Photo by Diane Cox
The cast of Undeniably Blue poses for a photo during rehearsal. The play features Debra Riddlespriger as Mrs. Edwards, LaFondria “Toni” Booth as Susanne “Sassy,” Sade VanZandt as Cheryl (not pictured), Jared Hennings as Silas, Alecia Lane Meeks as Madeline, Courteney Wilson as Ellis and Angelica Jones as little “Cheeky.”
Local writer and playwright Leah Becoat heals the heart with her new creation, “Undeniably Blue.”
The play will be performed in the Alton High School auditorium at 7 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 6, and 3 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 7.
Becoats’ production is only the second time a private company has performed at the public school.
“Undeniably Blue” is the story of Cheryl, played by Sade VanZandt, a middle-age, middle-class woman whose husband was killed in action overseas. Cheryl faces the challenge of overcoming her grief and getting through her loss ... and ultimately allowing herself to find happiness and perhaps even a new romantic interest.
“Each character in the show has a small piece of me in there,” said Becoat, who wrote the play. “Each personality on stage shows who I have been, who I am now, and in some cases a character has an attribute that I wish I had.”
Becoat got her inspiration to share her stories through her own pain and grief growing up with a skin condition that caused her skin to scar. She says she found courage, self-respect, and confidence through her writing, and her plays have brought a happiness and fulfillment to her life and brought her dreams into reality.
“We love Leah’s writing and her vision is amazing,” said Debra Riddlespriger, who plays Mrs. Edwards. “She has a way of telling a story that can touch a person’s soul and brings a sense of purpose to her audience.”
“Undeniably Blue” is about the sorrow of loss, and shows how laughter and love of friends and companions can bring healing to a “blue heart.” Becoat says she wrote the story to appeal to a broad audience because most people have had to deal with a loss of some point in their lives.
“I want my writing to reach out to everyone — young, old, black, white, and all of those in between,” she said. “I am not just a female writer or an African-American writer; I am a human being and want my work to reach out to everyone and everyone can relate to it.”
Becoat met her cast through previous performances, the church she attends, the Alton Little Theater, and through friends in theater. Parts of the play are set in a park or playground setting, with the backdrop painted by Ahsitrah Designs of St. Louis. Today’s Beauty Supply on Central Avenue in Alton has provided a rehearsal space for the cast of “Undeniably Blue” in their community room.
3 Purple Coats is producing “Undeniably Blue” and will be making donations to the Crisis Food Center and Grassroots Grocery from proceeds of the show.
Tickets can be purchased at the door, and the auditorium opens 30 minutes before the curtain goes up. Tickets are $15 for adults and $8 for students 17 and under.
For more information, call (618) 670-2395 or email email@example.com.