December 5, 2020

‘Fly’ takes off at the Loretto-Hilton

Photos By: David Broome 

Reporting By: Rebecca Doran

If the myth is correct that a complicated dress rehearsal will mean a knockout opening night, then “Fly,” performed by the St. Louis Repertory Theatre, will be a hit. At a highly emotional point in the play, the fire alarm went off and every one had to evacuate. In spite of the disruption, the actors picked up without missing a beat.

Written by Trey Ellis and Ricardo Khan, “Fly” is a play about the Tuskegee Airmen and the brotherhood they found with each other.

The Tuskegee Airmen were the first African-American airmen in the U.S. military. They fought in World War II and the troop originally consisted of five men. The Tuskegee Airmen paved the way for other African-Americans to enlist in the military and rise through the ranks.

“Fly” focuses on three of the airmen: Chet Simpkins, W.W. and Oscar.

The play opens up with Omar Edwards as The Tap Griot, tapping his way up the stage. Edwards’ tapping feet set the tone and keep the tempo throughout the play.

A griot is a storyteller who uses music and entertainment to relay a story. Edwards’ character personifies the inner struggles of the other characters in his tapping and movements.

The play follows the airmen and the struggles they have with each other and with society accepting them as men instead of as second-class citizens.

Within the emotion, “Fly” has its light moments and humorous bits. At the end, the actors and technicians paid homage to the real Tuskegee Airmen.

“Fly” opens at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 16, at the Loretto-Hilton Center and runs through Sunday, Nov. 10, with matinee and weeknight performances. Tickets are on sale at The Repertory’s website or at the box office.

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