Aurelia Williams Beautifully Celebrates Family, Music and Unity with SISTAS: The Musical

Q: Can you tell us a little bit about SISTAS: The Musical and your character, Simone?

A: SISTAS: The Musical is called a musical but actually it is a play that has a whole lot of singing in it. It’s a story where myself, My two sisters, my sister-in-law and my daughter are all cleaning out the attic here because our grandmother has just passed away. We are trying to figure out what we are going to do and sing for her memorial service that night. So there goes the reason why we keep breaking out into song. Which is nice, you don’t normally get a solid reason why, in musicals, you have people breaking out in song. In the course of cleaning out the attic a lot of memories come up through the pictures that we see, through the various artifacts of our grandmother’s life that requires explanation and in the course of that also the dynamics of the various different relationships between the sisters, mother, daughter, you know the whole group different dramas between them in their relationships is explored. I play Simone I am the mom of Tamika (Danea Osseni). I am the one mom of the sisters as far as we know. She is a college professor, she is an ivy league school graduate. She finds every moment to be a teachable moment for anyone who is in ear space of her. So she doesn’t stop talking.

Q: SISTAS is definitely a show that leaves audience members feeling uplifted. People seem to leave the theatre happier than they were when they went in. What is that like to play off of?

A: One thing that’s really great, I think we have the best audiences in New York. They come here ready to have a good time. They go from ready to have a good time to full on party by the time this ends. The best audiences get the best shows. A lot of times people don’t realize but the audience is the fifth cast member and when they give us stuff to feed off of we take it and continue to run with it. So it really is a fun dialogue. You know, we don’t break the fourth wall specifically but the audience is clearly welcomed into our little family dynamic here. So that’s fun.

Q: SISTAS is now in its 5th year Off-Broadway. Can you tell us what it was like to join a show that had already been running for so long and was already established?  

A: Well, it made the rehearsal pretty tough because one of the things that a lot of people don’t realize is that when you come into a show that is already established you don’t really get the benefit of full rehearsal. Like you would do when you are creating something together. They rehearse with you and the stage manager and dance captain. Then you rehearse yourself, alone in your house. You get one rehearsal when you have all the bodies put in called a ‘put in’ rehearsal and that’s it. So you really learn the show while you’re doing it. So a tough show to get put in to but it’s a lovely experience that you get to do. I’ve been a swing in various shows before so a lot of those memory muscles are already there and they are primed to teach me how to go and don’t be hindered by the things that I don’t know. You’ll get there.

Q: Do you have a favorite song/ moment within SISTAS?

A: I think my favorite moment is when we do the Beyoncé single ladies thing. It’s just so silly and I love silly. Also at the end of the show when we all culminate into the moral of the story that, you know, love is a powerful catalyst for change and progress and actually at the end of the show the audience does get welcomed in as a part of the show at the memorial service. It’s nice to welcome them in before we’re done because then they really get the feeling of ‘I’ve been part of this the whole time and now you’re actually talking to me. Yay.’ I like that too.

Q: What has the most inspiring audience interaction/ reaction been for you?

A: Something that does happen on a regular basis, particularly when we get audience members from other countries where English is not their first language or when they don’t speak English at all, when they get the message of the story despite the fact that the details of the words weren’t necessarily there, that’s inspiring because I always describe the show as one where the story is told in between the lines. The lines are important, obviously, but the story is really told outside of the words. So when it’s received from people who don’t really speak English that’s pretty cool.

Q: Why do you think that people should come and see SISTAS: The Musical?

A:  I think they should see SISTAS because it is a celebration of family, it’s a celebration of music and it’s a celebration of unity. To take an opportunity to recognize our bonds as humans and how music transcends any type of barriers that we put up. I think that SISTAS is an opportunity to do that and to receive that transcendence. So you know if you want to feel good come and see it.

SISTAS: The Musical plays at St. Luke’s Theatre Saturdays and Sundays at 4 30pm.

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