By Nadine Goff, Capital Times
Jinx Davis’ new one-woman show, “Smile!” opening Saturday evening at the Mode Theatre will pay tribute to four great women of comedy: Anna Russell, Moms Mabley, Whoopi Goldberg and Lily Tomlin.
As she transfroms herself from character to character, Davis will interact with both her audience and life-sized sculptures, exploring the goddess concerpt. the sculptures are part of “She of a Thousand Namres,” a touring exhibit curated by Lynn Slatter Hellmuth. They are currently on display at the Mode Theatre, which bills itself as a residential gallery and performance space.
“Smile!” will open with Davis presenting her version of Russell’s famous lecture on “Wind Instruments I have Known.” Russell, a British performer, made her 50-year career by satirizing and lovingly riduling serious music, says Davis.
The actress then will transform herself into Mablley, who started her career in the black vaudeville circuit. During her career, which spanned more than six decades, Mablley performed with Paul Robeson, Bill Cosby, the Smothers Brother and others.
Goldberg’s and Tomlin’s styles will be explored in the second half of the program.
Interlaced through the perofmance, says Davis, is the theatre’s commitment and support of Girl X. A 9-year-old resident of Chicago’s Cabrini-Green housing project, Girl X was beaten, raped and poisoned and left for dead in a stairwell in January. Currently receiving treatment in a Chicago rehabilitation hospital, the girl has not been publicly identified.
Davis says that while the Jon-Benet Ramsey murder case has galvanized public sentiment, the Girl X case has remained almost unreported.
“Girl X has become a symbol of the devasting disparity between class and race in our nation,” she says.
A portion of the ticket revenue from each performance of “Smile!” will be donated to a fund created to help pay for Girl X’s medical expenses.