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Theater Info for the Washington DC region

Hard Bargain Players Jesus Hopped the “A” Train

By • Aug 18th, 2009 • Category: Reviews
Jesus Hopped the “A” Train by Stephen Adly Guirgis
Hard Bargain Players
Hard Bargain Amphitheatre, Acokeek, MD
$10/$8 Students and Seniors
Through August 22nd
Reviewed August 15th, 2009

Jesus Hopped the “A” Train performed by the Hard Bargain Players is a story about faith, religion and the human condition. The story opens with Angel Cruz, a recently incarcerated prisoner at Riker’s Island in New York. After shooting the leader of a cult, Angel does his best to justify his actions, making excuses and never quite admitting to what he has done. Throughout the show, Angel goes through a plight of self realization. His discoveries are profound, and at times hard to face. His encounters with others eventually shape his overall perspective of himself.

Performed outside at an amphitheatre, this piece was very well acted by the entire cast. Each character made a journey throughout the show, having to ask questions about themselves that they did not want to answer. I applaud them for being able to effectively perform despite the elements; insects, cars passing by, and other unlikely sounds you wouldn’t hear at a theatre indoors. There were only a few moments in the show in which it was difficult to hear what was being said on stage, but those moments never lasted very long. The show deals with some very engaging subjects that are further brought to life by this talented cast. So many questions are asked, you can’t help but get involved and form your own opinions and judgments about who’s right and who’s wrong.

Alex Lopez, who played Angel Cruz, gave a very convincing performance. Lopez played Angel strong, but vulnerable at the same time. At times when he was confused or weak, he was easily taken advantage of mentally and physically. Melissa Gilpin played Mary Jane Hanrahan, Angel’s lawyer who understands the corruption of the legal system, and knows how to work it. She finds a challenge in Angel whose journey to self righteousness is making it difficult for her to do her job. Gilpin effectively displayed Mary Jane’s frustration with not only dealing with Angel’s issues, but her own as well.

Jivon Lee Jackson played Lucius Jenkins, a likeable inmate who has an obsession with his relationship with God. Either because he truly wants to repent or because he is afraid of what judgment awaits him in the afterlife. His character talks a good deal and has an answer for everything, always finding ways to justify his actions. Lucius takes a journey, where in the beginning everyone loves him, but as his layers begin to unfold, you are not quite sure what to think of him. It’s a complex role to play that requires great understanding, beautifully played by Jackson.

Brian Donohue plays a sadistic cop named Valdez who thrives off of the pain he inflicts on others. Donohue has a very commanding and demanding voice that assisted him quite well in this role. Like many characters in this play, Valdez’s character is a symbol representing just another aspect of the playwright’s overall message. Smaller roles were performed by Randy Sena who played D’Amico, and Greg Rumpf who played the Guard.

The outdoor performance also made for a very interesting experience. Even though it was outside, there was still a sense of intimacy. Despite the endeavor of getting to its obscure location it was worth it in the end to be able to able to sit back, relax, grab some refreshments and enjoy the ambiance of the outdoor setting.

Lucius Jenkins (Jivon Lee Jackson) Mary Jane Hanrahan (Melissa Gilpin) & Angel Cruz (Alex Lopez)
Lucius Jenkins (Jivon Lee Jackson)
Mary Jane Hanrahan (Melissa Gilpin) & Angel Cruz (Alex Lopez)
Lucius Jenkins (Jivon Lee Jackson)
Lucius Jenkins (Jivon Lee Jackson)

Cast

  • Mary Jane Hanrahan: Melissa Gilpin
  • D’Amico: Randy Sena
  • Lucius Jenkins: Jivon Lee Jackson
  • Angel Cruz: Alex Lopez
  • Valdez: Brian Donohue
  • Guard: Greg Rumpf

Crew

  • Director: David M. Thomas
  • Assistant to the Director: Kevin Jiggetts
  • Line Coach: Liz Gilpin
  • Set Design: David M. Thomas
  • Set Decoration/Set Dressing: Cast
  • Properties: Cast
  • Light Design: April Weimer
  • Sound Design: Brian Donohue
  • Costume Design: Cast
  • Stage Combat Choreography: Brian Donohue
  • Master Carpenter: Randy Sena
  • Stage Crew: Greg Rumpf
  • Set Construction Crew: David M. Thomas, Melissa Gilpin
  • Set Painting Crew: David M. Thomas, Randy Sena, Melissa Gilpin
  • Light Operator: April Weimer
  • Sound Operator: Mr. Gilpin
  • House Manager: April Weimer
  • Publicity: David M. Thomas
  • Program Design and Printing: Kathy Mead
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is currently a student in the theatre arts program at Howard University pursuing a B.F.A in acting. Her plans are to go on to grad school to study Voice and Speech. Her credits include work on and off the stage, and she can be seen in the upcoming production of The Laramie Project with the Providence Players.

2 Responses »

  1. I can’t wait to see this! Everyone that I have talked to that has seen it says it is an AWESOME show. C’mon weekend!!

  2. It was very good, and it was my first time experiencing theatre at an outdoor amphitheatre