Jazz singer and pianist Freddy Cole and his Quartet will be in concert Wednesday, February 20, at 7:00 p.m. at The Lutheran Church of The Ascension, 120 Bull St., on Wright Square. In carrying out the Legacy theme associated with this year’s festival, the Freddy Cole concert will be the precursor to a theatrical piece that will celebrate his brother, the late Nat “King” Cole.
The life and music of jazz artist and musician, Nat “King” Cole will be highlighted in an original theatrical work produced, written and narrated by Jewell Robinson for the Cultures in Motion series at the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery. The series uses the medium of portrayal to interpret the lives of the sitter via theater, music, and the literary and visual arts. “Unforgettable Nat King Cole – The Man and His Music” will be presented, Saturday evening, February 23, 2013, at 7:00 p.m. at the St. John Baptist Church, 522- 528 Hartridge St.
The play examines the life and music of the “King” whose mellow baritone voice and popularity as a big band artist and jazz pianist led him to become one of the first African Americans to host a variety show on television. Michael McElroy, broadway, television and film actor, portrays Nat “King” Cole. His broadway performance credits include Next to Normal, RENT, The Wild Party, and Big River (Tony nomination 2004, Drama Desk nomination. Television and film include All My Children and Rent Live on Broadway respectively. He is a full time faculty member and Head of Vocal Performance at the New Studio on Broadway in the Department of Drama at the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University.
Jewell Robinson is public program director at the National Portrait Gallery (NPG).
She conceives, writes, produces and occasionally performs in NPG’s Culture in Motion Series. A professional actress, Robinson has worked in New York and at virtually every professional theater in the Washington arena. She has received three Helen Hayes nominations for her work as an actress. In 2001 she won the Helen Hayes Award for her work in the Arena Stage production of Blue, a show she also performed in New York with Michael McElroy, where they received New York’s Audelco Award for their ensemble work in the Roundabout Theatre’s production of Blue.
Both the Freddy Cole Jazz Concert and the “Unforgettable Nat King Cole – The Man and His Music” production are free and open to the public.