If you want to be dazzled by gorgeous costumes, amazing singing, terrific dancing, and stunning sets, then head on over to Porchlight Music Theatre’s Sophisticated Ladies.
On Saturday I had the wonderful opportunity to go see an outstanding showstopper of lights, singing, dancing, and costumes. This was at Porchlight Music Theatre’s Sophisticated Ladies in downtown Chicago. As I watched it, I was completely taken back at the energy of this show. There were so many things I loved about this show that I don’t even know where to start. However, I do want to make sure that my readers understand what this show is. You see, this isn’t a play, or a concert, or a recital, or a musical. This is simply a tribute to one of the greatest musicians of all time – Duke Ellington. If you don’t know who Duke Ellington is, he is a world-renowned musician who has captivated audiences with his jazzy songs.
What I love about this play is the true “entertainer” vibe. There are big facial expressions and energetic dancing. The dancers encourage the audience to get up and clap and dance themselves. I had never seen such a bright enthusiasm for the audience to participate before. In fact, that was one of the best parts of the show. It was the performers’ hungry want for the audience to be immersed in a world they had never known. But I must say, they sure did their job. One thing that was very nice to see was that almost the entire cast African-American. It was nice to see some diversity.
You see, because this isn’t a “play”, there is no direct storyline. That’s right, this is just a collection of songs and dances that will make your very own heart sing. Another thing that makes this show stand out is the lack of dialogue. This show has very, very little dialogue. A couple words here and there to keep the audience entertained, and maybe some “acting” small talk between the actors in certain scenes. Interestingly enough, there is so much acting that one would forget that there are barely any lines! Other than that, it is simply one song or musical number after another.
“Another thing that makes this show stand out is the lack of dialogue.”Moriah Mitchell, Sophisticated Ladies: A Tribute To The Duke
Now let me tell you about the DANCING. Specifically, the tap dancing. It is absolutely superb. Every dancer is perfectly in sync with the next. The performers wore tap shoes for a good ¾ of the show. Almost every other song was paired with rhythmic tap dancing that matched the beat. The dancing also added a soulful interpretation of the song. There was also jazz dancing, swing, and a little modern interpretive dancing.
The singing was absolutely superb. Every song made me want to get up and join the cast on stage and dance with them! There was a great amount of scatting which I was definitely new to, but nevertheless it was very entertaining. In the end, the performers even broke the fourth wall and had the audience get up and clap, dance and sing to “I Don’t Mean A Thing”.
Porchlight Music Theatre’s Jermaine Hill portrayed the role of Duke with no acting, no dancing, and no dialogue. He just sat and played one musical melody after another. He was extremely gifted on the piano, and I definitely thought he was an extraordinary maestro. As he tickled the ivories, the live band sitting on the two-part set jammed with him.
I absolutely loved this play. You can very easily see that I took part in it with everything in me, and I honestly, would recommend this to any theatergoer. You don’t have to be a dancer, or a singer, or an entertainer. You just have to have a love for the soul.