The struggles of a Memphis family, according to playwright Edward Miller

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“Make it So” by Edward Miller is a lively tale of humor and intimacy set in Memphis, TN. Lester Morgan, the eldest sibling in an estranged middle-class Black family, struggles to reunite his brothers and sisters in time for their father’s funeral. Hisobstacle is the family matriarch, Bertha, whose vindictive and controlling behavior stifles any hope for relationships among her children. Directed by Sharon Fogarty, the play will be presented by Making Light and Little Rascals Productions at Theater for the New City, 155 First Avenue, Manhattan, from June 19 to July 13.

The siblings of the fictional Morgan family have ventured out to create as much distance from their past as possible. Lester has buried himself in a middle management job in New York. Tony has found his niche as a drag queen. Justin would be a pimp if his gambling were more successful. Their isolated younger sister, Charlotte, is too distracted by family memories to create a life of her own. In this two-act family drama, relationships born of jealousy and repression evolve into those of clemency and intimacy. The climactic scene depicts the matriarch, Bertha, in a rare moment of vulnerability where she finally reveals her mysterious need for keeping the family in a state of discord.

The cast of Make it So, Adam R. Deremer, Beverly Bonner, Leonard Dozier, Brian Karim, Georgia Southern and Milan Conner.
The cast of Make it So. Clockwise from top: Adam R. Deremer, Beverly Bonner, Leonard Dozier (as the eldest son), Brian Karim, Georgia Southern and Milan Conner.

Playwright Edward Miller is a canny observer of Southern Living. He based “Make it So” upon his own upbringing in Memphis, TN. He was the nephew of several larger-than-life aunts who collectively inspired the character of Bertha and whose households are reflected in the clan of this play. Miller finds the mayhem behind the happiest of families to be delightfully provocative, a phenomenon he describes as “universally Southern.” He grew up among polite, churchgoing people who always attempted to forge strong bonds and hid dysfunction in their families. So Miller’s colorful characters wear their religiosity on their sleeves but forget it in private. “Certain tenets of the Bible get lost with them,” he chuckles, “like Christian charity, forgiveness and not coveting your neighbor’s spouse.”

Miller has deep roots in Memphis. He has had two original pieces performed at Theatre Memphis: “Right On Target” and “No Sale.” He attended the University of Tennessee at Memphis with a concentration on music education and performance and also studied at the University of the South Music Festival at Sewanee (TN), Columbus State University Arts Program (Columbus, GA), and at the Tanglewood Summer Music Festival (MA). Miller’s most recent New York production was the 2005 premiere of “Revolution Row” at the Michael Weller Theatre. His “What A Difference A Year Makes” had readings at the Naked Angels Reading Series and The Retreat at the Brecht Forum. He is author of the nonfiction “Matters Most Questionable” (Ardent Press) and the upcoming memoir “Shrug.”

Playwright Edward Miller.
Playwright Edward Miller.

As an actor, he has appeared regionally in “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead,” “The Wiz,” “The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told,” “Pageant” and “A Christmas Carol.” In New York, Mr. Miller performed in “Blurred Visions” at the Duplex, “Ravaged by Romance” at La MaMa and “Crossover” at the Jan Hus Playhouse.

The cast includes Althea Alexis, Beverly Bonner, Adam R. Deremer, Leonard Dozier, Brian Karim, Milan Conner, Georgia Southern and Kelly Jo Reid. Set is by Mark Marcante; lighting is by Alexander Bartenieff.

Director Sharon Fogarty reading.
Director Sharon Fogarty.

Director Sharon Fogarty has staged 76 productions in the U.S., UK and Canada. She staged the 2004 Best Comedy at Edinburgh, “How to be a Groom,” Village Voice’s Best Gay Heavy Metal Band Performance, “Pink Steel” and was nominated best director and winner of best design for “Sep-ul-kur” at Spotlight On Festival. She is a touring member of the 2008 MAC award winning Chicago City Limits and author of 36 plays including “Witch Christmas,” “Portrait of the Artist as a Dumb Blonde,” “The Devil of Delancey Street,” “Where Sleeping Gods Lie,” “The Overdevelopment of Scott” and the recently published “Bride of Frankenstein – an Experiment in Intimacy.” Fogarty was recently entered into the Manhattan Theatre Source Hall of Fame and awarded Person of the Year by NYTheatre.com for contributions in the production and performance of live theater.

Performances are June 19 to July 13, 2008 at Theater for the New City located at 155 First Avenue (between 9th and 10th Streets) in Manhattan. Show times are Thursdays through Saturdays at 8:00 PM and Sundays at 3:00 PM. The event is presented by Making Light and Little Rascals Productions. Tickets are $18.00. Ticketing is available online at www.theatermania.com and by phone through Theatermania 212 352 3101. Further information is at www.sharonfogarty.com/makeitso.cfm (show’s website).

Jonathan Slaff is a New York publicist in the specialty of international cultural events. Jonathan and his writers keep us ahead of the curve in the world of the arts and culture.