Cookin’ cast sizzles at MetroStage
Legendary blues singer Alberta Young is gloriously brought to life
Theatre Review/Jeanne Theismann
February 5, 2008
“Let me sing how I feel,” is the ongoing mantra of
legendary blues singer Alberta Hunter, who is gloriously brought to life in the
award-winning musical Cookin’ at the Cookery, now playing at MetroStage Theater in
Written, directed and choreographed by Marion J. Caffey, the creative genius behind such hits as Three Mo’ Tenors and Three Mo’ Divas, Cookin’ is based on Hunter’s 1977 comeback concert at the age of 82.
Set in the Greenwich Village nightclub The Cookery, Coffey’s clever
scripting uses two multitalented actresses to trace Hunter’s extraordinary life
from her childhood roots in
Born in 1895, Hunter left home at the age of twelve to pursue her
dreams of singing in the blues clubs of
Through determination and persistence, as well as by lying about her age, Hunter eventually became a headliner in the elite nightspots of the city.
She would move on to
At the age of 59, Hunter would once again lie about her age, shaving
off 12 years in order to qualify for a nursing program at a
It is only after she is forced to retire from nursing that Hunter is coaxed back into singing and where the Cookin’ journey begins.
Playing Hunter as an adult is two-time Tony Award nominee Ernestine Jackson, who perfectly imparts the sophistication and witty style that was Hunter’s trademark.
With a rare gift for caricature,
Whether male, female, young, old, black or white,
But it’s when she channels the great Louis Armstrong for a rousing duet
Backing up the multitalented actresses is an electrifying four-piece ensemble led by Helen Hayes Award winner William Knowles on piano, Tony Addison on drums, Yusef Chisholm on bass and David Cole on guitar.
Danny Holgate, longtime conductor and arranger for Cab Calloway, scores the musical arrangements that provide the authentic blues club atmosphere.
Putting the finishing touches on the crowd pleasing production are two-time Emmy winner Marilyn A. Wall with her costumes, and Dale. F. Jordan, whose set and lighting design effortlessly transforms the intimate theater into a multitude of cities and eras.
Due to a previous commitment, there will be a casting change on February
With this production of Cookin’, Artistic
Director Carolyn Griffin has reached a new level of success in bringing such a
gifted and talented cast and crew to the
Cookin’ at the Cookery is a musical tribute to an extraordinary woman who not only survived but triumphed over the Jim Crow era. It is a story that transcends races and generations, and without a doubt should be on everyone’s “must see” list.