Uggams, Gaines, Hoty to Star in Stormy Weather: Imagining Lena Horne in Philly

News   Uggams, Gaines, Hoty to Star in Stormy Weather: Imagining Lena Horne in Philly
Stormy Weather: Imagining Lena Horne, a new musical about the showbiz legend, starring Tony Award winner Leslie Uggams, will premiere Feb. 10 at Philadelphia's Prince Music Theater.

Written by Sharleen Cooper Cohen, the musical borrows classic tunes from the American songbook to tell the story of the actress-singer who broke boundaries.

Michael Bush (Based on a Totally True Story) directs, Randy Skinner (42nd Street) choreographs and Davis Gaines (a beloved star of The Phantom of the Opera) co-stars as Horne's husband, Lennie Hayton. Broadway's Dee Hoty (The Will Rogers Follies) is vocal coach and bigger-than-life singer Kay Thompson.

"Horne, the first black pin-up girl and movie star, defied the societal conventions of her time, thus helping to break down racial prejudices in American popular culture — ultimately blazing a trail for African-American performers who came after her," according to production notes.

Performances play the Prince to March 4. Opening is Feb. 17.

According to the Prince, "This innovative new musical digs deep into the life of the controversial and cataclysmic entertainer, stripping away the artifice of her fame and fortune, to grant a behind-the-scenes look into Horne's turbulent and transcendent career." The score will include such hits as "The Lady is a Tramp," "From This Moment On" and, of course, "Stormy Weather."

Uggams won the Tony for her turn in the 1968 musical, Hallelujah, Baby, which was originally written for Lena Horne. Her Broadway credits include Thoroughly Modern Millie, King Hedley II, Jerry's Girls, Anything Goes and On Golden Pond.

Stormy Weather is being mounted as part of the Philadelphia New Play Festival, a program of the Theatre Alliance of Greater Philadelphia.

Stormy Weather has been seen in New York City readings. The show is conceived and written by Sharleen Cooper Cohen.

The creative team also includes Bruce Barnes (musical director), Daryl Waters (orchestrator and vocal arranger), Jim Noone (scenic designer), Linda Cho (costume designer), Traci Klainer (lighting designer) and Nick Kourtides (sound designer).

The cast also features Kearann Giovanni as Young Lena, Kevyn Morrow (London's Ragtime) as Billy Strayhorn, Carey Brown as Gail/Amanda, Destan Owens (Rent) as Teddy Jones, Jr., Julia Lema as Edna/Ruby, Dathan B. Williams as Teddy Horne, Sr., Jared Grimes as Aiken Bones/Medgar Evers, Daniel J. Watts as Jivin' Jones/Louis Jones, Julyza A. Commodore as Young Gail/Amy, Michael Scott as Arthur Freed/Ensemble.

Julian Brightman and Katie O'Shaughnessey make up the rest of the ensemble.

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