ETHEL WATERS Compelling Voice Returns To Sarasota
Florida Studio Theatre proudly presents Ethel Waters: His Eye is on the Sparrow by Larry Parr, an inspiring musical biography celebrating the life and career of singer and actress Ethel Waters. Detailing Waters' inspiring journey from impoverished beginnings to Broadway and Hollywood stardom, this Mainstage production is a true rags-to-riches story and tribute to the resilience of the human spirit.
Ethel Waters: His Eye is on the Sparrow begins June 26 in FST's Keating Theatre, and is part of a three-show subscription package. Also included in the Summer Mainstage subscription package is the Off-Broadway hit musical The Marvelous Wonderettes and the Regional Premiere of the juicy comedy The Cottage. Subscriptions for all three Summer Mainstage shows can be purchased for as little as $49, and single tickets for Ethel Waters range from $29-39. Subscriptions and single tickets can be purchased at floridastudiotheatre.org or at (941) 366-9000.
"Witnessing Waters' journey as she overcomes hardships, poverty, and a deeply racist culture to become one of the country's most successful performers is inspiring," shared Kate Alexander, FST's Associate Director At-Large and the production's Director. "With music as her guide, Waters was able to fight the circumstances she was born into and achieve something great. This piece is a deep hero's journey. Ethel Waters is a true heroine."
Called "Captivating" by the The Washington Post, Ethel Waters: His Eye is on the Sparrow interweaves Waters' life story with her most well-known songs, like "Stormy Weather," "Sweet Georgia Brown," and "Am I Blue?" With perseverance and her unique voice, Waters escaped abject poverty and crossed racial barriers to become a legend. In the early 1920s, Waters was the highest paid African American recording artist, and in 1949, she became the second African American to be nominated for an Academy Award.
Florida Studio Theatre produced the World Premiere production of Ethel Waters: His Eye is on the Sparrow in 2005, receiving rave reviews from critics and audiences alike. "Audiences in FST's original production fell in love with Ethel's story," said playwright Larry Parr. "They were inspired by her ability to overcome not only external forces, like horrible racism and rejection, but also those challenging forces within her heart and mind. These are, perhaps, elements of our own selves, which we can also see in her. These relatable qualities make us wonder how we would have survived such a horrible, challenging beginning in our own lives."
Bringing the musical and theatrical icon to life is Sarasota favorite Jannie Jones, who also played Waters in FST's World Premiere production. "This piece touches a chord in me unlike any other. Larry [Parr] has written the perfect play that allows me to share my strengths as an actress and singer," shared Jones. "I hope to touch audiences' hearts and souls as I share Waters' unbelievable journey."
Also returning to FST is Music Director Dr. Justin P. Cowan, who was last seen music-directing and on the piano in last summer's hit production of Always...Patsy Cline. "Ethel Waters is known as an incredible vocalist with roots firmly planted in the blues," said Cowan. "What made her a star was not her voice alone, but her gift of storytelling."
Ethel Waters: His Eye is on the Sparrow continues FST's 29th Summer Mainstage Season, and begins June 26 in FST's Keating Theatre. The production is part of a three-show subscription package, which also includes the Off-Broadway hit musical The Marvelous Wonderettes and the Regional Premiere of the juicy comedy The Cottage. Subscriptions for all three Summer Mainstage shows can be purchased for as little as $49, and single tickets for Ethel Waters range from $29-39. Subscriptions and single tickets can be purchased at floridastudiotheatre.org or at (941) 366-9000