Penumbra artistic director Lou Bellamy directs the production, dramatically framed within Cole's landmark 1950's television series, which was airing weekly in American households prior to the signing of the Civil Rights Act. I Wish You Love will run through July 24.
Penumbra associate artistic director Dominic Taylor penned the play with music, which incorporates over 20 of Cole's hit songs, including "Get Your Kicks on Route 66" and "Let There Be Love." The musical recently concluded a well-received run at the Kennedy Center.
The cast includes Dennis W. Spears as Nat King Cole, Kevin D. West as Oliver Moore, Eric Berryman as Jeffrey Prince and Michael Tezla as Bill Henry.
According to Hartford Stage, "I Wish You Love captures a significant moment in the life of legendary crooner Nat King Cole. The play uses Cole's television show to illustrate the man, the times, and the real life drama behind the sanitizing lens of the television camera. It's 1957, and times are changing. President Eisenhower had the Civil Rights Act on his desk, Althea Gibson had won Wimbledon, nine children were about to integrate Little Rock Central High School in Arkansas, and Nat King Cole was the first black man that many in America let into their living room. Cole believed that with enough talent and persistence he would be judged on the content of his character as opposed to the color of his skin."
I Wish You Love has set design by Lance Brockman, costume design by Mathew J. LeFebvre, lighting design by Don Darnutzer, sound and video design by Martin Gwinup, and music direction by Sanford Moore. For tickets and more information, phone (860) 527-5151 or visit hartfordstage.org.