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Urban Stages Honors Musical Legends

NEW YORK - Urban Stages (Frances Hill, Artistic Director) is proud to present MUSICAL LEGENDS, a series of four unique, self-contained theatrical tributes, each celebrating the music and life of one of the following legends: Pearl Bailey, Kaye Ballard, Marlene Dietrich, and Nat ‘King’ Cole at Urban Stages (259 West 30th Street) from February 24 – March 13, 2011. 

MUSICAL LEGENDS is four 70 minute tributes, performed in rep over the course of two weeks, February 24 – March 13. They are:

Grand Illusions: The Music of Marlene Dietrich, starring Janice Hall, directed by Peter Napolitano with musical direction by Paul Trueblood and featuring Ritt Henn on bass.
Paying tribute to the life and legend of Marlene Dietrich, one of the true icons of the twentieth century, internationally renowned singer Janice Hall brings her acclaimed 2010 Metropolitan Room show to Urban Stages. Rather than impersonating Dietrich, Hall reinterprets many of the famous songs Marlene sang throughout her career by composers such as Friedrich Hollaender, Cole Porter, Lerner and Loewe, Fats Waller, Robert Stolz, Charles Trenet, and Pete Seeger, bringing to them the beauty and distinctive quality of her own voice as well as her considerable dramatic gifts. Peter Haas of Cabaret Scenes wrote: “Many performers have “done” Marlene Dietrich, but none has offered her songs more richly, more movingly and with lovelier singing than …petite and elegant Janice Hall.”

Special Kaye: A Tribute To The Incomparable Kaye Ballard, starring Gretchen Reinhagen, directed by Barry Kleinbort with musical direction by David Gaines and featuring Tom Hubbard on bass and Donna Kelly on percussion.
The ever ebullient Gretchen Reinhagen will star in Special Kaye: A Tribute to the Incomparable Kaye Ballard, which honors the vast library of musical material performed by, recorded by, or written specifically for Ms. Ballard, a star of stage, screen and TV for more than five decades, and still going strong. Winner of the 2009 Cabaret “Triple Crown,” (Nightlife, Bistro and MAC Awards), The Village Voice wrote “Reinhagen has the kind of strong, confident presentation that fits this tribute to the ever-hilarious Kaye Ballard.” Cabaret Hotline Online hailed it as the “MUST SEE, 5-STAR, show of the year.”

Pearl Bailey…By Request, starring Roz White with Gary Vincent, directed by Tom Jones with musical direction by William A. Knowles and featuring Mike Mitchell on piano.
In her tribute to Pearl Bailey, award-winning singer/actor Roz White has chosen many of Bailey's 16 Most Requested Songs, which she recorded for Columbia Records at the height of her career (including "St. Louis Blues," "Baby, It's Cold Outside," and "The Hucklebuck") and built an evening of marvelous music and memorable stories entitled Pearl Bailey…By Request. Originating at the Arc Theatre in Washington, D.C., the show has been produced by Metrostage in Alexandria, VA and The Milwaukee Rep Theatre. “Bailey's infectious sultry tones are underscored by her remarkable wit in an evening of memorable swing, jazz and Broadway show tunes.” The Daily Page.

Nat ‘King’ Cole: Unforgettable Smooth Grooves, starring Cleve Douglass, directed by Lee Summers with musical direction by Tony Romano on guitar and featuring Phil Palombi on bass, and Matt Kane on percussion.
One of the jazz world’s brightest lights, many liken Cleve Douglass’ voice to the late Nat "King" Cole. The New York Times said “Cleve… seems to be Nat King Cole reincarnate with a voice as silky as the lapels of his tuxedo.” Nat ‘King’ Cole: Unforgettable Smooth Grooves is Cleve Douglass’s tribute to some of Cole’s most memorable songs, using Douglass’ updated original arrangements. This is Nat as you have never heard him before.

Urban Stages’s Musical Legends Schedule:

February 24 -7PM Grand Illusions: The Music of Marlene Dietrich
Thursday - 9PM Special Kaye: A Tribute to the Incomparable Kaye Ballard

February 25 7PM Pearl Bailey…By Request
Friday 9PM Nat ‘King’ Cole: Unforgettable Smooth Grooves

February 26 - 7PM Nat ‘King’ Cole: Unforgettable Smooth Grooves
Saturday - 9PM Special Kaye: A Tribute to the Incomparable Kaye Ballard

February 27 -  5PM Pearl Bailey…By Request
Sunday - 7PM Grand Illusions: The Music of Marlene Dietrich
February 28 - 7PM Special Kaye: A Tribute to the Incomparable Kaye Ballard
Monday - 9PM Grand Illusions: The Music of Marlene Dietrich

March 1 7PM BENEFIT/DINNER featuring selections from all four shows
Tuesday with Cleve Douglass, Janice Hall, Gretchen Reinhagen
and Roz White.

March 3 -7PM Pearl Bailey…By Request
Thursday 9PM Special Kaye: A Tribute to the Incomparable Kaye Ballard

March 4 - 7PM Pearl Bailey…By Request
Friday - 9PM Nat ‘King’ Cole: Unforgettable Smooth Grooves

March 5 - 7PM Nat ‘King’ Cole: Unforgettable Smooth Grooves
Saturday 9PM Pearl Bailey…By Request

March 6 5PM Special Kaye: A Tribute to the Incomparable Kaye Ballard
Sunday 7PM Nat ‘King’ Cole: Unforgettable Smooth Grooves

March 7 7PM Pearl Bailey…By Request
Monday - 9PM Grand Illusions: The Music of Marlene Dietrich

March 8 7PM Grand Illusions: The Music of Marlene Dietrich
Tuesday 9PM Nat ‘King’ Cole: Unforgettable Smooth Grooves

March 9 7PM Nat ‘King’ Cole: Unforgettable Smooth Grooves
Wednesday 9PM Special Kaye: A Tribute to the Incomparable Kaye Ballard

March 10 7PM Special Kaye: A Tribute to the Incomparable Kaye Ballard
Thursday 9PM Pearl Bailey…By Request

March 11 7PM Special Kaye: A Tribute to the Incomparable Kaye Ballard
Friday 9PM Grand Illusions: The Music of Marlene Dietrich

March 12 7PM Pearl Bailey…By Request
Saturday 9PM Nat ‘King’ Cole: Unforgettable Smooth Grooves

Sunday (featuring performances from all four shows)

Urban Stages’ Musical Legends
Thursday, February 24th – Sunday, March 13th, 2011
Tickets are: Single Show $25.00, Double Feature $40.00

Tuesday, March 1st at 7pm

Who’s Who

Urban Stages is an award-winning, not-for-profit Off-Broadway Theatre Company founded in 1984 by Artistic Director, Frances Hill. Over the past 24 years, Urban Stages has produced over 70 productions (mostly world premieres) including Pulitzer Prize Finalist, Eisa Davis’ BULRUSHER (2007), two Drama Desk nominations, an Outer Critic's Circle Award, an Obie nomination, and eight Audelco nominations. Its productions of MEN ON THE VERGE OF A HISPANIC BREAKDOWN, by Guillermo Reyes, and MINOR DEMONS, by Bruce Graham subsequently moved to commercial theatres. CHILI QUEEN, a play by newscaster Jim Lehrer, transferred to the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. (1989). The majority of works developed at Urban Stages have had further productions commercially, regionally, and abroad. Numerous projects developed at Urban Stages have been adapted into film and television projects, including Scar, by Murray Mednick, Conversations with the Goddesses, by Agapi Stassinopoulos, and Cotton Mary, by Alexandra Viets. Last year’s Urban Stages production of LANGSTON IN HARLEM earned the company four AUDELCO awards including Best Musical Production of 2010 and a Drama Desk Nomination.

Peter Napolitano (Consulting Producer, Urban Stages Musical Legends) won the 2010 BMI Bistro Award for Outstanding Director and two MAC Awards: for Song of the Year (2009 - Lyrics), and Open Mic (2010 – Producer, Algonquin Salon), both shared with composer/music director Mark Janas. He has directed many outstanding cabaret artists at leading NY venues, including Feinstein’s at the Loews Regency, The Metropolitan Room, The Laurie Beechman Theatre, Don’t Tell Mama and The Duplex. His lyrics have been been performed by such artists as Liz Callaway, Nancy Dussault, Tovah Feldshuh, Marni Nixon and Faith Prince, among many others.. He wrote the lyrics for one of the last George Abbott musicals, Tropicana, book and direction by Mr. Abbott, produced by Musical Theatre Works, and is a member of the BMI Lehman Engel Musical Theatre Workshop. A veteran of the ground-breaking Off-Broadway Ridiculous Theatrical Company, Peter directed the early solo work of Charles Busch at the original Duplex, as well as Busch's first NY-produced play at Theatre for the New City. His personal essay, “Close Enough for Momma...,” was published in the NY Times Modern Love column, and his entertainment column, “What Was I Thinking?”, appears on

Janice Hall (performer Grand Illusions: The Music of Marlene Dietrich) is an internationally renowned opera singer and emerging cabaret artist. Ms. Hall has distinguished herself on the concert stage and in opera houses around the world, including the Vienna State Opera; the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden; the Salzburg Festival; and the New York City Opera. She starred as Violetta in that company's production of La Traviata, directed by Renata Scotto, an Emmy-winning "Live from Lincoln Center" telecast on PBS. Her recent appearances include the operatic version of Tony Kushner's play Angels in America, with the BBC Symphony in London; Street Scene, at the Kurt Weill Festival in Dessau, Germany and the world premiere of Jorge Martin's Before Night Falls, with the Fort Worth Opera. A CD recording of the Martin opera has just been released. Now applying her talents to the art of cabaret, Ms. Hall was one of five finalists in this year's Metrostar Talent Challenge at the Metropolitan Room, one of New York's premiere clubs. Writing about that contest, Beatrice Williams-Rude of Broadway After Dark remarked, "[A]ll the performers are sterling, some glitteringly; but one is pure, unalloyed gold: Janice Hall. She's sleek, chic and elegant in appearance as well as in the presentation of her songs."

Gretchen Reinhagen’s (performer, Special Kaye: A Tribute to the Incomparable Kaye Ballard) cabaret work has covered a broad range of material including a show of Great American Songbook classics entitled “Back to Basics”; a blues/rock show, “Almost Blue”, which featured an all female five piece band; a re-interpretation of Janis Joplin’s landmark album, “Pearl.” And a comic turn in “How ‘Bout Them Apples” The latter also featured the team of Kleinbort and Gaines and received rave reviews including a critic’s pick from Back Stage in which she was recognized as “performing with all the confidence and humor of a young Kaye Ballard.” She met Director Barry Kleinbort and Musical Director David Gaines while attending the Perry-Mansfield Performing Arts School’s Professional Workshop: The Art of Cabaret. Mr. Kleinbort and Mr. Gaines have each worked with some of the biggest names in cabaret including Jeff Harnar, Georga Osborne, Jamie deRoy, Penny Fuller, Karen Mason and Kaye Ballard. In addition to cabaret, Reinhagen is an actress, and voice teacher. She attended Pepperdine University on a music scholarship and received her B.A. in Voice Performance. She has since gone on to perform in venues ranging from the House of Blues in New Orleans to the Assembly Rooms in Edinburgh, Scotland. As an actress, she has performed such roles as Miss Hannigan in Annie, Nancy in Oliver, the Narrator in Joseph…, Janis Joplin in Beehive, and the Mother Superior in Nunsense – a role she shares in common with Ms. Ballard.

Roz White (performer, Pearl Bailey…By Request) is a actress, recording artist and teacher with over 20 years of experience in the entertainment field. A Washington, D.C., native, Roz graduated from both the Duke Ellington School of the Arts and Howard University. Her many theatrical credits include playing “Effie” in Dreamgirls (Nat’l Tour), Violet, One Mo' Time, and Bessie's Blues, for which she won a Helen Hayes Award for her portrayal of ‘Rhythm’. As a recording artist. she had two chart topping dance singles for the European label 'Slip n Slide UK'. Her first single "Bad for Me" was reviewed in Billboard magazine's 'New and Noteworthy column, touting her as a "House Mega- Diva ". Her follow-up single "A Little More Love" though recorded some ten years ago is still in rotation, and being played frequently on house music mixing stations to dateShe has worked with everyone from the late Ray Charles, to Michael Jackson, and has appeared on Major television shows such as The American Music Awards, and “The Oprah Winfrey Show.”

Cleve Douglass (performer, Nat ‘King’ Cole: Unforgettable Smooth Grooves) was born in Nashville, Tennessee, his mother was a big band drummer (Marie Brown) and was exposed to the music business at an early age. He began his early vocal training in classical (operatic) vocal technique which later bridged into musical theatre and eventually to jazz and improvisational ("scat") singing. In New York he was twice nominated Male Jazz Vocalist by Manhattan Association of Clubs ( MAC) for his work in night clubs and cabaret. He recently appeared on NBC Today Show with the show’s anchor Lester Holt on bass. For the past decade and a half, Cleve toured continuously in Japan working with some of that country's finest jazz musicians. His thirty-two tours in Japan have included numerous appearances in jazz clubs, concert halls, cultural centers, festivals, hotels, resorts, restaurants, universities, dance clubs, private parties, television and radio. His work in Japan includes two Blue Note engagements and regional tours with African percussionists from Senegal and allowing his to use his vocal improvisations to act the only "melodic" instrument in the musical multi-cultural mix. Cleve now lives in New York and does work with a number of bands, trios, quartets and big bands at venues such as private functions, night clubs, hotels, restaurants and recording studios.



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