MetroStage to Present ELLA FITZGERALD: FIRST LADY OF SONG, 1/23-3/16
Carolyn Griffin has announced that MetroStage will be presenting the musical Ella Fitzgerald: First Lady of Song, conceived and directed by Maurice Hines, with book by Lee Summers, Jan. 23-Mar. 16, 2014. Ella Fitzgerald, her cousin and traveling companion Georgiana, and her manager and jazz impresario Norman Granz tell her story both backstage and onstage. From a homeless street dancer to winning amateur night at the Apollo Theatre at the age of 15, from headlining with Chick Webb and his Orchestra at the Savoy Ballroom to performing Live at the Cote D'Azur, from discovering she could "scat" to mastering a new art form called "bebop," this musical tells the fascinating journey of this legendary artist. Maurice Hines is the director. Mel Johnson Jr. is the associate director, and William Knowles is the music director, arranger, and orchestrator.
Lee Summers wrote the book for this musical, which was originally produced in 2004 at Crossroads Theatre in New Brunswick, NJ, also starring Freda Payne. He is a writer/composer/producer, performer and director whose work spans Broadway (original Dreamgirls); film (Malcolm X) and episodic television (Blue Bloods 2013, Boardwalk Empire, Law & Order and others.) He has written/composed for numerous musicals and plays, including Off-Broadway's From My Hometown, The Funkentine Rapture (National Alliance for Musical Theatre), If These Shoes Could Talk (starring Harold Nicholas) and many others. He is recipient of a 2010 Bistro Award, a Yip Harburg Fellow and recipient of a Gilman and Gonzalez-Falla Commendation for his body of work in American Musical Theater.
Director Maurice Hines conceived of this production, which tells the story of Ella's life based on his conversations and friendship with her backstage at the Flamingo Hotel in Las Vegas in 1960 when Ella was performing with Hines, Hines and Dad. He began tap lessons when he was 5 years old at the Henry LeTang Dance Studio in Manhattan and first appeared on Broadway at the age of 11. He toured internationally as Hines, Hines and Dad with his father and brother, Gregory. He was in the national tour of Guys and Dolls, has been on Broadway in Eubie!, Sophisticated Ladies and many others. In 2009 Mr. Hines choreographed the world premiere of Cool Papa's Party at MetroStage and received the Helen Hayes Award for Outstanding Choreography. He also directed and choreographed Josephine Tonight at MetroStage. That production received a Helen Hayes nomination for Outstanding Ensemble. At Arena Stage he choreographed and starred in Sophisticated Ladies (Helen Hayes nomination for Outstanding Choreography), where he was most recently seen in Maurice Hines is Tappin' Thru Life, a show that he will be touring to Atlanta, Cleveland and Los Angeles in 2014.
The band will be William Knowles, piano; Yusef Chisholm, bass and playing the role of Ray Brown; Greg Holloway, drums and playing the role of Chick Webb; Grant Langford, sax; and Doug Pierce, trumpet. Production Stage Manager is William E. Cruttenden III.
Designers are: Carl Gudenius, set; Chris Banks and John Traub, projections; Scotty Sherman, costumes; and Alexander Keen, lights, and Robert Garner, sound.
Performances are Thursdays and Fridays at 8, Saturdays at 3 and 8, Sundays at 3 and 7. PWYC is Thursday Jan. 23 and Press Night is Sunday, Jan 26 at 7 pm. MetroStage is located at 1201 N. Royal St. in Alexandria, Virginia in North Old Town. Tickets may be ordered by calling 1-800-494-8497 or online at boxofficetickets.com. For group sales and information call the theatre at 703-548-9044. The theatre's website is www.metrostage.org.