale at West End Players Guild. From a church in Uganda in 1999 to the same setting in 2014, a lot more than just the church has changed and a few unexpected plot twists enhance this tender story that mixes love and war in a most unforgiving way.

With a war going on outside, two young women meet secretly to celebrate their wedding on New Years Eve of 1999 at a small church in Uganda. Frankie Ferrari is Chris and, although unofficial (even inside a church), she promises herself to her friend, Adiel (Jazmine Wade). Adeil’s parents operate the church and, of course, their forbidden love can’t happen any other way. They are interrupted by Pika, played by Darrious Varner, a soldier who is trying to escape another determined soldier played by Reginald Pierre.

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Jazmine Wade and Frankie Ferrari tend to a wounded soldier, played by Darrious Varner in “Cardboard Piano” at WEPG.

The cast is outstanding even if the Hansol Jung play has a first act that drags a bit due to repetition. But the closing moments are horrific and bring the outside war stunningly into the church. It’s a payoff that transitions into the future in the second act with a plot twist the audience never sees coming.

In that second act, the same players take on different roles except for Ms. Ferrari who plays her same character, Chris. Jazmine Wade becomes Ruth, wife of the pastor of the newly renovated church, Paul, played by Mr. Pierre. He and Mr. Varner, who is now a friend of the church, Francis, become pivotal parts in the plot twists  building on the original story.

Linda Kennedy shines as director of “Cardboard Piano” with her strong touch mixing the fragile elements of the story in with pathos and passion. She leads the characters and the audience into a world we’re not familiar with but we soon relate to due to the brilliant direction handled by an equally competent cast.

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Darrious Varner, Jazmine Wade and Frankie Ferrari in WEPG’s “Cardboard Piano.”

The simple but effective set and lighting design by Renee Sevier-Monsey add to the bare bones feel of the little church and Tracy Newcomb’s costumes add just the right elements. “Cardboard Piano” runs at WEPG through April 15th. Give them a call at 314-667-5686 for tickets or more information.

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