Jenifer Lewis Returns to the Renberg Theatre, 7/13-14
Iconic actress and entertainer Jenifer Lewis has the distinction of scoring an unprecedented string of sold-out shows at the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center's Renberg Theatre with her brilliant performances in Getting It Off My Chest; BiPolar, Bath & Beyond; and Hot Flash! Now, the celebrated diva returns to the Renberg stage with An Intimate Evening With Jenifer Lewis. The special, two-night-only run will take place tonight, July 13 & July 14 at 8 p.m.
One of the great stage and screen entertainers of our time, Lewis has seen it and done it all-and is telling the truth about it in this sensational solo show that takes a frank look at her 30-year career spanning four Broadway shows, 60 movies and more than 250 TV appearances. An Intimate Evening combines personal stories, hilariously pointed social commentary and vocal brilliance (once described as "half laser beam, half lava flow"). The show features original songs, beloved standards and a medley celebrating the 15th anniversary of Jackie's Back, the Lifetime Television cult hit starring Lewis and featuring songs by Grammy, Emmy and Tony Award-winner Mark Shaiman.
Those fortunate enough to have experienced Ms. Lewis' exhilarating live performance in an intimate venue such as the Renberg can attest to her uncanny ability to leave audiences completely entertained (and perhaps a bit shocked!). An Intimate Evening With Jenifer Lewis swings with the vibrancy that has become synonymous with her name.
Lewis snared her first Broadway role within one month of graduating with a degree in theatre arts from Webster College in St. Louis. Around that time, she also launched a string of solo shows in cabarets throughout New York City. It was there that she was spotted one night by Bette Midler and immediately cast as a "Harlette," joining Midler's infamous trio of backup singers.
Shortly thereafter, Lewis moved to the West Coast, quickly becoming one of Hollywood's busiest actresses. Most recently she guest-starred in the blockbuster hit Think Like A Man. In animation, her uniquely recognizable voice is adored by Disney fans worldwide from roles such as "Flo" in Cars and as the 200-year-old sorceress "Mama Odie" in The Princess and the Frog. Lewis earned the title "Black Mother of Hollywood" thanks to memorable performances as Tina Turner's mother in What's Love Got to Do With It? and alongside Denzel Washington in The Preacher's Wife. In 2010 she portrayed the distraught mother "Candace," opposite Matt Damon in Clint Eastwood's Hereafter.For director Tyler Perry, Lewis created unforgettable characters in Madea's Family Reunion and Meet the Browns. In the movie "Castaway," Jenifer portrayed Tom Hanks' boss.
Lewis' versatility is at the heart of her long and diverse career. She recently garnered critical acclaim for her performance in Lifetime's prestigious TV movie Five, under the helm of first-time director Alicia Keys. Over the years, her TV roles have ranged from regular appearances as "Aunt Helen" on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air to guest star roles on Friends, Boston Legal" and Girlfriends. For six seasons, Lewis portrayed "Lana Hawkins" on Lifetime's number one hit series Strong Medicine.
Throughout her career, Lewis has always returned to live concerts and the theatre. Earlier this year, Lewis returned to her hometown in a guest performance with the 90-piece St. Louis Symphony, accompanied by a chorus of more than 100 voices. In 2011, she achieved a lifelong dream when she sang at Carnegie Hall as a special guest of Michael Feinstein.
Lewis starred alongside Meryl Streep and Kevin Kline in Shakespeare in the Park's New York production of Bertolt Brecht's Mother Courage and Her Children and wowed Seattle audiences as Dolly Levi in the venerable 5th Avenue Theatre's production of Hello Dolly!
In the '90s, Lewis' long-running solo show, The Diva Is Dismissed, earned two NAACP Theater Awards for best actress and best playwright. All told, Lewis has presented more than 200 concerts, performing in 49 states and four continents.
An Intimate Evening With Jenifer Lewis, written by Mark Alton Brown and Jenifer Lewis, directed by Iona Morris, and produced by Jon Imparato for the Lily Tomlin/Jane Wagner Cultural Arts Center, plays The Renberg Theatre (200-seat mid-size theater) at The L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center's Village at Ed Gould Plaza, located at 1125 N. McCadden Place, Los Angeles, Calif. (one block east of Highland, just north of Santa Monica Blvd.), Friday & Saturday, July 13 & 14 at 8 p.m.
General admission tickets are $25 and can be purchased online at www.lagaycenter.org/boxoffice or by calling 323-860-7300.
Photo credit: Camrin William