"Idol" Star Plays Gospel Idol in Musical Mahalia at Hartford Stage Beginning Aug. 2 | Playbill

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News "Idol" Star Plays Gospel Idol in Musical Mahalia at Hartford Stage Beginning Aug. 2 Frenchie Davis — the former "American Idol" contestant who played a lengthy run in Broadway's Rent — heads the cast of the Hartford Stage presentation of Mahalia–A Gospel Musical, which begins performances Aug. 2.
Frenchie Davis begins performances in Mahalia.
Frenchie Davis begins performances in Mahalia.

Part of the 2007 SummerStage season, the show will run through Aug. 19. Hartford Stage associate artistic director Jeremy Cohen directs the work penned by Tom Stolz that centers on music star Mahalia Jackson.

Billed as "equal parts gospel musical, biography, and revival meeting," Mahalia takes a "look at the music and Civil Rights pioneer and is guaranteed to lift audiences out of their seats with such songs as 'His Eye is on the Sparrow,' 'How I Got Over,' 'Deep River' and 'Move On Up a Little Higher.'"

Joining Davis in the cast are Miche Braden and JMichael. Braden has appeared at Hartford Stage in The Devil's Music: The Life & Blues of Bessie Smith and has also been seen in Lady Day at Emerson's Bar & Grill, Hot Snow, Ma Rainey's Black Bottom; HATS: The Red Hat Society Musical and The People's Temple. Newcomer JMichael made his acting debut in August Wilson's The Piano Lesson and has served as music director for Cane, Body Snatchers, Blues in the Night, Rejoice, The Piano Lessonand The Wiz.

Davis was a part of the second season of FOX's "American Idol" and has gone on to earn the VH1 Diva Award, star in a national tour of Dreamgirls and a European tour of Little Shop of Horrors and perform on Broadway in Rent.

The design team features Jeff Cowie (scenic), Dan Covey (lighting), Reggie Ray (costumes) and Michael Miceli (sound). The Connecticut company will begin its mainstage season with Thornton Wilder's Our Town starring Hal Holbrook (Aug. 30-Sept. 30) and continue with David Grimm's Chick, The Great Osram (Oct. 11-Nov. 11), Jeremy Sams' Zerline's Tale (Jan. 10-Feb. 10, 2008), Lydia Diamond's The Bluest Eye (Feb. 21 March 23, 2008), Theresa Rebeck's The Scene (April 3-May 4, 2008) and Tennessee Williams' The Milk Train Doesn’t Stop Here Anymore starring Olympia Dukakis (May 15-June 15, 2008).

Tickets for Mahalia at Hartford Stage, 50 Church Street in downtown Hartford, CT, are available by calling (860) 527-5151. For more information visit www.hartfordstage.org.

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