(Cincinnati, OH) Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati (ETC) is pleased to announce the much-anticipated addition to its 2017-2018 Season, which already includes an impressive line up of leading contemporary theatre titles. In addition to the five titles previously announced, ETC will present the regional premiere of Larry Parr’s HIS EYE IS ON THE SPARROW, the powerful, heartbreaking, and uplifting account of the legendary Ethel Waters, who overcame a spirit-breaking childhood and racial injustice to become a legendary jazz and blues singer, Broadway pioneer, and Oscar-nominated actress.
Playing April 24-May 19, 2018, this musical biography will feature celebrated local actress and Ensemble Theatre veteran Torie Wiggins in the leading role, singing some of Waters’s most famous songs, including “Stormy Weather,” “Black and Blue,” and “This Joint is Jumpin’.” Sharing the stage in telling Ms. Waters’s remarkable story is pianist Scot Woolley.
Born in 1896 into abject poverty, Ethel Waters became a Vaudeville success and a recording sensation while crossing racial barriers to emerge as a Broadway and Hollywood star. However, a reputation for being difficult and her own distrust of those who might employ her or love her—largely a response to the unspeakable horrors of Jim Crow America—caused her to lose everything and become a recluse, until she found new strength from a most unlikely source. The music spans the decades of Waters’s career from the uplifting gospel spirituals of her youth to the blues and jazz of her 1920s Cotton Club days; plus “Frankie and Johnny;” the 1933 Rudy Vallee/Hoagy Carmichael classic “Old Man Harlem;” and Fats Waller’s “Cabin in the Sky,” sung by Waters in the hit 1940s Broadway musical of the same name.
“HIS EYE IS ON THE SPARROW is one of those titles that captivated me,” explains Producing Artistic Director D. Lynn Meyers. “I was looking for a show that was a bridge between the fascinating history of Red Velvet and the energy and excitement of Hedwig and the Angry Inch. This play not only showcases the remarkable music of Ethel Waters, but is also a great story about the transformative power we have inside ourselves to change. It seemed like a perfect fit.” She adds, “I am thrilled to have Torie Wiggins and Scot Woolley, two of our best local professionals, to be a part of this exciting project.”
About the Cast
Torie Wiggins (Ethel Waters) has appeared in Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati’s productions of Cinderella, Violet, The Mountaintop, and Black Pearl Sings!, among others. A graduate of the University of Cincinnati’s College-Conservatory of Music, she created three one-woman shows: Everywhere You Look, Everywhere Else You Look, and Torie on Ice. She co-adapted and performed another one-woman show, Your Negro Tour Guide, at various venues in Cincinnati and elsewhere. She appeared on All My Children and in the feature films Love Me Through It and Hallmark Channel’s A Christmas Melody, directed by Mariah Carey. Her voice can also be heard on numerous television and radio commercials. She appeared in Know Theatre of Cincinnati’s Pluto and was a Seasonal Resident Artist there, appearing in their productions of Collapse, Afghan Women Writer’s Project, and Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson. She also appeared in Cincinnati Shakespeare Company’s To Kill a Mockingbird and The Crucible.
Scot Woolley (Music Director/Pianist) has appeared at ETC in 33 Variations, Grey Gardens, and Souvenir (also at Vienna’s English Theatre). He created Broadway arrangements for State Fair, and Off-Broadway vocal arrangements for Tapestry, the Music of Carole King. Other ETC credits include 25 The Musical, Cinderella, The Great American Trailer Park Musical, Mack and Mabel, and Nite Club Confidential. He also composed the theme for Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade float in 2004. Playhouse credits include conducting for Rocky Horror, Candide, Carnival, as well as performing in the world premiere of Ace. National tours include Crazy for You, Tommy, and The Will Rogers Follies. Mr. Woolley’s orchestral arrangements have been heard in Atlanta, Portland, Indianapolis, Hong Kong and regularly with the Kentucky Symphony Orchestra.
Subscriptions On Sale Now
Subscriptions to the 2017-2018 Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati season are on sale now. ETC will continue to offer a 5-show Tuesday evening Preview Subscription for just $150 (excludes holiday production). Additionally, ETC has added an additional subscription series week. Regular subscription prices range from $218 to $242.
Student Subscription Options
ETC will continue is deeply discounted subscription options for students, with packages ranging from $110-$140.
All single tickets for the 2017-2018 Season go on sale to the general public on Monday, July 31, 2017 at 10:00 am. Subscribers, however, may start making exchanges, purchasing additional tickets, or reserving their FlexPass dates during Subscriber-Only Days, July 24-28 2017.
Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati is supported, in part, by the generosity of community contributions to the ArtsWave Campaign.
The Ohio Arts Council helps fund Ensemble Theatre of Cincinnati with state tax dollars to encourage economic growth, educational excellence and cultural enrichment for all Ohioans.
Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati also receives funding from the Shubert Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts.
Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati is a professional theatre dedicated to producing world and regional premieres of works that often explore compelling social issues. We fulfill our mission through our stage productions and educational outreach programs that enlighten, enliven, enrich and inspire our audiences.