Moments of Joy offers a hilarious and inspiring glimpse into Joy Vandervort-Cobb’s life

Actress recounts her life, her loves, and her losess


Moments of Joy opens on Vandervort-Cobb in a dressing room, fretting over why on earth she ever agreed to write and perform this show. She worries aloud about whether it’s ready, why she thought it was a good idea, and why anyone would care when. The actress/playwright then prays for a muse and — poof! — Grandma Bernice, dead for years, appears. Bernice is quickly followed by Joy’s mother, Sandra, and Joy’s Aunt Bibby, all there to alternately encourage and hassle her into getting her courage up so she can go out there and perform the best, truest show possible.

The three women are a kind of modern-day, meddling version of the Fates; they hold the keys to Vandervort-Cobb’s past, present, and future. Each are accordingly present in the wings of the stage from start to finish. With these constant reminders of who she is cheering or, in the case of Bernice, drinking on the sidelines, Joy launches into her masterpiece.

Moments of Joy delivers just what it promises: it’s not only very funny — it’s celebratory in the most authentic sense. Vandervort-Cobb opens the show with a rendition of “Phenomenal Woman,” Maya Angelou’s poem set to music, and it truly is the anthem of the evening. We journey with Vandervort-Cobb from her radiant childhood, to L.A. as a teenager in the 1970s, to her first big tour, and finally to marriage, motherhood, separation, and reconciliation. It’s a beautiful, and sometimes ridiculous, exploration of the arc of a life.

Vandervort-Cobb has more than enough energy and character to pull off the one-woman show (her representation of one of the deans of CofC must have been dead on, judging from the irrepressible laughter of the students in the theater). Her grandmother, mother, and Aunt Bibby all are as recognizable as Joy herself. It’s especially interesting to notice similar elements of voice and carriage in both Joy and her mother; whether the resemblance is truly unconscious or not, it’s a moving tribute to the strength of our ancestors’ influence.

Whether you’re in the mood for some stellar character performance, comedy, or just a clear-headed foray into the twists and turns of family history, Moments of Joy is sure to satisfy. And ladies: if you don’t feel phenomenal when you go in, you will, without a doubt, when you leave.

RELATED

Support the Charleston City Paper

We’ve been covering Charleston since 1997 and plan to be here with the latest and Best of Charleston for many years to come. In a time where local journalism is struggling, the City Paper is investing in the future of Charleston as a place where diverse, engaging views can flourish. We can't do it without our readers. If you'd like to support local, independent journalism:

UP NEXT FROM

FEATURE

‘Salome’ has fun with death and feminism in a strong opening performance

Heath Ellison

Salome made its point immediately last night. The band halted their pre-show tuning, the audience silenced in response — and “Another One Bites the Dust” started playing over the speakers as the curtain rose to reveal a geometrically uneven stage. One character does a line of coke and the orchestra begins performing Richard Strauss’ classic […]


IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

The Agenda: 1,500 students could return to classrooms; SC cities defunding police … due to COVID-19

Charleston County Schools could bring back an additional 1,500 students for in-person learning by Nov. 11. Charleston County School District’s goal is to have 25,000 students learning in-person by Nov. 11, an additional 1,500 students and 60% of the district’s students. Source: WCSC Some South Carolina cities are defunding their police departments … due to […]

200,000 in SC could get health coverage with Medicaid expansion

Analyses from the Center on Budget Policy and Priorities predict 191,664 South Carolinians would gain health coverage if the state expands Medicaid. According to the CBPP, Medicaid expansion narrows racial disparities in health coverage and access to care, and it improves coverage and health for parents and children. It would also put the state in a better position to respond to […]

Before You Go: Clinton mentions Haley in 2024 talk; Tropical impacts in SC?

COVID-19 updates: South Carolina health officials reported 755 new cases of coronavirus on Sunday, with 20 additional confirmed deaths. With 6,158 on Sunday, the 12.3 percent of tests came back positive. As of 4:45 p.m. Oct. 26, via S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control:Confirmed cases in S.C.:  163,946 (+755)Positive tests in Charleston County (total): 16,608 (+26)Negative tests in S.C.: 1,670,655Deaths […]

10/26 COVID-19 update: 12.3% positive, 755 cases; 20 deaths

COVID-19 updates: South Carolina health officials reported 755 new cases of coronavirus on Sunday, with 20 additional confirmed deaths. With 6,158 on Sunday, the 12.3 percent of tests came back positive. As of 4:45 p.m. Oct. 26, via S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control:Confirmed cases in S.C.:  163,946 (+755)Positive tests in Charleston County (total): 16,608 (+26)Negative tests in S.C.: 1,670,655Deaths […]