She was a hit at the Cotton Club and Apollo and in later years, a fixture at the Cookery in Greenwich Village. Jazz singer Alberta Hunter stayed active until her death, in 1984, at age 89. Now playwright and actress Rhodessa Jones will play Hunter in My Castle's Rockin', a solo bio by Larry Parr.
The show has its west coast premiere, Mar. 19-Apr. 18 (opening Mar. 21), at Theatre Rhinoceros in Berkeley, CA. Adele Prandini directs the piece, which features piano accompaniment by musical director Rudi Mwongozi.
My Castle's Rockin' traces Hunter's career from singing in "sportin' houses" to the finest cabarets in Europe. Then the Nazis came and Hunter became a fixture on the Harlem circuit and with the USO.
Founder of "The Medea Project: Theatre for Incarcerated Women," Jones also co-wrote Perfect Courage (with Idris Ackamoor). As part of La MaMa's Experimental Theatre Club's 35th Anniversary celebration last year, the Off-Off-Broadway company revived three Jones pieces to honor Jones' 17-year collaboration with saxophonist Ackamoor: I Think It's Gonna Work Out Fine, The Legend Of Lily Overstreet, and Big Butt Girls, Hard-Headed Women.
Jones and Ackamoor are also co-directors of San Francisco's Cultural Odyssey, which Ackamoor founded in 1979 and Jones joined in 1981. Jones made her La MaMa debut in 1986 with Lily Overstreet. Now 20 years old, Theatre Rhinoceros specializes in gay- and lesbian-themed works, "encompassing the breadth of queer experience."
For tickets ($12-$19) and information My Castle's Rockin' at Theatre Rhinoceros call (415) 861-5079.
-- By David Lefkowitz