Photo Flash: First Look at Kathy Halenda in Walnut Street Theatre's 'SOPHIE TUCKER'

Walnut Street Theatre's 2013-2014 Independence Studio on 3 season opens with a bang as the 'first broad' of American Theatre takes the stage in Sophie Tucker: The Last of the Red Hot Mamas. Directed by Richard Hopkins, who is a co-creator of the show, the production opens tonight, November 21st and continues through December 29th in the Walnut's Independence Studio on 3. BroadwayWorld has a first look at the show below!

In 1912 Sophie Tucker wowed Walnut Street Theatre audiences in Louisiana Lou, bringing down the house with a spoof of underworld dancing known as "The Puritan Prance." The spirit of Sophie returns to the Walnut in this musical revue that celebrates the legendary life, loves and bawdy behavior of the unforgettable red hot mama.

Audiences are invited to spend an intimate evening with Sophie Tucker: The Last of the Red Hot Mamas. She was America's Queen of the double entendre. Naughty? Yes, in a fun-loving way with a wink or two, that's never graphic or obscene. Take delight in an evening full of musical hits from the 1920s, including "Real Women Have Curves," "Living Alone and I Like It," "After You've Gone," "Fifty Million Frenchmen Can't Be Wrong," "My Yiddishe Momme," "Life Begins at Forty" and, her uplifting signature song, "Some of These Days."

At a young age, Sophie Tucker began singing at her parents' restaurant while waiting tables. Between taking orders and serving customers, Sophie remembered "I would stand up in the narrow space by the door and sing with all the drama I could put into it. At the end of the last chorus, between me and the onions there wasn't a dry eye in the place." She was known for appearing on stage with just a piano player, and openly discussing her personal life and Jewish upbringing. Sophie saw herself as one of the first liberated women and one of the last "red hot mamas." She is considered a trailblazer for many of our great female entertainers, including Mae West, Carol Channing, Joan Rivers, Roseanne Barr, Ethel Merman and Bette Midler.

Sophie Tucker was created by Richard Hopkins, Jack Fournier and Kathy Halenda in 2000 for Florida Studio Theatre in Sarasota, Florida. Since that time, the show has played theatres in New York City, Chicago, Atlanta and Toronto. In 2009, the show was selected to present at the Piccolo Spoleto Festival in South Carolina. The show then returned to Sarasota for a limited engagement.

Director Richard Hopkins has been with the show since its inception. As Artistic Director of Florida Studio Theatre, it was in his theatre that the show had its world premiere. Hopkins' many directing credits include: Metamorphoses, Gross Indecency: The Three Trials of Oscar Wilde, Six Degrees of Separation, Beyond Therapy and True West, and Cabaret projects including Inspired Lunacy, Shakespeare's Greatest Hits and Over the Rainbow. He is joined by Musical Director and Accompanist Jim Prosser and Associate Musical Director David Jenkins.

Kathy Halenda captures the sassy style and brassy spirit of the American songstress as Sophie Tucker. A professional actor and singer for over twenty-five years, Halenda has performed in over 200 productions, including eighteen national tours in cities across the globe. She has played Mama Rose in Gypsy, Golde in Fiddler on the Roof, Maggie Jones in 42nd Street, Miss Mona in The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, Miss Hannigan in Annie, and The Plant in Little Shop of Horrors. She has also played the title roles in Mame; Hello, Dolly; Evita and Annie Get Your Gun. Halenda starred in the world premiere of Sophie Tucker: The Last of the Red Hot Mams and is thrilled to join Richard Hopkins and the Walnut Street Theatre for this new production.

The Walnut welcomes Scenic Designer Bruce Price, making his Studio 3 debut with Sophie Tucker, along with Costume Designer Marcella Beckwith, Sound Designer Liz Atkinson and Lighting Designer Charles S. Reece.

Tickets are $35-$45 and are now available at 215-574-3550 or 215-336-1234. Tickets are also available at WalnutStreetTheatre.org or Ticketmaster.com.

Photos courtesy of Walnut Street Theatre.

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Kathy Halenda with Jim Prosser


Kathy Halenda with Jim Prosser


Kathy Halenda with Jim Prosser

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