L O C A L E V E N T
Ensemble Theatre Presents Black Pearl Sings!
Saturday June 16, 2012
By Edhat Subscriber
Ensemble Theatre Presents ??Black Pearl Sings!
A Joyful and Touching Story of an Enduring Friendship
Ensemble Theatre Company of Santa Barbara, Jonathan Fox, Executive Artistic Director,
presents the final production of the 2011-12 season, a limited engagement of Frank Higgins'
heartwarming new play Black Pearl Sings! Set in 1930s, this soulful story is filled with humor
and gifted solo a capella renditions of musical treasures rooted in the African-American gospel
tradition. A wonderfully entertaining experience for the whole family, Black Pearl Sings! begins
performances on June 14 at the Alhecama Theatre and will run through July 1, 2012. Opening
night is Saturday, June 16 at 8pm.
In 1935 Texas, Susannah, a Library of Congress song collector, discovers Pearl, an African-
American woman serving a life sentence in a Texas prison. In the process of trying to record
the treasure trove of spirituals and African folk songs that only Pearl knows, a bond is formed
that transforms race, class and culture. "Black Pearl not only sings, but soars," exclaimed
Broadway World. The Philadelphia Inquirer called the poignant play "an endearing examination
of women and race."
Ensemble Theatre is pleased to welcome director Patrick Mullins, Associate Artistic Director at
the Virginia Stage Company, who will be revisiting this play in a new ETC production. "The
music of Black Pearl Sings! is the music that I grew up with in rural Georgia," says Mr. Mullins.
"I find it fascinating to watch these women negotiate their hopes and dreams through music.
These two wonderful actors have an amazing chemistry together."
Jannie Jones will play Pearl. A singer since the age of five, Ms. Jones' career has taken her to
23 different countries and the stages of New York's Carnegie Hall, Madison Square Garden,
and Radio City Music Hall. Ms. Jones toured the Netherlands and the South of France with
Barry White and can be heard on his final hit song "Practice What You Preach," and Teddy
Pendergrass' CD Say It. She recently received critical acclaim in the National Broadway tour of
All Shook Up. On Broadway she performed in The Full Monty, Faith Journey and Mama I Want
to Sing. Regional productions include Garden City Blues, Crowns, That's Cole, All Night Strut,
It Ain't Nothing But the Blues, and Ain't Misbehavin', to name a few.
Jessica Wortham will play Susannah. Ms Wortham has twice worked internationally with
Ensemble's artistic director Jonathan Fox, in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof at the English Theatre of
Frankfurt and Crimes of the Heart at Vienna's English Theatre. Her regional work includes
numerous roles at the prestigious Trinity Rep, including Merry Wives of Windsor and A
Christmas Carol, in addition to Twelfth Night, Crime and Punishment at the Actors Theatre of
Louisville, and productions at Capital Repertory Theatre, Virginia Stage Company and San Jose
Repertory Theatre. Her New York work includes productions at the Public Theatre and Soho
Performances for Black Pearl Sings! run Tuesdays through Saturdays at 8:00 pm and Sundays
at 2:00 and 7:00 pm, with a special Saturday 4:00 pm matinee performance on June 23.
Subscriptions, single tickets and group tickets are available for this limited engagement through
the Ensemble Theatre Box Office at (805) 965-5400 or online at www.ensembletheatre.com.
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