The Cyster Cycle Theatre Group, pronounced “Sister Circle,” is a group of enthusiastic theatre goers from Philadelphia whose quest is to enjoy the arts, especially theatre. Their most recent outing took them to Broadway’s Broadhurst Theatre to see “A Streetcar Named Desire.” The play is produced by talented Philadelphian Stephen Byrd.
“We traveled in a three-limousine caravan from Philadelphia to New York City to see the highly acclaimed production of the play,” said Ann Adderley. Adderley is the energetic originator and coordinator of the group.
Much preparation ensured that the day was a major highlight of the summer season for the group. The ladies of Cyster Cyrcle are retirees and working professionals. Their common thread is that they are passionate about the theater and the arts. On every outing they dress in red accented with pearls. “Red represents power and pearls represent elegance.”
Those enjoying the play included: Adderley, Barbara Henderson, Joan Miller, Debbie Bumbry, Joanne Nichols, Rosa Lloyd, Sandy Montique, Eloise Vaughn, Carolyn Wimbush, Marie Caliman, Gloria Akers, Elaine Turner, Barbara Jackson, Mary Davis, Tracy Richardson, Betty Slocum, Leslie Adderley-Long, Linda Watson, Evelyn Ireland, Brenda Watts, Vi Curry, Sheila Ireland, Ernestine Estes and Regina Wade.
The Cyster Cyrcle Theater Group originated in 2000 with 10 ladies traveling to New York in one limousine. They enjoyed “The Lion King” and “Beauty and the Beast.” Following the performances they gathered at Tavern on the Green for a delightful dinner. Also dining at the restaurant that night was the legendary actor Ossie Davis. He graciously allowed the group to take photographs with him in the Tavern Lobby. After dinner and that amazing encounter with the late actor, they cruised back home to Philadelphia, indulging in champagne, sparkling cider and chocolates.
Cyster Cyrcle has expanded to necessitate a three-limousine caravan, each carrying eight lovely ladies. They took their second trip to see “The Color Purple” in 2007. “Many of us had read the book or seen the movie,” said Adderley. “We were delighted to see how the director and cast handled some of the very sensitive issues in the storyline. At the conclusion of the performance, there was a sense of having been uplifted; a sense of hope; a sense of unexpected joy. We then dined at Cafe Descartes in Times Square. The management made personalized menus for each of us and treated us like the royalty. We took many photos during that outing also.”
The producer of this multi-racial Broadway production of “A Streetcar Named Desire,” Stephen Byrd, also produced “Cat On a Hot Tin Roof,” starring the dynamic James Earl Jones. Byrd extended a warm personal greeting to the Cyster Cyrcle Theatre Group in front of the Broadhurst Theater before the doors opened. This production, directed by Emily Mann, is different than any on Broadway that has preceded it: the show’s producer, Stephen Byrd, and the four leading actors: Blair Underwood, Nicole Ari Parker, Daphne Rubin-Vega and Wood Harris are all African-American or Latina.
Byrd arranged for the group to meet with cast members immediately following the show. “He informed me that he delights in having the cast and production team meets residents of the City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection. To regionally and emphatically cement that Philly connection, he made more than one reference to the famous Philly cheese steak,” Adderley shared.
The production was compelling, and the acting phenomenal and gripping, capturing this focused attention of the theater goers. The actors transformed the stage into a hot, steamy and sexy, over-populated, two-room flat in the French Quarter of New Orleans, La. Some scenes were raw, the dialogue was intense and the show provided an afternoon of entertainment that will remain a topic of conversation for weeks to come.
After the show, the ladies dined at Carmine’s Italian Restaurant where they reported the food to be delicious and plentiful.
The show ended its run in New York on July 22. It is moving to London’s West End Theater District, where it is sure to bring its vibrancy, angst and cast diversity to the theater-hungry London audiences.
“A Street Car Named Desire” has been named the recipient of the “Extraordinary Excellence in Diversity on Broadway Award” for the 2011–2012 season by the Eastern Region Equal Employment Opportunity Committee of Actors’ Equity Association. Stephen Byrd, his representatives, creative team and cast received the Diversity Award at a reception on Tuesday, July 17, in the Council Room at the Equity Building.
Thank you to Ann Adderley and the Cyster Cycle Theatre Group for sharing their wonderful story!
Have a fantastic week “Out and About” everyone!