Shakin’ the Mess Outta Misery Review -It Takes a Village

The cast of Shakin’ the-Mess Outta Misery
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The Pegasus Theatre Chicago presents Shakin’ the Mess Outta Misery at Chicago Dramatists, located at 773 North Aberdeen in Chicago. The show runs through December 10, 2017.


The Pegasus Theatre Chicago opened with the first production of their 2017-2018 “Legacies” series with Shakin’ the Mess Outta Misery, written by Shay Youngblood and directed by Ilesa Duncan.

Melanie Loren as Daughter

It’s often said that it takes a village to raise a child. For Daughter, the central character in the play, the villagers consisted of a group of strong and independent African-American women. Big Mama, Aunt Mae, Miss Lamama, Miss Corrine, Miss Tom, and Miss Mary leave Daughter with precious memorable nuggets from their past.


This emotionally charged story takes place in the South during the 1960’s. Shakin’ the Mess Outta Misery is the story of Daughter (Melanie Loren), a young woman who returns to the South to bury the last of her “Big Mama’s”. The story opens with 25-year-old Daughter, entering the home where she grew up. She begins to reminisce about the women who were instrumental during the most pivotal time of her life. The story revolved around 12-year-old Daughter as she prepares for her “First Blood” and upcoming baptismal.

Debrah neal (Miss Corrine), Stacie Doublin (Aunt Mae) and Sandra Watson (Miss Tom)

The story reveals that Daughter was left behind to stay with Big Mama after her mother runs off to New York and later dies. There are times when I feel that pieces of the puzzle are missing in the storyline, however, the acting and soul-stirring gospel music made up for the lack of storyline.

Melanie Loren (Daughter) and Felisha ‘Ekudayo’ McNeal (Big Mama)

Director Ilesa Duncan does a remarkable job considering the small stage; which is brought to light with minimal staging. The fluid-like transition of the actors on stage makes the story seamless.

Melanie Loren (Daughter) and Takesha Meshé Kizart (Miss Maggie)

The entire cast does a wonderful job of bringing the characters to life. Melanie Loren (Daughter) does an excellent job navigating the audience. Her performance was believable and her singing was beautiful. I also enjoyed the performances of Debrah Neal (Miss Corinne) and the powerhouse vocals of Toni Lynice Fountain (Miss Lamama).

Darian Tene (DeeDee) and Melanie Loren (Daughter)

I recommend the production of Shakin’ The Mess Outta Misery. The acting is good, the music is great and the energy is amazing. The show is now playing until December 10, 2017. Tickets can be purchased at: PegasusTheatreChicago website or by calling 866-811-4111.


Photos by Emily Schwartz




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