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.
INNER VOICES 2014--'GRACE' AND 'THE OTHER ROOM'
Two solo offerings in this season’s “Inner Voices,” presented by Premieres, dedicated to bringing new musical theater to light, are “Grace” and “The Other Room,” continuing through November 1. The voices may be “Inner,” but they contain bursts of outer passion in the respective performances.
“Grace,” with music by Kirsten Childs and libretto by Charlayne Woodard, is performed dynamically by Andrea Frierson, who sings title character role. It is a tale of a successful writer who discovers that she is going blind and must struggle to triumph over this adversity.
As Grace, Frierson has a powerful voice and a sparkling personality, as she looks back on her life, referencing her mother and her strong father, and her feelings as a writer. A collection of canes are present as symbols, a sturdy cane epitomizing the strength of her father, and others stand-ins for the blindness that awaits her.