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Mother Emanuel (FringeNYC)

From 7 critic and 15 member reviews
Members say: Great singing, Absorbing, Entertaining, Resonant, Thought-provoking

About the show

A FringeNYC Encore: Rebel Theater Company presents a new musical that celebrates the lives of the late Charleston 9. More…

'Mother Emanuel' is inspired by the lives of the Charleston 9, and the events that transpired at Emanuel AME Church on June 17, 2015, where they were murdered during their Bible Study group. The show is told through testimony, memory, and song. Conceived, choreographed, and directed by Rajendra Ramoon Maharaj.


for a previous production "Since others have already showered praise on the merits of this gospel musical, yours truly can only add that it really does deserve all the superlatives given it…Yes, this is a documentary musical play at its best. While it does take creative license, it beautifully captures the spirit of those who happened to be in the right place at the wrong time...No, one doesn't have to be a holy-roller to enjoy the show. But one may well be reborn to the wonder of theater during this 90-minute event." Full Review

Time Out New York

for a previous production "A powerful piece…'Mother Emanuel' honors their memories by bringing them to life...The sterling ensemble includes the comical Branch and the charismatic Marquis D. Gibson; Lauren Shaye provides dynamic character acting, and Nicole Stacie has vocal cords of steel. Though appropriately weighty, the play doesn’t forget to entertain, and the audience is even encouraged to join the cast in song. Such moments of joy make the tragedy even harder to accept." Full Review

New York Theater

for a previous production “An earnest, lively play filled with rousing music…It is a sad story but it’s told in a deeply entertaining way, with the four supremely talented members of the cast singing some dozen gospel songs well enough to explain why so many people still get up on Sunday mornings…That ‘Mother Emanuel’ could hold its own in a festival known for campy hits with silly titles is a testament not just to the power of the show, but to the growing maturity of the New York International Fringe Festival.” Full Review

The New York Times

for a previous production "A gorgeous, rafter-raising gospel musical, 'Mother Emanuel' sounds as if it would be depressing at best, inspired as it is by the shooting that killed nine people last year at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church. Instead, it’s a defiantly vibrant celebration of the lives of those who died, and an excellent piece of documentary theater. Stumbling across a treasure like that is one of the joys of Fringe-going...In a terrific cast of four, Branch and Stacie stand out." Full Review


for a previous production "A rousing and thoughtful docudrama…A finely written script and excellent presentation…What could have been a heavy-handed and grim dramatization is here a joyous celebration of lives senselessly lost. The show’s creators have found the right balance of solemnity, entertainment and information…'Mother Emanuel' theatrically succeeds at recounting this tragedy with its superior performances and inspired production." Full Review

Theatre Reviews Limited

for a previous production "The audience easily connects to these stories through the significant craft of the cast who play not only the lives of the massacred but also the lives those individuals touched and the lives of those who were left behind. These 'testimonials' are powerful and life changing. Under Rajendra Ramoon Maharaj’s meticulous direction, Christian Lee Branch, Marquis Gibson, Lauren Shaye, and Nicole Stacie act, sing, and dance their ways into the hearts of the audience." Full Review

Theatre is Easy

for a previous production "This is not a purely mournful performance. This play exposes the pure joy, humor, and sorrow of not only each character, but of the performers themselves. This is documentary theatre at its finest. Watching the actors morph seamlessly between the Charleston Nine and others is supremely satisfying. The actors perform comedic and dramatic scenes with dexterity, providing an emotional roller coaster for the audience...Overall, 'Mother Emanuel' is a fantastic play " Full Review

Absorbing, Entertaining, Great acting, Great singing, Resonant

See it if you like a story about an actual tragedy told with pathos, humor & gospel music and high energy performances where actors play several roles

Don't see it if you're a member of the NRA (gun violence discussed) or if you don't want a show with a spiritual side (but you would miss great gospel music

Entertaining, Relevant, Thought-provoking, Riveting, Great singing

See it if you are looking for a moving night at the theatre, with comedic moments, and rousing gospel numbers.

Don't see it if a show about the eventual murder of 9 innocent people is too emotional for you.

Absorbing, Profound, Resonant, Relevant, Thought-provoking

See it if you enjoy gospel music, based-on true-story plots, simple but deeply touching performances. We got more than we bargained for, & then some.

Don't see it if you can't handle religion-based shows. Beautifully and respectfully conceived, based on the 9 lives murdered @ Mother Emanuel on June 2015.

Delightful, Great singing, Great acting, Intense, Resonant

See it if you like *great* acting, *great* singing, totally moving performances and some background on those killed in this shooting, or love gospel

Don't see it if you want a narrative to your theater, this show is more about moments and joyful full length gospel performances

Thought-provoking, Relevant, Great singing

See it if you would like to participate in a celebration of the lives of the nine people who were gunned down in a Charleston church in 2015.

Don't see it if you are looking for anything other than the opportunity to participate in a memorial service.

Great staging, Resonant, Riveting, Great singing

See it if You want to see sorrow and joy inextricably infused in a show of gospel music and celebration

Don't see it if You're too cool to weep at the Fringe

Absorbing, Entertaining, Relevant, Resonant, Great singing

See it if Enjoy gospel music and want a deeper understanding of the massacre at Mother Emanuel Church.

Don't see it if You hate gospel music.

Absorbing, Exquisite, Masterful, Must see, Great singing

See it if You seek deep meaningful relevant theater with masterful performers.

Don't see it if You hate social theater with a cause or if you dislike docu-theater.

Resonant, Absorbing, Must see, Exciting, Breathtaking

See it if You love to go to church!! You love history You love black culture

Don't see it if You don't like to have fun You're not interested in history

Absorbing, Entertaining, Great acting, Riveting, Great singing

See it if You love shows that are inspired, moving, funny and topical

Don't see it if You don't want to be awake to current events

Absorbing, Thought-provoking, Profound, Must see, Great singing

See it if You have a spiritual or humanist bone in your body ... or at least a conscience.

Don't see it if You have a closed mind and have lost the key to open it.

Absorbing, Great acting, Great writing, Thought-provoking, Great singing

See it if You want to see pure talent, on stage and behind the scene

Don't see it if You want to miss a show that is really important

Absorbing, Entertaining, Funny, Moving

See it if Interested in a moving, entertaining play with extraordinary singing, and engaging actors who transformed into multiple characters perfectly

Don't see it if Not interested in hearing good singing and being engaged with the show

Absorbing, Delightful, Exquisite, Funny

See it if you would like a high energy experience

Don't see it if you are susceptible to triggers around gun violence

Entertaining, Great acting, Relevant, Thought-provoking, Great singing

See it if If you want to see great acting and singing this is a must see. Tells a disturbing story with both humor and dignity.

Don't see it if Deals with polarizing issue of gun violence in our country. Can be a little preachy (it's set in church!) at the end. Not for NRA'ers.

Cast & Creatives (11)