Hidden Gem: Jazz “opera” re-envisioned

hair rollers

LBO’s ‘Queenie Pie’ celebrates the Duke, hot jazz and hair care entrepreneurism

Duke Ellington was a monumental force in 20th century American music, and his footprint has only gotten bigger since his death.  Although best known for a handful of his more than 3000 songs, Ellington’s interests were broad and his understanding of how to create meaningful music that moves people was very deep indeed.  He was no “mere” songwriter.

Queenie Pie is Ellington’s only work approximating opera, and was unfinished when he died in 1974.  The music is pure Duke, and the show is truly more theater than even operetta.  The work has been produced several times since then its creator’s demise, and this new production has been adapted by stage director Ken Roht to revive it with a couple of twists, using concepts of modern choreography to emphasize “movement-based storytelling” and to more closely examine contemporary issues of color tension within the African-American community.

Madame C.J. Walker The titular character, played by Karen Marie Richardson, is a beauty maven inspired by Madame C.J. Walker (right), a very real and very inspiring woman who made her mark around the turn of the 20th century.  The first female self-made millionaire, Walker made her fortune by creating and selling a line of innovative hair preparations, some of which are still available today.  Her entrepreneurial spirit and her support of civil rights, among other influences, have made her a continuing influence today.

If you can get tickets, be sure to catch this show before it leaves town — from here, this production goes to Chicago Opera Theater, running Feb 15 – Mar 5.


Long Beach Opera presents
“Duke Ellington’s only opera”:

Queenie Pie

 Libretto by Betty McGettigan
Additional material by Tommy  Shepherd
Adapted for LBO by Ken Roht

Two remaining performances:
Saturday, Feb 1, 8pm
Sunday, Feb 2, 2pm

To check ticket availability, click here
or call (562) 432-5934
478 W. 6th Street, San Pedro

 


Can’t make it?
Download the music:

Queenie Pie

Longhorn Music — MP3
(18 songs available)
Release Date: 2010-03-30

Our Price: $8.99

 

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