"The Divine One" (A Sarah Vaughan Revue) 

Black Ensemble Theater

"THE DIVINE ONE" (A SARAH VAUGHAN REVUE), Black Ensemble Theater. How do you re-create the essence of a great artist? Playwright Senuwell Smith comes up with an effective technique for showcasing the life and music of jazz legend Sarah Vaughan in this world premiere by telling Sarah's story through the eyes of her childhood friend, and later gal Friday, Medinah Davis. Rather than try to delve into Vaughan's mind, Smith makes Davis (played by the charming, energetic Pam Mack) the narrator, commenting on Vaughan so we know we're getting Sarah's story secondhand and are willing to play along. And since it's impossible to find another singer with Vaughan's unique sound, Smith splits the part into five Sarahs, each playing Vaughan at a different stage, from shy church girl taking the stage at the Apollo to the heartbroken lady who's survived several troubled marriages, racial segregation, alcohol, drugs, and career ups and downs while maintaining her strength and sass.

Director-choreographer Donald Douglass guides us on this musical journey through four decades; his staging is especially jubilant when all the actresses are onstage at once. As Vaughan, LaVondra Hinton, KaCynthia Thompson, Toi Overton, Samotta McKeever, and Vernetta Williams find wonderful moments in portraying Sarah's greatness. From the rich music of the live jazz ensemble to Smith's script, this revue is above all a celebration, not a strict biography of one of this century's greatest treasures.

--Gabrielle S. Kaplan

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Gabrielle S. Kaplan

Agenda Teaser

Galleries & Museums
Smoke, Nearby Museum of Contemporary Art
April 15
Galleries & Museums
The Art of Dr. Seuss Gallery Water Tower Place
June 16

Tabbed Event Search

Popular Stories

Follow Us

Sign up for newsletters »

 Early Warnings
 Food & Drink
 Reader Recommends
 Reader Events and Offers