The "musical valentine" to the jazz great is written by James Mirrione and De Shields, the veteran of such Broadway shows as Play On! and The Full Monty. Lawrence Maslon, creator of the PBS series, "Broadway: The American Musical," will direct and Mercedes Ellington is choreographer. Performances begin June 20.
DeShields won't lack for Broadway colleagues in Dennis. Brian Murray stars in a July 4-16 staging of A. R. Gurney's The Dining Room. Also in the cast are Michael McDonald and Stephnie Weir. James Brennan directs. And the season will conclude Aug. 29-Sept. 10 with Dress for Dinner, a comedy by Marc Camoletti. Dee Hoty (Mamma Mia!) and Michael Rupert (Falsettos) will star alongside Kevin Spirtas. James Brennan directs.
In between those two attractions will come the 1920s musical No, No Nanette, with Fred Willard (July 18-30); the Fats Waller revue Ain't Misbehavin', directed by Greg Ganakas (Aug. 1-13); and Around the World in Eighty Days, a small-cast production of the Jules Verne classic by Mark Brown. Russ Treyz directs (Aug 15-27).
The Playhouse was founded by Raymond Moore. A former Unitarian Meeting House, the quaint, white shingled, 600-seat theatre features a wrap-around balcony. The theatre opened in 1927 with a production of The Guardsman starring Basil Rathbone. Among the many noteworthy productions to be staged there over the years was a 1937 Hamlet starring Eva LeGallienne in the title role and Uta Hagen, in her professional debut, as Ophelia. Bette Davis, who spent teenage summers on Cape Cod, acted there, as did Tallulah Bankhead, Helen Hayes and Gertrude Lawrence, who met and married her husband Richard Aldrich (who ran the theatre for many years) at the Playhouse. Shirley Booth acted there so often, she kept her Oscar there.
The Cape Playhouse is located in Dennis, MA, at 820 Route 6A. For more information, call (508) 385-3911.