- CHARITY BENEFIT
Tonya Pinkins one-night-only concert at 54 Below, August 27th at 9:30 PM was sold out. The crowd waited with baited breath for the Tony-winning actress to celebrate the life and music of Ethel Waters. The show was a taster of selections from her upcoming one-woman show written in collaboration with Dennis Courtney, called “Hurricane Ethel.”
“Come Up and See Me Some Time,” “Harlem on My Mind”/”Ole Man Harlem,” “Heatwave,” “His Eye Is On The Sparrow,” “Honey In the Honeycomb,”"I Got Rhythm,” “Lil Black Boy,” “Moonglow,” “Shake That Thing,” “Stormy Weather,” “Suppertime,” and “This Joint Is Jumping,” were just some of the selections.
Pinkins related how she was obsessed with Ethel Waters from the age of 15, reading all her autobiographies and collecting her albums and dreaming of bringing her to life on stage. Now, thirty-five years later she brings the first international superstar of any race back to life and mind in this thoroughly entertaining evening.
Tonya Pinkins proved why she earned her Tony Awards for “Jelly’s Last Jam” and “Caroline or Change.” Her acting is exquisite, though for me at times the notes were too thin, but not knowing Ms. Waters voice I tend to think it was more the style as Tonya does have a set of pipes.
Her musical director Barry Levitt brought terrific accompaniment, as did Waldren Ricks on the trumpet and her bass player Dick Sarpola. My favorite piece of the whole night was her encore “The Gift,” written by the writer of the movie and now Broadway Tony winner “Once.”
54 Below is located at 254 West 54th Street and if you have not been, this is a venue that has some of the hottest Broadway talent around.