Clients Sample Headlines About/Contact
 
 
+ Infinite Variety Helps Make Tony-Honored Chicago Shakespeare Theater Special
+ Chicago Shakespeare Theater wins regional Tony
+ Chicago Shakes Wins Regional Theatre Tony/Osage County Gets Seven Nominations
+ Tony hawks
+ Craig Wright article in American Theatre

+ 'Ella' about the music, and a real trouper's star performance

+ That's why the Lady was a champ

+ Is She or Isn’t She? A tiny but intense production heightens the psychological ambiguity of The Turn of the Screw.

+ Writers' Theatre captures James' intimate horror in 'Turn of the Screw'

+ Eerie as ever, 'Screw' will mesmerize you

+ Above average Joe - Wily actor Foust pulls shenanigans at the Court

+ Chicago troupes hit road to spread good word

+ So If All The World's A Stage, What's On?

+ Letts knows how to write 'juicy'

+ Out of Africa: Plays at three local theaters span the African diaspora

+ About Face Theatre: Wedding Play

+ How 'Cymbeline' saved Chicago Shakespeare – Now, the troupe is staging the neglected classic again

+ Yando, Chioran, Cross Conjure the World of Cymbeline for Chicago Shakespeare

+ Stages set for new plays: Writers'

+ Stages set for new plays: Northlight

+ Making Northlight shine

+ A Matriarch After Your Attention, if Not Heart

+ Cast away: Erica Daniels's eye for talent is Chicago theater's secret weapon.

+ Atreus on the Plains

+ 'Osage County' a blast of truth and sin

+ August: Osage County

+ A dance of love and death in Oklahoma

+ 'Lookingglass Alice' is still flying high

+ Acrobatics, whimsy blend as 'Alice' returns
+ Lookingglass Alice" is back in Chicago
+ Lookingglass Alice' creates magical moments

+ Return to Wonderland

+ 5 minutes with Lauren Hirte

+ Lookingglass takes a fresh look at 'Alice'

+ Writers' Theatre featured in NorthShore

+ An Audience-Friendly Theatrical Town, Chicago Is

+ Steppenwolf, American Theatre Cover
+ Steppenwolf, American Theatre Cover
+ Steppenwolf, Where Magazine Cover
+ Steppenwolf, Chicago Tribune Magazine
 

That's why the Lady was a champ
THEATER REVIEW | Biography showcases talents of Fitzgerald, Butler

Publication: Chicago Suntimes
Published: December 7, 2007
Client: Northlight Theatre

By HEDY WEISS

New Yorkers are now gasping at the sheer bravura intensity of the acting in Steppenwolf's new Broadway hit, "August: Osage County." But they might be equally blown away by the musical side of Chicago-bred talent were they to catch E. Faye Butler's tour de force session in "Ella." This musical biography of master songstress Ella Fitzgerald, which opened Wednesday at Northlight Theatre, serves up more than enough brilliance by way of a single actress (and knockout backup band) to fill the stage of any theater capital.

With "Ella" you get two talents rolled into one seamless whole. First there is Fitzgerald, the peerless song stylist who made her way through the great American songbook with such extraordinary panache, easeful musicianship, impeccable diction and infectious scatting. Then there is Butler herself, with her range-roving voice and superb interpretive skills, plus the kind of (barely suppressed) glam glow and galvanizing energy that Fitzgerald well might have wished for in her private moments. Butler gives us a wholly believable evocation of Ella, but also lets her own megawatt personality shine.

Conceived by director Rob Ruggiero and Dyke Harrison, "Ella" comes with a book by Jeffrey Hatcher that efficiently connects the dots and songs. More crucially, the placement and pacing of the show's two dozen numbers is ideal, beautifully tracking Ella's complicated, pain-streaked life and career through songs that tap precisely the right emotion for the moment.

The show is set in a concert hall in Nice, France, in 1966. Ella, about 50, has just returned from the funeral of her beloved younger half-sister Frances -- the woman who, she tells us, knew her better than anyone else in the world, tried to protect her from a sexually abusive stepfather and, later, even gave her one of her seven children to bring up as her own (a responsibility she bungled). Though devastated by Frances' death, Ella's longtime producer-manager Norman Granz (David Parkes) tells her to soldier on, and she does, delivering a great deal more "patter" than usual.

Butler dazzles, whether on a rousing duet with trumpet on "It Don't Mean a Thing (If It Ain't Got That Swing)"; on a Carnegie Hall special, "You'll Have to Swing It (Mr. Paganini)"; on a scat-crazy "Flying Home"; on an unusually angry version of "That Old Black Magic," or on heartbreaking renditions of "S'Wonderful" and "The Man I Love." And that's just the tip of the iceberg. The band is every bit as stellar (even doing some acting chores), with Ron Haynes a beguiling powerhouse on trumpet, Anderson Edwards (pianist-conductor), Walt Kindred (percussion) and John Whitfield (bass). This lady is far more than good; so are the gentlemen.

 

Northlight Theatre continues its 33rd season with the Midwest premiere of Ella, featuring E. Faye Butler.
(Courtesy)

 

 
 

Cathy Taylor Public Relations, Inc. ©2011 | Contact