MetroStage to Present GEE'S BEND, 9/12-11/3
Gee's Bend by Elyzabeth Gregory Wilder and directed by Thomas W. Jones II, music directed by William Hubbard and William Knowles will be in performance at MetroStage Sept. 12-Nov. 3. Gee's Bend tells the true story of the Pettway family in Gee's Bend, Alabama, as they live through segregation, the Civil Rights Movement and become famous for their iconic quilts. All of this is told with a backdrop of soul-stirring music in the gospel tradition that the Gee's Bend women sang as they quilted.
The year is 1939 and young Sadie and Nella are at the river, Gee's Bend being literally in the bend of the Alabama River, a land where these former slaves have lived for generations. Over time they marry and the 1960's Civil Rights Movement comes to them when Martin Luther King Jr. stops by Gee's Bend the night before the famous march from Selma, a city not far from Gee's Bend,. The lives of these families is also defined by their quilt making, the quilts being for special occasions like the wedding quilt as well as for everyday comfort. Their lives change dramatically when their quilts are discovered and are recognized as works of art, with exhibitions in all of the major museums around the country (including the Whitney in NYC and the Corcoran in DC.) As works of art the quilts have been compared to the art of Paul Klee, Frank Stella and Henri Matisse.
Director Thomas W. Jones II is an Artistic Associate at MetroStage where many of his original musicals have premiered, most recently in January 2013, Ladies Swing the Blues. Since 2001 at MetroStage Jones has written and directed Harlem Rose, Three Sistahs, Two Queens One Castle, Bricktop, Cool Papa's Party (Helen Hayes nomination), and Pearl Bailey...by request. Three Sistahs and Two Queens, One Castle have been performed all over the country, with Pearl Bailey...by request most notably playing the Stachner Cabaret at Milwaukee Rep. Cool Papa's Party is currently under consideration for a New York production.
Co-Music directors for Gee's Bend are William Knowles and William Hubbard, both of whom have music directed and performed in many of MetroStage's musical productions. Knowles has music directed and conducted shows including Bricktop, Cookin' at the Cookery, Cool Papa's Party (also composing the original music, and Helen Hayes Award), Pearl Bailey...by request, and, most recently, Ladies Swing the Blues (also his original music and arrangements.) He won a Helen Hayes Award for Dinah Was at Arena Stage. Hubbard has music directed and composed the music for Harlem Rose, and Three Sistahs and has performed in Bricktop, Cool Papa's Party, Pearl Bailey...by request, and Mahalia (Helen Hayes nomination) at MetroStage. He won the Helen Hayes Award for his music direction of Crowns at Arena Stage.
The cast features:
Roz White (Sadie) has appeared at MetroStage in Three Sistahs, Bricktop, Two Queens, One Castle, Cool Papa's Party, and Pearl Bailey...by request, and, most recently, as Billie Holliday in Ladies Swing the Blues, all written and directed by Thomas W. Jones II. She won a Helen Hayes Award for her role in Mr. Jones' Bessie's Blues at Studio Theatre. She will be performing later this season in Ella Fitzgerald: First Lady of Song at MetroStage.
Margo Moorer (Nella) is honored to reprise the role she originated for the world premiere at Alabama Shakespeare Festival in 2007. She has worked on world premieres by playwrights ReGina Taylor, Kia Corthron, Cheryl West, and Shay Youngblood, and has been seen in films including Forrest Gump, ATL, and Runaway Jury. Reshonda Tate Billingsley's Let the Church Say Amen, a BET original movie, and the Hallmark movie, The Watson's Go to Birmingham, will both air this fall. Other TV films include The Wedding with Halle Berry. She has been a judge on Drop Dead Diva for the past four years. She is based in Atlanta (and is the proud mom of Amber Iman who just made her Broadway debut as Nina Simone in Soul Doctor. Amber performed at MetroStage in The Stephen Schwartz Project when she was a student at Howard University.)