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April Axé Charmaine, CEO of nomadic lifestyle company Sol Vida Worldwide, is no stranger to performance art. The direction of her first full-length play, Caleen Sinnette Jennings’ Queens Girl in the World, has a different resonance with her as it is a coming-of-age story in which she deals with navigating race, sexual abuse and identify addiction.
“I know what it’s like to be trapped in a black and white world,” she explains. “Living with sexual trauma; wonder about cycles and sexuality. I am in love [the play] because it is a lovely ode to the black experience and historical memories are essential during this time. “
Queens Girl in the World tells the story of Jacqueline Marie Butler, who led a middle class life in Queens, New York in the 1960s and was suddenly transferred to a mostly Jewish private school in Greenwich Village.
Actor and comedian Janae Burris, who lived in Denver and now lives in Los Angeles, stars and twelve other characters in this production.
“It’s pretty easy to play Jackie because her story is universal,” says Burris. “It’s a coming-of-age story that most girls and women can relate to. We spend our youth finding out [out] How to fit in with the world and one day we wake up and realize that all we are is already enough. “
Charmaine enjoyed working with Burris.
“She is embodied, intuitive, astute, graceful, quick-witted, and understands the depths of soul, nature and relationship that take place in a scene and a character,” explains Charmaine. “She’s a director’s dream. [She] holds the work and brings it to life and kills you in the process. “
Queens Girl in the World is the first play that April Axé Charmaine has staged.
Melanie Moreno / Firefly Photography
Charmaine has choreographed, taught, and produced many performance pieces in and outside Colorado.
“I left Denver in 2017 and became an internationally traveling artist doing work in Spain, France, Colombia, the Bay and New York,” she says. “I’ve been part of some great productions including The Emperor Jones directed by Donnie Betts in the Aurora Fox, Once on This Island at East High School …[and] Winifred Harris’ One Race Woman at the Cleo Parker Robinson Dance. “
For this production, Charmaine wants the audience to recognize black history.
“I also want to give people the opportunity to realize their dreams and their lives,” she says. “To honor personal truth and be yourself, no matter where you are or who is there. Connect with the spirit and do what you have to do to tell your truth.
“These [play] is one of those unique projects contemplated by a bold and brilliant light, sound and projection scheme, ”adds Charmaine. “The fact that we can work in a live theater at this stage of a global pandemic is an amazing blessing and an opportunity to embrace the brilliance of life.”
Queens Girl in the World runs April 16 through May 9 at the Aurora Fox Theater, 9900 East Colfax Avenue, Aurora. Tickets are available on the Aurora Fox website.
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Khaleel Hayes is a writer and journalist who graduated from MSU Denver in 2018. His work includes profiles, film reviews, poems, short plays and photography.