Arena Stage's Sophisticated Ladies

Not to long ago, I was posting about how part of having a successful theatre company is knowing what shows belong it what spaces. Well I can think of no better example of doing this right than Arena Stage’s current production of Duke Ellington’s Sophisticated Ladies. Sophisticated Ladies is a musical and dance concert that takes us through the oeuvre of jazz great Duke Ellington. There is no better location for such a show than where Arena has put this one, at the historic Lincoln theatre on U Street. Duke Ellington grew up in the U Street neighborhood; his childhood home is just a few blocks away from the Lincoln. Ellington played his first public concert across the street in the True Reformers building. And he performed at the Lincoln itself, in the ballroom the Lincoln Colonnade, which no longer exists.

As Maurice Hines and a talented cast of singers and dancers tap and belt their way through musical number after musical number, you can’t help but feel the pull of history surrounding you. It’s in the piece, it’s in the theatre, it’s in the neighborhood. You could even make a full night of U Street history by having dinner at Ben’s Chili Bowl, catching Sophisticated Ladies at the Lincoln, and dropping into Bohemian Caverns after for some late night entertainment.

3 stars
Through June 6


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