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Spectacular is one word that can sum up The Fulton Theatre’s production of Duke Ellington’s Sophisticated Ladies!
The show opened up with an overture by the exceptional on-stage orchestra. The big band sound wowed the crowd with their musical talent and set the mood for the exciting night ahead.
Ellington’s greatest hits were beautifully orchestrated and accompanied by breath-taking dance numbers that were influenced by twentieth-century dances such as the Charleston and various types of swing and tap dance. The smooth sound of the on-stage orchestra added to the look and feel of the show, throwing the audience back to a 1930s nightclub and dance floor.
Sophisticated Ladies features many of Ellington’s hit songs, including It Don’t Mean a Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing), In A Sentimental Mood, Kinda Dukish, and, Echoes of Harlem. Songs that call to life an era and sound long gone from the music scene.
The Fulton’s take on the tune Kinda Dukish left the whole house buzzing. From the beats of the taps on the stage to the vintage costumes, it was all a show-stopping number that left us wanting more.
The vibrant costumes of the cast went hand in hand with the music and scenes, both styled with pops of pastel colors and old-school charm. Glittering gowns, colorful zoot suits, and sequined flapper dresses drew the eye, while the fast-paced dance moves created a beautiful blur of sparkle and color across the stage.
The ensemble’s vocals soared high into the theatre’s rafters with gusto as expected from a cast featuring former Broadway actor E. Faye Butler, Jim Hogan, Felicia Fields, and Carissa Gaughran. The songs, I Got It Bad and That Ain’t Good and Mood Indigo—performed by Butler and Fields as a duet—stunned the audience with their smoky and emotional vocals. The powerful performance took our breath away and drew hearty applause from the audience as well.
Sophisticated Ladies certainly had its sultry moments with steamy performances by Carissa Gaughran singing Hit Me With a Hot Note and Watch Me Bounce and not to mention the magnetic dance scene based around the songs Drop Me Off In Harlem and Echoes of Harlem.
The cherry on top for this spectacular show was the final scene when the entire cast performed It Don’t Mean a Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing). The comradery and chemistry between the cast bloomed on stage while they performed their final song and dance.
The high energy of the cast, fast-paced swing, and spirited jazz music made this show unique from other performances. The diversity in Sophisticated Ladies in the vocals and dance styles brought to life the true essence of Duke Ellington’s music and the nostalgia of the twentieth century.
Sophisticated Ladies was directed by Marc Robin and choreographed by Kenny Ingram, Marc Robin, and Mark Stuart. For a complete list of the talented directors, producers, cast, designers, and more, head over to The Fulton’s cast page for Sophisticated Ladies!