Tuesday, November 27, 2018

There's a Balm on Broad Street

Monsignor O'Hara (Michael Hawke) wasn't the only one unfamiliar with the meaning of 'balm of Gilead.'

A quick visit to google and I found the origin - referred to in the Old Testament, in Gilead there was a tree that produced a balm with healing powers. In the New Testament, Jesus is the balm for salvation.

The first known African-American spiritual  to include reference is "The Sinner's Cure" an 1854 hymn attributed to Washington Glass:
There is a balm in Gilead; to make the wounded whole; there's power enough in heaven; to cure a sin-sick soul.
Well there's a balm on Broad Street.

For just over two hours you can escape from today's troubled word, and delight in Virginia Rep's Sister Act. A balm indeed. Laughter, comedic capers, a kick-ass group of nuns, and a message about unlikely friendships, and having your sisters' back, Sister Act was a delight from start to finish.

Felicia Curry electrifies as Deloris Van Cartier -  (the character originally brought to life by Whoopi Goldberg in the movie of the same name) who is on the run and in hiding as Sister Mary Clarence in a Philadelphia convent. Andrea Rivette portrays Mother Superior to perfection.  And newcomer Sincee J. Daniels thrills as the show's villain, Curtis.

Michael Hawke gives a strong, endearing performance as the Monsignor desperate to keep the convent from being sold to 'two bachelors who deal in antiques.' I giggled out loud when Monsignor jumps up and down in his voluminous vestments, and yells "goodie!"

You can't help but cheer for the sincere, utterly lovable Eddie (Durron Marquis Tyre) a Philadelphia cop assigned to protect Deloris - who has harbored a not-so-secret crush on Deloris (plain old Doris Carter) since high school.

There wasn't a secondary character in the cast that didn't put in a top-notch performance; a true stellar ensemble performance. Curtis's sidekicks Joey (Paul S. Major), Pablo (Mark Parello, Jr.), and TJ (Anthony Cosby) deliver some of the show's funniest moments as they try to track down Van Cartier who witnessed Curtis - her married lover - murder an informant.

Major's writhing on the ground as he imagines himself seducing the nuns at Queen of Angels Convent is priceless in the funniest musical moment - when the sidekicks sing Lady in the Long Black Dress.

Though all the nuns were hilarious with exceptional voices, two in particular stood out. Kelsey Cordrey lit the stage up with her warm, funny, and enthusiastic portrayal of Sister Mary Patrick.

And Gwynne Wood, in her first job since graduating from the Boston Conservatory, is infectious in her role as Sister Mary Robert,  a young postulate who delivers my favorite musical moment - belting out The Life I Never Led. What a voice!

Bravo to Robin Arthur for great direction and choreography. The live orchestra under the direction of Anthony Smith is top notch. Costumes, scenes, lights, sound . . . it all added up to just the balm for the soul-sickness that often accompanies the holiday season.

Sometimes the best theatre isn't overly dramatic or tense. It isn't so deep you need a degree in philosophy to understand it. Sometimes it is the heartfelt, stellar performances of a bunch of exceptional talent having a heck of a lot of fun, with a script that is heartwarming and uplifting.

Sister Act is just such a show. The audience was on their feet at the end of the performance. Theatre audiences in Richmond have on occasion been overly generous with standing ovations. This one was well-earned.

Sister Act  continues at Virginia Rep's November Theatre Marjorie Arenstein Stage through January 6, 2019. For tickets visit: http://www.tickets.va-rep.org.

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Cosmic Appointments With Foregiveness

In Letters from the J Underground: Shared experiences with the principles of A COURSE IN MIRACLES we watch author Ruth Perkinson unzip.

In language gorgeous and raw, Perkinson exposes personal traumas and fears, reveals in soul-wrenching detail her struggle and victory over alcoholism and mental illness, and gifts us with the joy, spiritual transformation, and the many cosmic appointments with forgiveness she's experienced since going blind but gaining her sight.

"J" is Jesus and A Course in Miracles (ACIM) is the international phenomenon published by the Foundation for Inner Peace in 1976 after Columbia University psychology professor Helen Schucman channeled the voice of Jesus over a period of seven years - word for word. ACIM has provided a path to spiritual transformation for millions across the world, and gained its largest growth in popularity after Marianne Williamson discussed the course on Oprah in 1992.

Essential to understanding ACIM and Letters from the J Underground is, Perkinson writes:

"J teaches us that the key to everything is true forgiveness and the idea of a shared love. He teaches us that a universal theology is not necessary but a universal shared experience of love and forgiveness is to gain access to going home: Heaven and staying there and not returning any longer to a world of confusion and despair."

For Perkinson, this world provides many cosmic appointments with forgiveness. When I first met her, Perkinson led a gathering of writers - Featherstone Writers - who met weekly to discuss the craft of writing, receive feedback, and to share "writerly news" - articles, essays, and other tidbits specific to writing. There are a number of writers in town who came to believe they were real writers through Perkinson's loving attention. 

So, the ultimate cosmic appointment with forgiveness came when this one-time high school English teacher, published author of fiction and non-fiction, and editor who relied on her sight for her livelihood, started to go blind. Yes, she was angry and afraid. You can read about it in J Underground, but ultimately she chose forgiveness. "The peace of God is inside all of us. When we forgive, we tap into that altar of light He placed there."

In J Underground, Perkinson takes special care to note that "the Course is only a self-study book. It is not meant to become any kind of religion at all." It is about two competing thought systems which either reflect love or fear. And "only love is real." Spend any time in Perkinson's presence and you just know you are in the presence of someone who practices forgiveness. Says Perkinson, "When I encounter a cosmic appointment with a forgiveness opportunity - as we are never at a shortage for those in this classroom of a world - I remind myself to turn it over to the Holy Spirit. It takes willingness."

Not only is Perkinson willing to forgive small transgressions - the irate woman who cursed her in traffic as Perkinson was realizing she needed to give up driving - but the big transgressions as well - years of overmedication for mental illness, tremendous battles with alcohol and drug abuse, attempts at suicide . . . GOING BLIND.

Letters from the J Underground is revelatory; exposing the heart and soul of a woman who should have every reason to be bitter and angry yet brings light and joy instead. Long out of the gay closet - she came out as Lesbian years ago - in J Underground, Perkinson comes out of the most personal, perhaps riskiest closet of all - the Reincarnation Closet. But Perkinson has nothing to lose by revealing her past selves. She's absolutely fine with who she is. A child of the Holy Spirit.

Whether you are skeptical or not, Letters from the J Underground is a gift from Perkinson to the reader. In a world that seems rife with hatred and hostility, murder and mayhem, famine, disease, crimes against humanity - and the list goes on - Letters from the J Underground offers an altar of light.

To purchase Letters from the J Underground visit: https://tinyurl.com/ycoxjszm

Friday, November 23, 2018

What's On My Nightstand

Pema Chodron - Awakening Loving Kindness

Djuna Barnes - Nightwood

Michelle Tea - Modern Tarot

Confessions - St. Augustine

Drawing Down the Moon: Witches, Druids, Goddess-Worshippers and Other Pagans in America - Margot Adler

The Uses of Enchantment: the Meaning and Importance of Fairy Tales - Bruno Bettleheim

The Complete Stories - Flannery O'Connor

Preparation for the Next Life - Atticus Lish

Untie the Strong Woman - Clarissa Pinkola Estes, Ph.D.
Dark Debts - Karen Hall

Monday, November 19, 2018


Disclaimer: The opinions expressed herein are solely mine. Just in case, you know, there are any readers out there who are catching the national disease of not being able to distinguish facts from opinions. 

Photo Credit: John MacLellan

There is trouble in Who-Ville.
The grinch is back in town.
You'll see. 

Julie Harthill Clayton Turner isn't with GayRVA anymore.
She's now InkQueery.
Much as she loves to laugh, and thinks the world's WAY too P.C.,
Lombardo's equally-offensive-to-all script,
Isn't that funny.

I'll leave the rhyming to the poets. Before I sound too much like Scrooge, let me say that I'm all for some good adult humor. I don't mind crass, tasteless, insensitive, overly sexual, irreverent humor.  But Playwright Matthew Lombardo admittedly touched a nerve with me using the word "cunt."  I had a hard time setting that aside and not seeing the rest as overly gratuitous and just not that funny.

Call me a queer liberal snowflake.

Words matter. And that particular word has been directed at me one too many times. It's more than just a word. I'm not ready to reclaim it.

My problem was solely with the script.

But even Lombardo prevailed in the legal battle with Dr. Seuss's estate who alleged copyright infringement.

And rightly so. I may not like his words. But I LOVE our freedoms.

I urge you to go see Who's Holiday at Richmond Triangle Players and form your own opinion.

Kimberly Jones Clark's performance as the grownup Cindy Lou Who struggling with alcohol addiction, and longing to reconnect with her idyllic childhood was comic genius, and is worth the price of admission alone.

Clark's one-woman show was a master class in timing and physicality.

Stick around afterwards for a special cabaret of off-beat Christmas carols performed by Joshua Wortham (piano and vocals) and Georgia Rogers Farmer and/or Shannon Gibson Brown (vocals) that's great fun. I saw Georgia, and she never disappoints.

Directed by Dexter Ramey, Who's Holiday: The Story Dr. Seuss Didn't Want You to See runs through December 15, 2018 at Richmond Triangle Players.
For tickets visit:  https://rtriangle.secure.force.com/ticket

Friday, November 16, 2018


After a lengthy gestational period - closer to that of an elephant than a human - I'm back and ready to reveal: IT'S A . . . 

I took a break from theatre and book reviews to focus on my own writing. That time away has resulted in A Date With the Fairy Drag Queen, my work-in-progress. And at the 2018 James River Writing Conference (October 12-14, 2018), I won the Agent Dating Game. And she wants to see my manuscript in her inbox by December 31, 2018!

AND A . . . 


FULL TIME WRITER and CEO/Co-owner of Better Beta Readers (w/ Rishonda Anthony). Better Beta Readers will  offer manuscript review services from beta reading to full content edits, and special services such as 1st chapter reviews (www.betterbetareaders.com - COMING SOON).

AND A . . .


INKQUEERY- One *BI girl's opinion on all things literary, theatrical, cultural, and what my inkqueerying mind happens to comment on (*representation matters).

  • You'll see me back in the theatre and can find my reviews on www.inkqueery.com. 

  • Have a book you'd like me to review? Contact me at julie.turner@inkqueery.com

Bi for now