Written by and starring Broadway's Terry Burrell (Threepenny Opera, Thoroughly Modern Millie, Into the Woods), the limited engagement will continue through March 11. Avenue Q choreographer Kenneth Roberson directs.
"[Ethel Waters] had a real passion for what she did," said actress and author Burrell in a statement. "She earned her living in the world by fulfilling her passion. That is what I aspire to."
Here's how Walnut Street bills the production: "She was saucy. She was talented. She was a star. Ethel Waters grew up in difficult circumstances right outside of Philadelphia, in Chester, PA, in the early 1900s. She found a way to make a life for herself. She used colorful language, rough men and good old American street skills to work her way into a career that led to hit records, Broadway shows and even an Academy Award nomination – the second African American actress to ever be nominated. Ethel! entertains with personal stories of Waters’ life and unforgettable songs, including 'Dinah,' 'Heebie Jeebies,' 'Taking a Chance on Love' and 'Stormy Weather.'"
Waters, who began her career as a blues singer in the 1920s, was seen on Broadway in Africana, Lew Leslie's Blackbird's, Rhapsody in Black, As Thousands Cheer, At Home Abroad, Mamba's Daughters, Cabin in the Sky, Laugh Time, Blue Holiday, The Member of the Wedding and At Home with Ethel Waters. The performer was also nominated for an Academy Award for her performance in the 1949 film "Pinky" and had three recordings inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame: "Stormy Weather," "Am I Blue?" and "Dinah."
Other members of the creative team include musical director Aaron Graves, set designer Maura Roche, lighting designer Shon Causer, sound designer Zachary Brown, costume designer Rita Squitiere and stage manager Angela Cucco. The Independence Studio on 3 is located at 825 Walnut Street in Philadelphia, PA. For more information and tickets, call (215) 574-3550 or (215) 336-1234 or visit WalnutStreetTheatre.org or Ticketmaster.com.