Helen Hayes Award Winner to Perform in Falls Church This Week
Helen Hayes Award® Winner Carolyn Cole will appear at ArtSpace Falls Church beginning Thursday in Women of the Blues, an original blues music review celebrating the lives and music of some of the greatest blues divas of the 20th Century. Presented by Creative Cauldron and the Tinner Hill Heritage Foundation, and directed by acclaimed musical theater artist, Matt Conner, the show takes audiences on a soulful and sassy journey through some of the most memorable songs in the blues canon. Cole is one of a powerhouse quartet of versatile female vocalists in the show, including Helen Hayes Award® nominee Ashleigh King (Hairspray Signature Theatre), musical theater diva Shayla Simmons and Indie Soul recording artist Tarina Szemzo.
Women of the Blues previews Thursday, May 3 at Creative Cauldron at ArtSpace Falls Church, 410 South Maple Avenue. The show runs Thursday through Sunday nights at 7:30 pm through May 20. Opening Night is Saturday, May 5 at 7:30 pm. Tickets are $20 Adults and $18 for Students and Seniors. Tickets can be purchased on-line at www.creativecauldron.org or by calling 571-239-5288.
Carolyn Cole was seen most recently in Signature Theatre’s critically acclaimed production of Hairspray. Last week, she received a Helen Hayes Award for Outstanding Lead Actress for her portrayal of the irrepressible teenager/ dance show wannabe Tracey Turnblad. Carolyn has also appeared locally with the No Rules Theatre Company in The Stephen Schwartz Project (Soloist) and You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown (Lucy) and in touring productions of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat with Donny Osmond, and Martha Speaks, (Martha). Her cabaret credits include Carolyn in the City and Monday Nights, New Voices, (at the Duplex) and An Evening with Carolyn Cole. She has also lent her voice to recordings, television trailers, ball games and staged readings.
Ashley King was seen most recently scene as Dynamite in Signature Theatre’s production of Hairspray. She also understudied and took over the role of MotorMouth in the show during the final week of the run. Ashleigh’s other Washington, DC area credits include the Kennedy Center; Brothers of the Knight, Pearl, Pepito’s Story, Dreams, Joffrey Ballet of Chicago’s The Nutcracker; Olney Theatre: Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Grease, Aida, White Christmas, Cats, Damn Yankees, 42nd Street, Peter Pan South Pacific, Witness for the Prosecution, and Chicago.
Shayla Simmons has appeared locally at Toby’s Dinner Theater as Deena Jones in Dreamgirls, Pinkett in Happy Days “New Musical”, Nehebka in Aida, Stepmother in Into the Woods, Evillene in The Wiz, and in Duke Ellington’s Sophisticated Ladies, and as Aretha Franklin, Diana Ross, and Tina Turner, in Beehive. For the latter, Maryland Theatre Guide praised Shayla Simmons stops the show with Natural Woman” a song made famous by Aretha Franklin. Shayla is a graduate of the American Musical and Dramatic Academy in New York City. In 2004, she received the regional NAACP ACT-SO award for Best Actress.
Tarina Szemzo is an indie soul recording artist from Washington, DC by way of Hungary, who has created her own sound, fusing a variety of musical flavors. She spent most of her childhood mixing it up between the urban R&B/Hip Hop community and the quiet, laid back Hungarian countryside. Singing soul music finally became her passion, and she has performed at numerous DC venues including the Kennedy Center, the Old Post Office Pavilion, The Omni Shoreham Hotel and in a weekly gig at Stars. Tarina has performed with The National Symphony Orchestra, and with Composer Marvin Hamlisch, and toured Europe with Indie musician Tibor Szemso. Tarina has had the privilege to work and record with such musical veterans as cellist Dave Eggar, guitarist Thad Debrock, pianist Daniel Minsteris, and cellist Colette Alexander.
Matt Conner has been a teaching artist with Creative Cauldron for the past 11 years. A versatile theater artist who is an accomplished composer, performer, and teacher, last fall Matt made his professional directorial debut at Creative Cauldron with a Helen Hayes Award Recommended production of Nevermore. Nevermore, an original musical based on the writings and poems of Edgar Allan Poe, was first produced to critical acclaim at Signature Theatre in 2006. In 2008, Matt was one of six composers to receive Signature’s American Musical Voices: The Next Generation award funded by the Shen Family Foundation. Conner’s composition The Hollow, an adaptation of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow opened Signature’s 2011-2012 season.
Nikki Graves Henderson and The Tinner Hill Heritage Foundation are collaborating on the production, providing blues history and anecdotes about the famous divas and music featured in the show. The Tinner Hill Heritage Foundation is a non-profit organization with a mission to raise awareness of the contributions of African-Americans and other cultures to the development of Falls Church, Fairfax County, the United States and African descendants in the diaspora, by disseminating information and providing community services. In 2010, Creative Cauldron joined forces with THHF to create “Tinner Hill: Portraits in Black and White” an original work for the stage based on the stories of Falls Church’s early civil rights pioneers.
Creative Cauldron is a non-profit arts organization whose innovative programs in the performing and visual arts embody collaboration, experimentation and community engagement. Creative Cauldron was founded by Producing Director Laura Connors Hull in 2002. In June of 2009, Creative Cauldron acquired a permanent home at ArtSpace Falls Church, a 3,000 square foot flexible arts space that provides a venue for year-round classes, live performances of theater, music and dance and visual art exhibits. Programs are presented in part through grants from the Virginia Commission for the Arts, The National Endowment for the Arts, the Arts Council of Fairfax County and the City of Falls Church.
By Falls Church Times Staff
April 30, 2012