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Queens of 1878 Fireburn Remembered in Stage Play

Feb. 24, 2005 – Susanna Abrahanson, the fourth Queen of the 1878 Fireburn, will take center stage this weekend alongside queens Mary, Agnes, and Mathilde in a new play produced by St. Croix Center Stage at the Sidney Lee Theatre at Island Center. In celebration of Black history month, the story highlights the enormous sacrifices made by these four incredible women as they return to us as spirits to guide our youth on their journey to become stars.
The talented teenagers performing in the play are being groomed to represent the Virgin Islands as art and culture ambassadors in the play, slated for a tour to New York and North Carolina during summer 2005. The play's author, Madeline McCray, has been consulting with historian Wayne James to secure details about the fourth queen, Susanna Abrahanson, known as Bottom Belly.
Kurt Vialet, principal of St. Croix Education Complex, has been very helpful during the process, and is a big fan of the original Quelbe songs created for the show by Broadway composer Timothy Graphenreed. The play also celebrates contributions made to the Virgin Islands by General Buddhoe, David Hamilton Jackson, Edward W. Blyden, and Casper A. Holstein.
The show stars Chantal Harrigan as Queen Mary, Francillia Benjamin as Minkhara, Jael Browne as Queen Agnes, Clarence Alexis as Benny, Cati James as April, Trevon Nelson as Khalil, Christalia Marks as Jessica, Julio Petersen III as Nadir, Amaris Chew as Queen Mathilde, and Stephanie Nelson-James as Queen Susanna.
The moral of the play is pursue your dreams, value your culture, always honor your ancestors, and remember where you come from. Workshops for this production have been made possible by the Virgin Islands Law Enforcement and Planning Commission, HOVENSA, Jewelweed, as well as private donors.
Showtimes are Friday, Feb. 25, at 8 p.m., and Sunday, Feb. 27, at 5:30 p.m. at the Sidney Lee Theatre. Tickets for adults are $15, $7 for students, and are available at Jewelweed in Christiansted, Pier 69 in Frederiksted. Reserved tickets must be paid for no later than one hour prior to show time. For additional information call 772-0712.

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