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'Queen of Blues' arrives in Seattle
'Queen of Blues' arrives in Seattle
Langston Hughes Performing Arts Center shines spotlight on Dinah Washington

Seattle Parks and Recreation's Langston Hughes Performing Arts Center (LHPAC), opens its 2007 - 2008 season with Dinah Was, a dynamic musical production that celebrates the life and times of jazz & blues legend Dinah Washington, which runs from Oct. 6 until Nov. 10. Hailed as the "Queen of Blues," Dinah Washington played hard and fast. She was the epitome of a blues diva who lived a tumultuous life - and was driven to sing about it.

Incorporating many popular songs from the singer's 20 year career, Dinah Was celebrates her remarkable and rocky journey from humble roots to headlining fame. Dinah Was explodes with the rhythms, tough breaks, and tender notes that fired the life and music of this passionate performer. Songs include "What a Diff'rence a Day Makes," "I Wanna Be Loved," and "Come Rain or Come Shine."

LHPAC Artistic Director Jacqueline Moscou directs Dinah Was and selected it as the Center's annual fall play to follow up on the highly successful runs of Lady Day at Emerson Bar and Grille, Death of a Salesman and last year's Diva Daughters Dupree. Moscou comments, "Dinah Was not only highlights the work of Seattle's African American theatre talent, but provides a backdrop for Langston Hughes Performing Arts Center to continue its mission as an important contributor to the vibrant cultural arts community. Seattle has a proven reputation for appreciating good music and good theatre. And that is exactly what they are going to experience with Dinah Was."

The inspiration for Dinah Was stems from a shocking incident at the Las Vegas Sahara Hotel. Nat King Cole had broken the color barrier before Dinah Washington but Dinah Was the first black woman to headline in Las Vegas. However, in 1959 African-American performers were not permitted in hotel rooms, and the racism that lingered spoiled the triumph of her achievement. And her lifelong struggles with weight, drugs, and love soured many of her other successes.

Written by playwright Oliver Goldstick, Dinah Was held its world premiere at the Williamstown Theatre Festival in 1995. After a successful run, the show moved on to the Arena Stage in Washington D.C., the Philadelphia Theatre Company, the off-Broadway Gramercy Theatre in New York, and an 11-week sold-out performance at the Coast Playhouse in Los Angeles. The Seattle premiere of Dinah Was at LHPAC will star Stephanie Hatley, (Black Nativity, Intiman, Fame Choir) as Dinah Washington; Felicia Loud (Native Son, Intiman) as Maye and Violet. The remaining cast members are: G To'mas Jones, as Boss and Chase; Ron Davids as Greenblatt and Spinelli; Nik Doner as Frick and Rollie; Owour Arunga, Tim Carey and Brendan O'Donnell are the dynamic musical trio that completes the cast.

The production team also includes: Tommer Peterson and Maridee Slater as Scenic Designers; Steven Deibert as Lighting Designer; Herbert Thompson as the Sound Designer and Deborah Sorensen as the Costume Designer.

Performances will be at Langston Hughes Performing Arts Center, located at 104 17th Avenue South in Seattle's Central Area District. Shows run Thursdays - Sundays at 7:30 p.m. with 2 p.m. matinees on Saturdays.

Dinah Was is appropriate for high school age and up due to strong language and some sexual content. Ticket prices are $22 for adults; $15 for youth and seniors. A special $2 discount is offered to groups of 10 or more. For Group Sales information call Naho Shioya; 206-386-1177. Tickets are available through Brown Paper Tickets:www.brownpapertickets.com or by calling 1-800-838-3006. Tickets may also be purchased in person at the Langston Hughes Performing Arts Center beginning October 5, 2007. For box office hours and production information call 206-386-1177. Interviews and photos are available upon request through Jennifer Rice 206-285-5175 or rice1234@yahoo.com.

Langston Hughes Performing Arts Center was established in 1969 as a dynamic and creative cultural arts center under the Model Cities, Urban Renewal program. Created to provide a cultural institution in Seattle's Central Area, as a place where arts specific to the African American experience could be taught, explored, expressed, and enjoyed by all, LHPAC has been at the core of experimental, cutting edge, traditional, and emerging art forms for more than 30 years. LHPAC became a program of Seattle Parks and Recreation in 1972. It has been a core gathering place for an African American cannon of work and a neighborhood that has seen numerous demographic changes over the past three decades. The Center remains committed to championing that voice and building powerful connections with the diverse cultures in our community. This is accomplished through the creation of dynamic performing arts experiences for all.

LHPAC partnerships with organizations such as: The Central District Forum, Seattle Public Schools, the Paramount, Showtime at the Apollo, Book-It-Repertory's "Bud Not Buddy", ReActs, Joy Luck Club, the Seattle Symphony, Earshot Jazz and many more have kept LHPAC an active and growing institution with an exciting future.

A LHPAC press release
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