Guest Author - Donna Ledbetter
“Performers—they must learn everything,” Hines says. “They must know tap, jazz, ballet, you name it. If you’re an artist, and you’re not working, you can’t pay your rent.” It is advice Hines gives to performers of every genre.
In Cool Papa’s Party, audience’s can expect the same artistic, free-spirited philosophy to permeate through Hines’s dance direction. “As a choreographer, I expect to show people excitement and fun. The audience should feel that they are part of the performance, rather than just sitting down looking at it.”
Hines also wants the dancers to give a great show. “I was raised to please the audience,” Hines says. “My mother always told me, ‘The audience has to leave having had a good time.’” A good time is exactly what you can expect, especially in the stellar performances of local, upcoming talents like Rosalind “Roz” White and William Hubbard on stage and William Knowles on the piano.
While some productions have rehearsal times that could span several months, the cast and crew of Cool Papa’s Party have limited time. “The cast for this production have to come ‘off book,’” says Hines, using a term from theater meaning that the cast must come to rehearsal already knowing their lines. With less time than what most performers have to prepare for a Broadway production, there is no time to waste. Even set designer, Carl Gudenius, feels the force of the time.
Yet for all its intensity, Cool Papa’s Party is a small production, one with enough variety to please the varied artistic yearnings of a man who has conquered Broadway. Hines also simply enjoys “giving back to the community” and working with directors and theaters that remain on the cusp of what is new in theater.
Carolyn Griffin has developed a sense for spotting new, innovative productions. “Over the years,” Griffin says, “I have developed access to the best authors, directors, and musicians. I look for works that are interesting and important, works that are entertaining and that have compelling stories to tell.”
Cool Papa’s Party tells the compelling story of a legend, and with a legendary cast and crew, this musical delights the senses.
Photo Credit: Top photo only: Colin Hovde; from left: 1st row Roz White, Andrew Manough, Gia Mora, 2nd row Ben Horen, Gary Vincent, Jahi Kearse