African-American folk songs and spirituals will fill the Wells Theatre as Virginia Stage Company presents Black Pearl Sings! by Frank Higgins. The play will run January 17-February 5, 2012 at the historic Wells Theatre. Black Pearl Sings! is a co-production with Capital Repertory Theatre in Albany, NY, where the show will be produced March 9 – April 7, 2012.
Imprisoned for murder, Alberta “Pearl” Johnson is the living storehouse of dozens of songs passed down from her African-American ancestors. When Library of Congress song collector Susannah Mullally finds her, Pearl must decide whether to entrust the woman not only with the songs of her ancestors, but with her chance at freedom. The women’s stirring a capella songs touch the soul, as will the story of two strangers united by a common love. Songs include “This Little Light of Mine,” “Kum Ba Yah,” “Little Sally Walker” and more, most performed in their original folk versions.
“Through the story, we find out that Pearl and Susannah are both looking for something bigger in life -- and they’re finding it through the music they share with each other and their audience,” said Black Pearl Sings! Director Patrick Mullins, VSC’s Associate Artistic Director.
Jannie Jones is featured in the role of Pearl, and Jessica Wortham will perform the role of Susannah. Together, they appeared in San Jose Repertory Theatre’s much lauded 2010 production of Black Pearl Sings! Both Ms. Jones and Ms. Wortham are making their VSC debuts in this production. Playwright Frank Higgins’ Taste Test had its world premiere at VSC in 2005. His other works include The Sweet By ‘N’ By, which was produced with Blythe Danner and Gwyneth Paltrow, WMKS: Where Music Kills Sorrow, Gunplay and Miracles. Mr. Higgins has also written several popular plays for young audiences including The Slave Dancer’s Choice, Anansi The Spider and the Middle Passage, and The Country of the Blind.
AltDaily will sponsor the Dress Rehearsal of Black Pearl Sings! on Sunday, January 15 at 7:00 pm. The evening features light hors d’oeuvres at a donation of $10 per attendee. Preview performances are on Tuesday, January 17 at 7:00 pm and on Wednesday and Thursday, January 18 & 19 at 8:00 pm, with all seats just $25. Opening Night is Friday, January 20 at 8:00 pm. Regular performances run Tuesdays at 7:00 pm, Wednesday/Thursday/Friday at 8:00 pm, Saturdays at 4:00 pm & 8:00 pm, and Sundays at 2:00 pm through February 5. Tickets range from $33-$50. Students and active military tickets are $15 day of show, with identification presented at VSC’s Box Office.
Tickets may be purchased through by calling 800-982-2787 or at any Ticketmaster outlet, at the VSC box office, or online at www.vastage.com. Group discounts are available by calling 757-627-6988 ext. 358.
Now in its 33rd season, Virginia Stage Company is the region’s only fully professional resident theater company, serving an annual audience close to 80,000. Since its founding, Virginia Stage Company has made significant contributions to the quality of life in Hampton Roads: presenting more than 190 plays through more than 4,200 performances; revitalizing and renovating the historic Wells Theatre; providing educational programs for students of all ages; and preserving the legacy of live theatre for future generations.
Seasonal support for VSC’s 33rd Season is provided by Norfolk Southern Corporation. New Journal and Guide is media sponsor for the production of Black Pearl Sings!