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Washington DC by Susan Berlin

Pearl Bailey ... By Request

Also see Susan's review of 1 Henry IV

Pearl Bailey ... By Request
Roz White
Singing actress Roz White shares a birth date with the legendary performer Pearl Bailey, and her cabaret-style tribute, Pearl Bailey ... By Request, offers an hour and a quarter of fabulous entertainment at MetroStage in Alexandria, Virginia. White also appeared at MetroStage as another notable singer, Alberta Hunter, in Bricktop, but that production was an overview of an era while this one—written by White with Thomas W. Jones II—is framed as a reincarnation of Bailey's glamorous nightclub act.

Bailey had a prominent career on Broadway, including the all-black cast of Hello, Dolly!, and also appeared in movies and on television; the hallmark of her live performances was her ability to make a personal connection with her audiences. She earned a bachelor's degree in theology from Georgetown University in her later years, and received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1988; she died two years later.

White embodies the sleek, sassy Bailey in her prime, carrying on a conversation with the MetroStage audience (including a few tables in the front) and sharing stories of Bailey's past in between highlights of her singing career. Her rapport with viewers includes asking to borrow the shoes of a woman in the front row.

Highlights of the performance include "A Woman's Prerogative" and "Legalize My Name," Bailey's two show-stoppers from the 1946 musical St. Louis Woman (music by Harold Arlen, lyrics by Johnny Mercer); juicy duets of "The Hucklebuck" and "Baby, It's Cold Outside" with singer-trumpeter Hot Lips Page (embodied by the winning William Hubbard); and a pulsing, up-tempo "St. Louis Blues."

Director Shirley Basfield Dunlap keeps spirits high and the pacing fast. Musical director and pianist Marvin Ford fronts a spirited combo that also includes guitarist David Cole, bassist Yusef Chisholm, and drummer Greg Holloway.

MetroStage
Pearl Bailey ... By Request
October 16th November 9th
Story concept by Roz White
Book by Roz White and Thomas W. Jones II
Music arrangements by William Knowles
Pearl Bailey: Roz White
MC, Hot Lips Page: William Hubbard
Directed by Shirley Basfield Dunlap
Musical direction by Marvin Ford
1201 N. Royal St.
Alexandria, VA 22314
Ticket Information: 703-548-9044 or www.metrostage.org


-- Susan Berlin


Also see the Current Theatre Season Calendar for D.C.



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