PRINCETON — It is a stunning, poignant play about such emotional topics as ‘secrets, forgiveness, the Civil Rights Movement and friendships,’ and this weekend, Princetonians will have the chance to take it in, right outside their own back doors. On Feb. 11 and 12, the RiffRaff Arts Collective will host a traveling production of the award-winning ‘Passing of Pearl,’ a presentation of 4 Pals Productions written by local playwright Vain Colby and directed by the Bluefield Summit Theater’s Thomas Lester. The play debuted last May at the Summit.

“This is a wonderful opportunity for us to share our show with out great neighbor, Princeton,” said Colby. “We have always appreciated Princeton’s support, and we’re excited to take the show to them.”

Attending Princeton residents will take in a show set in a Memphis diner in the 1980s. As the play opens, the diner’s owner, Pearl, has died and left the eatery to her daughter, who plans to sell it in order to build a condominium complex. While the spirit of Pearl emanates silently throughout the play, the two friends and diner colleagues she left behind struggle to deal with their loss. Aspects of the intriguing plot also revolve around the Civil Rights Movement, as the diner is located next to the Lorraine Motel, where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated.

“Trouble brews throughout, and comical yet thought-provoking dialogue ensues,” reads an online synopsis of the play. “You will laugh awhile and then tear up, so to speak. The play has proven to be very powerful. Many audience members in the past have left the production saying it made them want to be better members of society.”

And, it’s not just audiences who have left productions raving about “Pearl”. Recently, the play received the first-place trophy in a competition that earned it the right to represent West Virginia in the Southeast Region Theater Competition, in Atlanta. There, in March, Colby and his cast will compete against the top plays from 11 other southern states, with the top two shows earning the opportunity to represent the south in this year’s national theater showdown in New York. Proceeds from the RiffRaff productions and other stops along “Pearl’s” brief area tour, including a Feb. 16 show at the Bluefield High School Performing Arts Center and possibly a two-night encore at The Ramsey, in Bluefield, will go toward the cast’s trip to Atlanta, which will cost approximately $10,000.

In addition to Colby, who stars in the show, the play also features regional actors Tiffany Carter, Cameron Burton and Jay Kephart. It is produced by Jim Jenks.

The RiffRaff shows will be presented in dinner theater fashion, with food provided in the Heritage Café, next door to the RiffRaff’s Mercer Street facility. The shows will take place Feb. 11 and 12, with dinner beginning at 6 pm and show curtain rising at 7:30. Tickets are $30 apiece, and reservations are required. For more information, call 304-325-8000.

— Contact

CharLy Markwart at cmarkwart@ptonline.net.

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