by Gerry Roe
Amana – In all fairness, I must admit that Gospel Music does not rate very high on my playlist, so the concept of a show featuring a male Gospel Quartet did not immediately appeal to me. However, Steeple People, now running at Old Creamery Theatre, was a thoroughly enjoyable experience. I urge you to see it for yourself.
The quartet consists of singing actors Sean Riley, Howard Meadows, Sean McCall, and Clark Skaggs, each possessed of a remarkable singing voice but together they manage to convince us that the quartet has been singing as a group for a long time. Effective as their singing is, they are singing actors, after all, and very skilled actors at that. Each member of the quartet has an opportunity to speak to the audience providing information about his experiences and revealing something about his personality. Speaking directly to the audience is not as easy as it sounds, but each man has mastered that skill, and each of them is extremely effective.
The quartet is accompanied by Lola, a woman who has only recently joined them. Her piano skills are completely adequate, but her personality is well presented by Katherine Anderson as bossy, abrasive, intrusive, and generally annoying—she is an accompanist who wants to be a star. Occasionally her manner brings her into conflict with one or another of the men in the quartet, especially Ira (Meadows) who seems more readily to see through Lola’s behavior to the aggressive ambition behind it.
As it should, the singing dominates the show. There isn’t much of a plotline, but the singing is quite enough to make up for it. Go see Steeple People if you can, whatever your musical preference. You’ll have a good time and, if gospel music is appealing, you will be inspired, even tempted to join in.
Steeple People runs through May 22. Tickets are available here.