This Far By Faith | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

This Far By Faith 

THIS FAR BY FAITH, ETA Creative Arts Foundation. What started in 1997 as a simple play with music has now evolved into a full-blown musical. Of course, the story always leaned in that direction: an Afrocentric minister and his estranged pop-idol son reunite after facing duplicitous, power-hungry greedheads in their respective congregations. This latest incarnation of the work dispenses with many dramatic conventions, conveying the plot through song and dance as much as dialogue.

Fortunately this approach suits playwright Marylene Whitehead's comic-book heroes, who are nothing if not sharply defined. The issues she addresses are all the more immediate, and her allegorical characters all the more vivid, in this quick, slick treatment. Director Runako Jahi has assembled vocalists who give Rufus Hill's lightweight score enough warmth and sparkle to sell sunshine in Sarasota--especially Alex Everett as pop star Buddy Blue. Their performances are enhanced by a three-piece combo that provides running commentary on the action and fills the tiny ETA stage with sweet jazz riffs and philharmonic-size backbeats.

The cast is uniformly excellent, but look for show-stealing performances from Shirley Wahls as the sturdy clan matriarch, Rhonda Preston as the seductive Cayenne (whose "best clothes are made of asbestos"), and Anthony Wills Jr. as a struggling sinner with hidden gifts. --Mary Shen Barnidge

Support Independent Chicago Journalism: Join the Reader Revolution

We speak Chicago to Chicagoans, but we couldn’t do it without your help. Every dollar you give helps us continue to explore and report on the diverse happenings of our city. Our reporters scour Chicago in search of what’s new, what’s now, and what’s next. Stay connected to our city’s pulse by joining the Reader Revolution.

Are you in?

  Reader Revolutionary $35/month →  
  Rabble Rouser $25/month →  
  Reader Radical $15/month →  
  Reader Rebel  $5/month  → 

Not ready to commit? Send us what you can!

 One-time donation  → 

Agenda Teaser

Performing Arts
Henchpeople Jarvis Square Theater
July 09
Galleries & Museums
May 28

Popular Stories

  • Book It

    New and recent book releases from Chicago authors and publishers
    |
  • A silence louder than words

    How allegations of sexual abuse exposed cracks in the foundation of Young Chicago Authors, Free Write Arts & Literacy, and the city’s spoken word community
    |
  • Comedy is back, baby!

    A glimpse at how stand-ups coped during the pandemic and made their triumphant return to telling jokes again.
    |
  • Weed Wolf, the tagger

    'No matter how lame or artsy-fartsy it is, I'll take anything over a poo-brown wall'