Thursday, January 17, 2013

BELIEVE IN YOURSELF: The Lena Horne Songbook

Local songbirds Stacie Calkins, Laurie Clothier and LaVon Hardison will salute the great Lena Horne in a one-night-only performance at Centerstage Theatre in Federal Way on Saturday, Feb. 16. It’s a world premiere and -- like I said -- one night only, so mark your calendars and be there.

Stacie Calkins
Laurie Clothier

LaVon Hardison
The singers will be backed by David Duvall’s eight piece orchestra, and the show will be staged in the style of the 1960s Las Vegas and Atlantic City showrooms in their heyday.

Lena Horne was a ground-breaking performer; the first African-American pin-up girl (during WWII) who defied stereotypes during her early career in Hollywood and who became a key public figure in the entertainment world during the Civil Rights movement and the Women’s Rights Movement. Among the popular songs recorded and performed by Horne included in this concert are: “The Lady Is A Tramp,” “Just One Of Those Things,” “Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered,” “Once In A Lifetime,” “Love Me Or Leave M,” "Can’t Help Lovin’ That Man”  and her signature song, “Stormy Weather.”

Horne’s career began in the famed Cotton Club in Harlem, where she worked as a dancer. This led to touring as the vocalists with the Charlie Barnet & Noble Sissle orchestras, which ultimately brought her to Hollywood where she achieved success portraying herself as a nightclub singer in many MGM musicals. When she refused to adhere to the strict career guidelines of the studio, she was put on “restriction” and not allowed to play the role of Julie in the 1951 re-make of the musical Show Boat and ultimately the end of her film career for many years. Lena moved into working almost exclusively in concert halls and nightclubs, becoming a favorite entertainer in  New York & Europe.

During the Civil Rights years she added  her voice and presence to the movement, doing everything from being present at the March on Washington to singing “It’s Not Easy Being Green” with Kermit the Frog on "Sesame Street."

STACIE CALKINS is known for outstanding musical performances on South Sound stages. She was my pick for best actor in a musical for her performance as Effie in Dreamgirls, and again for her role as Celie in The Color Purple. She has performed in Ragtime and was the Acid Queen in Centerstage’s production of Tommy, and she rocked the house in I’m Into Something Good, also at Centerstage. 

LAURIE CLOTHIER is an established nightclub, concert and musical theater performer whose career spans more than 30 years performing numerous one-woman shows at the celebrated Cabaret de Paris in Seattle. Among her theatrical credits are Cassie in A Chorus Line, Janet in The Rocky Horror Show, Sandy in Grease and as herself in My Way and Tenderly: The Rosemary Clooney Songbook

LaVON HARDISON's theatrical credits range from playing the title role in Shakespeare’s Richard II (re-named Regina II) to leading roles in Ain't Misbehavin', Intimate Apparel, The Full Monty and Jesus Christ Superstar. She has recorded three CDs, performing both originals and standards -- including her album of inspirational music called "Everyday Gifts." Olympia fans also know her has half of the singing duo Red and Ruby (she's Ruby and Vince Brown is Red).

The all-new arrangements and orchestrations for Believe in Yourself are created by long-time Seattle-based musical director/arranger David Duvall, who is also the Artistic Director for Purple Phoenix Productions, which has previously produced tributes to Billie Holiday, Patsy Cline, Aretha Franklin, Nat “King” Cole, Bobby Darin and Rosemary Clooney.

Tickets are $19.50. They are available at or by phone at (253) 661-1444. Centerstage Theatre is located at 3200 Dash Point Road, in Federal Way.

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