Black Pearl Sings!Date: Thu, June 14th 2012 - Sun, July 1st 2012
External Link: Event Website
Location: Ensemble Theatre Company
Ensemble Theatre Presents
Black Pearl Sings!
A Joyful and Touching Story of an Enduring Friendship
Ensemble Theatre Company of Santa Barbara, Jonathan Fox, Executive Artistic Director, presents the final production of the 2011-12 season, a limited engagement of Frank Higgins’ heartwarming new play Black Pearl Sings! Set in 1930s, this soulful story is filled with humor and gifted solo a capella renditions of musical treasures rooted in the African-American gospel tradition. A wonderfully entertaining experience for the whole family, Black Pearl Sings! begins performances on June 14 at the Alhecama Theatre and will run through July 1, 2012. Opening night is Saturday, June 16 at 8pm.
In 1935 Texas, Susannah, a Library of Congress song collector, discovers Pearl, an African-American woman serving a life sentence in a Texas prison. In the process of trying to record the treasure trove of spirituals and African folk songs than only Pearl knows, a bond is formed that transforms race, class and culture. “Black Pearl not only sings, but soars,” exclaimed Broadway World. The Philadelphia Inquirer called the poignant play “an endearing examination of women and race.”
Ensemble Theatre is pleased to welcome director Patrick Mullins, Associate Artistic Director at the Virginia Stage Company, who will be revisiting this play in a new ETC production. “The music of Black Pearl Sings! is the music that I grew up with in rural Georgia,” says Mr. Mullins. “I find it fascinating to watch these women negotiate their hopes and dreams through music. These two wonderful actors have an amazing chemistry together.”
Frank Higgins’ plays have been seen in New York, and across the country at the Williamstown Theater Festival, the Old Globe Theatre, Ford’s Theater, Chicago’s Northlight Theatre, San Jose Repertory Theatre, Kansas City Repertory Theater, Inter-Act Theater in Philadelphia, and many other venues. He wrote Black Pearl Sings! as an outgrowth of his interest in American roots music. He is also the author of The Sweet By 'n' By, which was produced with Tony-winner Blythe Danner and Oscar-winner Gwyneth Paltrow.
Jannie Jones will play Pearl. A singer since the age of five, Ms. Jones’ career has taken her to 23 different countries and the stages of New York’s Carnegie Hall, Madison Square Garden, and Radio City Music Hall. Ms. Jones toured the Netherlands and the South of France with Barry White and can be heard on his final hit song “Practice What You Preach,” and Teddy Pendergrass’ CD Say It. She recently received critical acclaim in the National Broadway tour of All Shook Up. On Broadway she performed in The Full Monty, Faith Journey and Mama I Want to Sing. Regional productions include Garden City Blues, Crowns, That’s Cole, All Night Strut, It Ain’t Nothing But the Blues, and Ain’t Misbehavin’, to name a few.
Jessica Wortham will play Susannah. Ms Wortham has twice worked internationally with Ensemble’s artistic director Jonathan Fox, in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof at the English Theatre of Frankfurt and Crimes of the Heart at Vienna’s English Theatre. Her regional work includes numerous roles at the prestigious Trinity Rep, including Merry Wives of Windsor and A Christmas Carol, in addition to Twelfth Night, Crime and Punishment at the Actors Theatre of Louisville, and productions at Capital Repertory Theatre, Virginia Stage Company and San Jose Repertory Theatre. Her New York work includes productions at the Public Theatre and Soho Rep.
Ensemble Theatre Company of Santa Barbara was founded in 1979 and is housed at the intimate Alhecama Theatre located in the historic Presidio District in downtown Santa Barbara at 914 Santa Barbara Street. Now celebrating its 32nd anniversary season, under the leadership of Executive Artistic Director Jonathan Fox, ETC is Santa Barbara's longest running, award-winning professional resident theatre company.
Performances for Black Pearl Sings! run Tuesdays through Saturdays at 8:00 pm and Sundays at 2:00 and 7:00 pm, with a special Saturday 4:00 pm matinee performance on June 23. Subscriptions, single tickets and group tickets are available for this limited engagement through the Ensemble Theatre Box Office at (805) 965-5400 or online at www.ensembletheatre.com.