Producing Artistic Director Carolyn Griffin is pleased to announce the return of Helen Hayes Award winning actor and MetroStage favorite, Bernardine Mitchell, to MetroStage in the one woman musical, His Eye is on the Sparrow, based on the life of Ethel Waters. Written by Larry Parr, directed by Gary Yates, under the musical direction of S. Renee Clark, and accompanied by William Knowles on the piano and keyboard, the production will run from January 26th through March 20th. MetroStage is proud to welcome to its stage Mary J Millben, who will perform in selected performances.
His Eye is on the Sparrow is an inspirational musical about the life of the renowned African American, groundbreaking jazz singer and actor, Ethel Waters. From humble beginnings, she made her mark on Broadway (As Thousands Cheer -the first black woman in an all white cast-and Member of the Wedding -with Julie Harris, receiving the New York Drama Critics Award for her role), film (Pinky-receiving a Best Supporting Actress Academy Award nomination, and Member of the Wedding) and television. She is considered one of the most influential jazz and blues singers of her time.
Director Gary Yates' credits include performing in regional theatre, film and television and directing on stages across the United States. He is chair of the Speech Communication and Theatre Arts Dept. at Clark Atlanta University and directed Ms. Mitchell in His Eye is on the Sparrow last season at Theatre in the Square in Marietta, Georgia. He has also directed Blues for an Alabama Sky, The Piano Lesson, Hambone, Gee's Bend and many others.
Bernardine Mitchell is well known to MetroStage audiences having performed on our stage in both Three Sistahs (nominated for Outstanding New Musical) and Mahalia, for which she received the Helen Hayes Award with her portrayal of Mahalia Jackson. In both cases, she reprised the roles in second productions by popular demand! She performs internationally (Gospel at Colonus) and regionally: A Christmas Carol (ALLIANCE THEATRE), A Cool Drink of Water (Black Arts Festival), Bessie's Blues (Studio Theatre), Blues in the Night (Arena Stage, Helen Hayes Award), and many others.
Mary Millben will be performing the role of Ethel Waters for select performances. She has been seen locally in Crowns and Sophisticated Ladies (Arena), has toured for the Kennedy Center, and has sung at the White House, The Congressional Black Caucus, The Kennedy Center Honors, the Super Bowl, the National Symphony Orchestra and President Obama's Lincoln Memorial inaugural concert. We are delighted to be introducing her to our audiences.
At MetroStage S. Renee Clark has music directed and performed in Mahalia (twice) and was the music director for Bricktop. In Atlanta she has played piano or keyboard for Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris and Jesus Christ Superstar (ALLIANCE THEATRE), and has extensive music directing, performing, arranging, and composing credits. She has also performed world-wide.
William Knowles, who will be playing piano and keyboard for His Eye is on the Sparrow, was the composer and conductor/pianist for MetroStage's Award-winning Cool Papa's Party (he received the Helen Hayes Award for Outstanding Music Direction) and has played and music directed at MetroStage in numerous productions: All Night Strut, Ellington, Bricktop, Pearl Bailey...By Request, and elsewhere: Dinah Was (Arena Stage, Helen Hayes Award) and Tambourines to Glory (Lincoln Theatre, Helen Hayes nomination).
Performances for His Eye is on the Sparrow will be Wednesday, Thursday and Friday at 8, Saturday at 3 and 8, Sunday at 3 and 7, Jan. 26-Mar. 20 (no performances on Feb. 2 and no matinees on Jan. 29 and 30). Wed. Jan. 26 at 8 will be a PWYC. Press night is Saturday Jan. 29 at 8. For ticket reservations call 800 494-8497 or go online to www.metrostage.org. For information and group sales call 703-548-9044. MetroStage is located at 1201 North Royal St. in North Old Town Alexandria. There is a free parking lot and fine dining nearby. The theatre is handicap accessible.