New York City
This moving and celebratory musical is a wonderful exploration of African American history and identity in which hats are the springboard. As seen through the eyes of a young black woman sent down South to stay with her aunt after her brother dies, hats are everywhere, and in exquisite variety. Each character uses the hats to tell tales concerning everything from the etiquette of hats to their historical and contemporary social functioning. There is a hat for every occasion, from flirting to churchgoing to funerals to baptisms, and the tradition of hats are traced back to African rituals and slavery and forward to the New Testament and current fashion. Gospel music and dance – with a sprinkling of rap – underscores and support the stories. The conclusion finds the young woman learning from her Southern roots, embracing hats and their cultural significance as a part of her own fiercely independent identity.