Thursday, September 6, 2012

Tonya Pinkins Says Don't Give Up

On August 6th, Playbill posted an article that Tonya Pinkins would be starring in Larry Parr's Ethel Waters: His Eye Is On the Sparrow at the Luna Stage in NJ. Excited, I geared up to purchase tickets to hear the Tony Award winning actress sing once again on stage only to learn a few days later on August 11th that the production was cancelled; an abrupt message posted on the Luna Stage website stated "The reasons for the cancellation have nothing to do with Luna, but apparently with some internal contractual concerns among the producing parties." Wow, within one week, the show was announced and cancelled.  

Luckily, "Sweet Anita" lovers like me would still have an opportunity to hear Ms. Pinkins sing at New York's newest Broadway cabaret club. The 54 Below website touted that Ms. Pinkins' first concert since 2005 would "feature Tonya singing signature anthems: Broadway showstoppers and Billboard chart toppers from Sondheim to Schwartz, Alanis to Adele, Cold Play to Carrie Underwood. 

This however was not the show that cabaret lovers eventually saw on August 27th. Instead the glowing 50 year old Ms. Pinkins treated her audience to a one woman show she co-wrote looking back at the life of legend Ethel Waters. She regaled us with classics such as Heatwave, Stormy Weather, This Joint is Jumping, and the unforgettable Suppertime, which brought tears to her eyes. Overall, the show was quite nice and perhaps theaterlovers will have a chance to see a more developed Ethel Waters musical in the near future.

For an encore, Ms. Pinkins sang a song about not giving up. The elated Ms. Pinkins recently won a slander legal battle (Pinkins v Stempinski et al) which has been going on for a few years at a significant cost to her. Hearing this talented woman who once lost custody of her kids in a bitter battle, had her wages garnished, and ended up on public assistance after winning a Tony Award, I felt her joy and strength. I felt like I was truly in presence of a woman who does not give up.

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