Review: Lena Horne Project at the Walker 

*****
click to enlarge Mary Wilson as Lena Horne
  • Mary Wilson as Lena Horne

Mary Wilson, of the legendary Supremes, possessed the stage in a succession of gorgeous gowns last night at the Walker, performing lush renditions of Lena Horne's signature songs as part of The Lena Horne Project. Author/playwright James Gavin narrated the "living, breathing biography" he lovingly crafted to show the many facets of Horne's life and career.

Still photos projected on a backdrop along with film clips and newsreels brought told Horne's success story, moving from the Cotton Club to MGM's studios, from Las Vegas to the Waldorf Astoria Empire Room, and ultimately to Carnegie Hall and the comeback concerts that made her a household name across generations.

Her signature "Stormy Weather" encapsulated a central fact of her life: that her reluctant stardom was achieved against a background of rampant racism. Miss Horne could sing for the elite but she could not live next door to them. Gavin's tribute doesn't mince on reality, using anecdotes to make the point that while Horne's life appeared glamorous, she wrestled with the rage of a dream deferred. As a civil rights activist, she recognized she could "hardly could sing, "Let My People go" while wearing a $1,000 dress."

Such was the dichotomy, yet her fierceness of determination to succeed shaped her philosophy of taking personal responsibility: "If you believe in yourself I will believe in you." With an excellent on-stage trio - piano, bass, drums - the tribute brought home the work we still need to do to build a just society. The show was based on Gavin's 2009 biography of Horne, Stormy Weather, published by Simon & Schuster. Nov. 15 at the Madame Walker Theatre

Latest in Theater + Dance

  • One Slight Hitch at Theatre on the Square
  • One Slight Hitch at Theatre on the Square

    There aren't a lot of surprises, though it's all fluffily enjoyable - and Lewis Black sneaks in a couple zingers that remind us he's also a comedian.
    • Apr 22, 2014
  • SPUN at Phoenix Theatre
  • SPUN at Phoenix Theatre

    The songs from a new, Bloomington-born musical are electrifying and provocative, but the whole thing is weighted down by cheesy, melodramatic dialogue.
    • Apr 21, 2014
  • Bloomington and Indy team up on rock musical
  • Bloomington and Indy team up on rock musical

    Bloomington Playwrights Project and Phoenix Theatre are partnering on Spun, a new musical about squabbling siblings running April 17-May 11 at Phoenix.
    • Apr 16, 2014
  • More »

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Feedback

Recent Comments

  • Censoring burlesque
    This is bullshit. But it was only a matter of time. If the city of…
  • Censoring burlesque
    This is great advertising and for the burlesque troupe. "Let' go see the half-naked girls".

Reader Reviews

More by Rita Kohn

  • Local World Beer Cup winners announced

    Three Indiana breweries brought home medals from the 2014 World Beer Cup Competition: Carsons Brewery, Sun King and Thr3e Wise Men.
    • Apr 17, 2014
  • Beer Buzz: Sun King's Addams Family brew

    Sun King's Cara Mia will make its debut April 23 at the Alfred Glossbrenner Mansion, as part of an Indiana Landmarks benefit for the restoration of the 1910 building.
    • Apr 16, 2014
  • More »

© 2014 NUVO | Website powered by Foundation