With book by Nicholas David Brandt and music and lyrics by Laura Watkins, GLASS CEILINGS leads the way into March 2020 – Women’s History Month – when the contributions of women are celebrated. Directed and produced by Jessica Gardner, the entire creative team has carefully assembled a host of women across the centuries who refused to be stopped by the restrictive attitudes of their times towards women.
Beginning in the eighteenth century, GLASS CEILINGS celebrates Sybil Ludington (Charity Farrell), an adventurous 16-year-old American rebel sometimes called “the female Paul Revere” who called to arms the militiamen who subsequently routed a British army attack. On a less patriotic note, the eighteenth century also spawned Ching Shih (Jennifer Shun Bell), a prostitute on a floating brothel, who parlayed her marriage to a pirate captain into her own pirate fleet powerful enough to negotiate with the government to keep most of her loot and retire in luxury. Equally noteworthy in the eighteenth century was Anne Royall (Eileen Faxas) a woman who went from being a lowly servant to becoming a highly controversial journalist who wouldn’t take no for an answer – even sitting on President John Quincy Adams’ clothes while he was bathing in the Potomac so that he couldn’t refuse an interview. Another famous female name arose on the frontier in the same century. Despite a tough life and an early death, famed Native American Sacagawea (Randi De Marco) became an invaluable guide during the Lewis and Clark expedition. Without her help, US history may have been very different.
On to the nineteenth century, when Elizabeth Blackwell (Erin Stoddard) became the first woman to earn a medical degree in the U.S. Unable to secure hospital employment, she and her sister opened the New York Dispensary for Poor Women and Children, which focused on education and hygiene practices to prevent illness. The first free child in her family of emancipated slaves, Madam C.J. Walker (Matisha Baldwin) went on to found a major American company employing over 10,000 workers – and amass a fortune.
The twentieth century also produced some notable females, including Virne Beatrice “Jackie” Mitchell (Jaime Lyn Beatty), the teenaged baseball pitcher who struck out both Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig in one game – but was then blackballed from baseball, which was considered “too strenuous” for women. Sally Ride (Amanda Kruger), the first women in space, was also a child of the twentieth century.
The talented cast is rounded out by Leslie Rubino (Goddess), Carrie Madsen (Senator turned President), Wendy Rosoff (Jessica) – and two males holding up the distaff side (Luke Adams and Frankie Zabilka). Adding to the upbeat entertainment, each of the principals has a voice able to charm birds out of trees. Seventeen rousing songs punctuate the historic doings with lovely period costumes by Tanya Apuya and spectacular lighting by Chadd McMillan adding to the fun. Kelvin Hill’s guitar and Indigo Smith’s drums keep the rhythm jumping.
Besides being a thought-provoking treatise on the role of women in America over the past 300 years, GLASS CEILINGS is also compelling, fascinating, and enjoyable. An enthusiastic cast and a spot-on director keep things involving (with the occasional laugh thrown in for good measure).
GLASS CEILINGS runs through March 28, 2020, with performances at 8 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. The Rockwell Table and Stage is located at 1714 N. Vermont Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90027. Tickets range from $35 to $55 with a two food/drink minimum. For information and reservations, call 323-669-1550 or go online.