Broadway performer, jazz vocalist, and writer Andrea Frierson journeys back to her beginnings as a young singer enamored of Ella Fitzgerald in New York City during the 1960’s. me & ella is both a singer’s coming of age story as well as a valentine to the First Lady of Song. Through the prism of Andrea’s unique world of opera singing parents, style-conscious service workers, Negro League pitchers, Bronx beauty shops, new Manhattan high-rises, and popular 60’s tv shows, she traces Ella’s meteoric rise from young band singer to American icon through many of the songs that defined her career. Directed by Tony award-winning team of Murphy Cross & Paul Kreppel, with Music Supervision and Arrangements by Ron Abel.
Inner Voices New Musicals To Inspire
Posted by Suzanna Bowling
Date: Wednesday, October 15, 2014
in: ENTERTAINMENT, Music, Off Broadway and Off-Off Broadway, Theatre
Andrea Frierson in GRACE
One of the most exciting evenings in musical theater is happening at TBG Theatre by Premieres, whose mission is “to bring new musical theatre to light.” These shows under a banner called Inner Voices are two one-person musicals/ operettas called Grace and The Other Room. They are vastly different in tone, but both are well acted.
Grace is by musical theatre veteran Charlayne Woodard with music by established playwright Kirsten Childs (How The Bubbly Black Girl Sheds Her Chameleon Skin). This tale is haunting and at the same time hopeful. We learn how an award-winning novelist, Grace Monroe, wonderfully portrayed by Andrea Frierson loses her sight. In leaning how to cope, she revisits her past, present and future. The music is very reminiscent of Adam Guettel, Michael John LaChiusa with hints of Joni Mitchel. It is refreshing, semi-operatic, completely sung through and exciting. Ms. Frierson has a voice that is very much like Audra McDonald’s but with a solid bottom that adds even more depth. Her portrayal of this prideful woman devastated at life’s curves is well directed by Shirley Jo Finney. Rona Siddiqui who plays piano and is the musical director starts the piece off first with bass by Maurice Belle then acapella. What a fabulous way to let us know there are times we are alone in our journeys. By the end of this piece I was so moved, I led the crowd in bravos and applause.
BWW Review, July 23, 2017
by Michael Dale
“…when Frierson sings, the evening sparkles.”
“Even if you've never heard a note sung by Ella Fitzgerald, Andrea Frierson's duo-bio solo show, ME & ELLA, can be related to by anyone whose life was influenced by a popular artist they've never met.”
“…the show's strongest feature is the charming presence and the versatile singing talents of its star, and that's enough to make for an enjoyable night out.”
THEATER PIZZAZZ, July 16, 2017
by Sandi Durrell
The collaboration is strong between directors Murphy Cross and Paul Kreppel, Ms. Frierson and Mr. Abel…its got style and substance and a talented group of eager creatives.
THE BROADWAYBLOG.COM, July 19, 2017
by Ryan Leeds
“Tribute shows are done exponentially, but rarely to the level of quality demonstrated by Ms. Frierson in her warm and winning solo show, Me & Ella. Frierson is a Broadway veteran, having starred in major shows including Once on This Island, The Lion King, Bring in Da Noise, Bring in Da Funk and many others. She’s also a classically trained Shakespearean actor. Clearly, she has years of stage experience under her belt. Yet she possesses the type of skill that cannot be learned. It’s the type of natural talent that suggests, “Ya either have it, or ya don’t.” Undeniably, Ms. Frierson has it. She is not a Fitzgerald impersonator by any means. Instead, she lovingly pays homage to a lady who inspired her to become the dynamic performer that she is today.”
“Directors Murphy Cross and Paul Kreppel lend gentle touches to both the material and their leading lady by keeping the memoir floating along at a brisk 80-minute pace. As it stands now, it is in excellent form. Simple projections complement the show and, should the show flourish to a larger scale, Frierson would be wise to maintain her musical ensemble. Throughout the show, Frierson repeats one of her favorite quotes from Fitzgerald: “The only thing better than singing, is more singing.” Fortunately for us, Frierson delivers on “more,” leaving us with renewed appreciation for music and stellar talent.”