Guest Author - Donna Ledbetter
Duke Ellington’s Sophisticated Ladies chronicles the music of the legendary jazz player Duke Ellington. With original music written by Ellington and performed by a full jazz band, the musical is a sensuous production that titillates the mind and ears as much as it stimulates the soul. By the end of Act 1, there is not a person in the audience who cannot feel the energy coming from the stage. By Act 2, you will be asking for more.
The whole production is what a person might call “just right.” The lighting was right. The mood was right. The dancing was right. The location was even right. It takes just a moment standing outside the doors of the Lincoln Theater on U Street to understand why. U Street is to jazz what Harlem is to the Harlem Renaissance and both were like home to Ellington.
Today, a visitor can stand outside the theater and directly across the street will be the U Street metro, but look up and to the left and a mural giving homage to Ellington will appear. The enchantment of it all lies in the provenance, what antique dealers call that special something that makes a valuable antique so much more than simply old. It is the history that ties it all together.
It should be of no surprise that such a stupendous production was directed by Charles Randolph-Wright and choreographed by Maurice Hines. Both artists have an extensive and noteworthy history of credits. Also making quite an introduction to to the DC dance arena were two young brothers with charisma and toe-tapping feats reminiscent of the Hines brothers in their own early days. The two hail from DC public schools and are a local favorite to watch out for.
Duke Ellington's Sophisticated Ladies runs now through May 30 in Washington, DC.