‘Sophisticated Ladies’ sparkles like New Year’s Eve for the Duke

 

(L to R) Chuckie Benson, Terri K. Woodall, Joey Stone, Madison Piner and Tristan Bruns in Rockin’ in Rhythm in Sophisticated Ladies at Porchlight Music Theatre. (Photo courtesy of PMT)
(L to R) Chuckie Benson, Terri K. Woodall, Joey Stone, Madison Piner and Tristan Bruns in Rockin’ in Rhythm in Sophisticated Ladies at Porchlight Music Theatre. (Photo courtesy of PMT)

 4 stars

A “Salute to the Duke” with concept by Donald McKayle, direction and choreography by Brenda Didier and Florence Walker Harris, “Sophisticated Ladies” celebrates  Porchlight’s 25th Anniversary Mainstage season by taking the big jazz band era of the Duke to new heights.

Featuring music by jazz composer, pianist and band leader Duke Ellington who composed thousands of songs during his 50-year career, the Duke is recognized as one of the most important composers in American musical history.

The show, a Porchlight Theatre production, takes the audience through Duke’s legendary career  with a treasure trove of hits, that include “Mood Indigo,” “Take the “A” Train,” “It Don’t Mean a Thing,” “In a Sentimental Mood” and “Satin Doll.”

It’s the fine ensemble of cast members who sing and dance their hearts out that make the show so exceptional.

Stand outs include Lydia Burke as The Danseuse who has a gorgeous soulful voice, Molly Kral as The Soubrette who holds the powerhouse of passionate vocals and Donica Lynn who takes charge as the Chanteuse.

Cheers also to Donterrio Johnson as The Jazzbo whose smooth moves steal the show and Lorenzo Rush Jr as the robust Raconteur.

(L to R) Joey Stone, Eustace J. Williams, Donterrio Johnson and Chuckie Benson in I’ve Got to Be a Rug Cutter from Sophisticated Ladies by Porchlight Music Theatre (Photo courtesy of PMT)
(L to R) Joey Stone, Eustace J. Williams, Donterrio Johnson and Chuckie Benson in I’ve Got to Be a Rug Cutter from Sophisticated Ladies by Porchlight Music Theatre (Photo courtesy of PMT)

The “Sophisticated Gentlemen,” just as suave and debonair, star Chuckie Benson, Tristan Bruns, Kaimana Neil and Joey Stone who’s tap dancing talents are over the top.

Kudos to dashing Jermaine Hill, music director, conductor and keyboards who leads the six-piece on-stage band.

Mention must be made of the exquisite costumes worn by the “Sophisticated Ladies” designed by Theresa Ham. They are dazzling and gorgeous; a joy to behold and worthy of their own star.

Hats off to set designer Angela Weber Miller who incorporates the complete use of the theatre, stage and surrounding stairs so the audience feels fully enveloped in the experience.

Bring your sophisticated ladies and gents to this phenomenal show and celebrate the music that’s got “all the swing!”

DETAILS: “Sophisticated Ladies” is a Porchlight Music Theatre production at the Ruth Page Center for the Arts, 1016 N. Dearborn St., Chicago, through March 6, 2020. Running time: 2 hours with one 15-minute intermission. For tickets and more information call (773) 777-9884 or visit PorchlightMusicTheatre/sophisticatedladies

Mira Temkin

For more shows visit Theatre in Chicago

 

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