On the Levee OFF-BROADWAY REVIEWS

  • NY TIMES

  • NY POST

  • BACKSTAGE

  • TM

  • TIME OUT

Opening Night:
June 28, 2010
Closing:
July 10, 2010

Theater: Duke on 42nd Street / 229 West 42nd Street, New York, NY, 10036

Synopsis: 

Based on a true story, On the Levee is a play with music that revisits the Greenville, Mississippi flood of 1927, the worst in U.S. history before Hurricane Katrina. At the heart of the story are two fathers (a white cotton farmer and an African-American bootblack) and their sons.

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  • NEW YORK TIMES REVIEW OF On the Levee

    Sandbagging in the Shadow of the Mississippi

    Charles Isherwood

    June 29, 2010: An environmental calamity cannot be easy to wrangle onto the stage. It seems unlikely that the ghastly disgorgement of oil in the Gulf of Mexico will ever inspire a Broadway musical. (Let us hope not, at least.) Still, the new play “On the Levee,” which opened on Monday night at the Duke on 42nd Street as part of Lincoln Center Theater’s LCT3 series, manages to manufacture so little compelling drama from a historic natural disaster that neither the ecological scope nor the human cost comes through with much force or clarity.

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  • NEW YORK POST REVIEW OF On the Levee

    Tale of rising river gets diluted

    Elisabeth Vincentelli

    June 29, 2010: LCT3 may be the newest and most intimate unit of Lincoln Center Theater, but its shows certainly don't think small. "On the Levee," which opened last night, tackles no less than race, class and father-son relationships against a quasi-mythical backdrop: the great Mississippi flood of 1927.

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  • BACKSTAGE REVIEW OF On the Levee

    On the Levee

    David Sheward

    June 29, 2010: Like the object of its title, "On the Levee" attempts to contain an ocean of ideas, characters, and plots, but the foundation is too weak, and the audience winds up getting soaked. Based on the actual 1927 flood of Greenville, Miss., the play incorporates too many divergent stories, resulting in a waterlogged soap opera. The shattering events of that natural disaster—the greatest to strike America before Katrina—are enough to create a harrowing drama. After the town's levees gave way, thousands of African Americans were stranded, while a handful of white women and children were ferried away. The black citizens were thought too valuable a source of cheap labor by the town's powerful to be allowed to leave. Many historians credit the flood as a main cause of the black migration from the rural South to the industrial North, where there was less discrimination and better-paying jobs. With the plethora of hardships hitting the region in contemporary times—both man-made and natural—this could have been a powerful comment on authority that has failed those in need.

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  • THEATERMANIA REVIEW OF On the Levee

    On the Levee

    David Finkle

    June 29, 2010: Eighty-three years before Hurricane Katrina washed away much of New Orleans -- where reparations are yet incomplete -- the 1927 flood in Mississippi and Louisiana caused destruction so devastating it hastened the rise of Governor Huey Long and the election of President Herbert Hoover on restoration promises that were never kept.

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  • TIME OUT NEW YORK REVIEW OF On the Levee

    The Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 returns in song and multimedia spectacle

    David Cote

    June 29, 2010: Lincoln Center Theater’s new offering under its LCT3 program is a “play with music” about an infamous disaster in the South which involved torrential rains, breached levees and thousands of African-Americans betrayed by white officials. Have no fear, it’s not Katrina! The Musical. Rather, On the Levee is a multimedia retelling of the Great Mississippi Flood of 1927—specifically, what happened in Greenville, Mississippi. On April 22 of that year, 13,000 African-American residents were left stranded on the town levee as rescue boats ferried 33 white women and children to safety. Greenville’s black residents were left to hold back the waters, effectively turning the area into a forced labor camp created by white planters unwilling to lose local workers.

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