THEATER REVIEW: “Ya Mama!” @ Cleveland Public Theatre by Mansfield Frazier


Through Sat 10/27

If you want to see a thespian and senneachie (that’s a professional storyteller of family genealogy, history and legend) at the absolute top of her craft, go see Nina Domingue’s one-woman show Ya Mama!, currently running at the Cleveland Public Theatre. Her performance is nothing short of amazing — truly masterful.

It’s been said that every life story is worthy of a book, and while some folks have the requisite skills to put their personal journey on paper, few have the talent, training, discipline and courage to bare their soul on stage, alone. Domingue does so with a verve, aplomb and level of professionalism and confidence that few performers possess.

Ya Mama! is the autobiographical story of a young Afro-Creole girl who loses her mother at age four via suicide due to a severe form of postpartum depression, gains a wicked stepmother, and eventually becomes a mother herself, of five offspring, all while striving to become a consummate artist.

Born in the lower ninth ward of New Orleans, and shuttled between relatives (some here in Cleveland) for a time, Nina managed to graduate from Dillard University with a bachelor of arts in Theater Arts and went on to obtain a master of fine arts in acting from West Virginia University. Who knew there was anything “fine” in West Virginia? (Yeah, I know that’s a low blow, but I’m leaving it in anyway.)

Do you have any idea how difficult it is to be on stage, alone, for an uninterrupted 75 minutes, playing multiple characters (including children), moving about the space in dramatic fashion (she really is an excellent dancer), and never losing contact with the theatergoers for one second? It’s a feat few actors have the courage to attempt to pull off, and fewer still have the ability to do so in such a magnificent manner.

Go see a master of her craft at work.

Ya Mama! is onstage at Cleveland public Theatre through Sat 10/27.

Cleveland Public Theatre

[Written by Mansfield Frazier]


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