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conceived, directed and

choreographed by

Maurice Hines

book by

Lee Summers

music direction by

William Knowles

Ella Fitzgerald, her cousin and traveling companion Georgiana, and her manager and jazz impresario Norman Granz tell her story both backstage and onstage. From a homeless street dancer to winning amateur night at the Apollo Theatre at the age of 15, from headlining with Chick Webb and his Orchestra at the Savoy Ballroom to performing Live at the Cote D’Azur, from discovering she could “scat” to mastering a new art form called “bebop,” the fascinating journey of this legendary artist. Featuring Ella’s most famous songs accompanied by MetroStage’s renowned musicians.

“If this woman was the greatest American singer, it was in part because she could turn any song into an oxygen rush of bouncing melody that reached the listener's ears as pure, untroubled joy…It's not just that her singing is beautiful. It is also liberating, transporting us into a realm of pleasure beyond all barriers, whether of race and age, of jazz and pop, of high art and low, or even, when she floats into scat, of language.” Frank Rich, New York Times, 1996

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FREDA PAYNE AS ELLA: FIRST LADY OF SONG

by Charlene Giannetti

Freda Payne remembers the first time she met Ella Fitzgerald. “It was the late 60s in New York,” she says. “Ella was appearing in a club called the Riverboat that was in the basement level of the Empire State Building.” Faye Treadwell, who managed The Drifters and had booked Freda on numerous occasions, invited her to the show. “Afterwards we went backstage because Faye and Ella were friends. I was totally in awe.

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THEATRE REVIEW: 'ELLA: THE FIRST LADY OF SONG' AT METROSTAGE

by Elizabeth Bruce

If you love Ella Fitzgerald—heck, even if you were born last week and are thus only vaguely familiar with Ella Fitzgerald (in fact, especially if you’re only vaguely familiar with her)–you must see this Ella: The First Lady of Song!  The astonishing vituosa Freda Payne brings the First Lady of Song to life with an elegance, a grace, a resonant beauty, and transcendent voice that captivates as Ella Fitzgerald captivated. Miss Payne...

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ELLA FITZGERALD: FIRST LADY OF SONG

by Susan Galbraith

When the spotlight hits Freda Payne in the opening number, its dusty light swirling around her evoking a club atmosphere, you could swear the first lady of song has been reincarnated. Payne not only sings in Ella’s key, she scats and lets her hands move as if pulling notes out of the air. Payne even looks like Ella, in great part thanks to the wizardry of costume designer Scotty Sherman, who has draped the trim songstress...

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METROSTAGE ELLA FITZGERALD: FIRST LADY OF SONG

by David Siegel

Get this destination into your car’s navigation system; MetroStage. You don’t want to miss out on the admirable production of Ella Fitzgerald: First Lady of Song featuring Freda Payne. This tight musical biography of Ella Fitzgerald, conceived and directed by Maurice Hines, is a tuneful journey into the timeless American Song Book as stylized by Miss Ella Fitzgerald. With the book by Lee Summers, the show charts Fitzgerald’s...

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'ELLA FITZGERALD: FIRST LADY OF SONG' AT METROSTAGE

by Bev Fleisher

The press opening performance of Ella Fitzgerald: First Lady of Song, conceived, directed, and choreographed by Maurice Hines, was a tour de force. I strongly recommend that anyone with an interest in early jazz, swing, be bop, Ella Fitzgerald, great vocals, or just having a great time in the theatre buy their tickets for this production immediately.

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SCATTING AND BEBOPPING THROUGH LIFE

by Charlene Giannetti

For two hours at MetroStage, Freda Payne became Ella Fitzgerald, taking the audience on an incredible musical journey, from the singer’s homeless beginnings in Harlem, to her being crowned the First Lady of Song. The show is a feast for fans of Ella and the Great American Songbook. Freda brings those tunes to life, singing nearly two dozen songs from an iconic group of composers. More than that, she shares Ella’s story...

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MAURICE HINES PERFORMS HIS "TAPPIN' THROUGH LIFE" AT ARENA STAGE AND THEN  DIRECTS ELLA FITZGERALD, FIRST LADY OF SONG AT METROSTAGE, OPENING JAN 23, 2013

METRO WEEKLY

INTERVIEW

WASHINGTON POST

ARTICLE

DCMETROTHEATREARTS.COM

INTERVIEW

ELLA FITZGERALD, FIRST LADY OF SONG FEATURED AT THE KENNEDY CENTER'S PAGE TO STAGE FESTIVAL

MetroStage participated in the 12th annual Page to Stage Festival at the Kennedy Center with a FREE staged reading of Ella Fitzgerald: First Lady of Song, book by Lee Summers, conceived and directed by Maurice Hines. On Saturday August 31 at 8pm on the Millennium Stage at the Kennedy Center MetroStage presented a staged reading featuring Freda Payne as Ella Fitzgerald, directed by Maurice Hines. Mr. Hines also read the stage directions...

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MetroStage is funded in part by the Virginia Commision for the Arts, the National Endowment of the Arts, and the Alexandria Commission for the Arts.

METROSTAGE - 1201 NORTH ROYAL STREET - ALEXANDRIA, VIRGINIA - 22314 - (703) 548-9044 - INFO@METROSTAGE.ORG

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