ANGELS WITHOUT WINGS review byJaz Dorsey (Nashville) — Angels Without Wings , Dr. Jamie Cutler — AAPEX

Friday, August 3, 2012

ANGELS WITHOUT WINGS review byJaz Dorsey (Nashville)

ANGELS WITHOUT WINGS - Review by Jaz Dorsey, The Nashville Dramaturgy Project

Jamie Cutler has assembled a fine cast of Nashville actresses (& actors) for the debut run of her WWII drama ANGELS WITHOUT WINGS, a very personal play which remembers her mother and others who were the first women to join the American military as pilots.

When she first wrote ANGELS, she did not know that the time would come when President Obama would honor these women with a medal - or that it would be her mother's image which would grace the medal - but these historic details certainly add poignancy to what was already a stirring story of both patriotism and the history of women's rights in the 20th century.

ANGELS is a remarkable and timely history lesson, which starts in the lobby of The Darkhorse with a fascinating display of articles, photos and magazine covers and continues in the theatre with a fine slide show which, among other things, transports us to the town of Sweetwater, Texas, where the training of these women pilots took place.

The evening begins with a recorded curtain speech, delivered military style, which instructs the audience as to how to find the latrines and which way to exit in case of an air raid, and ends with a curtain call right off the fields of West Point.

In between, we eavesdrop on the barracks life and field training of six diverse women who, each for her own reason, has chosen to join the military (though it's a bit unclear which branch) and take to the skies. The women are at one and the same time unusually ambitious for their time and yet still very much the product of their generation and culture - which means that there is as much banter about men, boyfriends and husbands as there is about flying and the war that is casting it's bleak shadow across American lives. Among the mix are a Jewish gal from the NorthEast and an African American gal from California (who also happens to be pregnant and whose husband is MIA) - opening the door for some humorous (if slightly uncomfortable) moments when the four "all american" girls admit that they have never met a Jew before or wonder what their families would say if they knew that their daughter was garrisoned with a "person of color." As much as it is about the military, ANGELS WITHOUT WINGS is also a reflection on ways in which the war began to break down barriers and pave the way for the social pendulum that swung from the 50s to the 60s.

Cutler's play is very much an ensemble piece and one could feel the merging of that energy as the cast stepped out in front of an audience for the first time. The minimal set is effective and the lighting does a fine job of defining the play's actions, while classic music of the era - a music always does - takes us on the journey.

The members of the ensemble include Britt Byrd, Halee Culicerto, Briana Ferrie, Sean Hills, Kyla Lowder, Courtney McClellan, Kevin Shell, and Elizabeth Walsh. They rise to the occasion and give ANGELS it's wings.

The DarkHorse run continues this Friday - Sunday, August 3 - 5. Tickets online at

Come to Nashville and Go to the Theatre.

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