“Queenie Pie” at The Oakland Opera Theater

Queenie Pie Dress Rehearsal 13

I had the pleasure of photographing the final dress rehearsal for the Duke Ellington musical “Queenie Pie.” I watched the first act of the play and thoroughly enjoyed it. I am hoping to go back this weekend to see the play in its entirety. “Queenie Pie” at the Oakland Metro Operahouse runs through Sunday, May 25. For ticket information, call 510-763-1146 or visit www.oaklandopera.org.
Oakland Opera Theater, applauded by local critics and audiences for its intimately staged, professionally produced performances of 20th and 21st century operas, presents local audiences with a thrilling first look at jazz master Duke Ellington’s only opera, QUEENIE PIE. Begun in the 1940’s and left unfinished at the time of Ellington’s death, QUEENIE PIE, the story of a Harlem beauty queen, was written as a tribute to Madame C. J. Walker, the first female African-American millionaire. Under the artistic direction of Tom Dean and musical direction of Deirdre McClure, Oakland Opera Theater has assembled an expert team to complete this jazzy opera gem, including renowned stage director Michael Mohammed, musical orchestrator and arranger Marc Bolin, and playwright Tommy Shepherd. Originally intended as an hour long TV special, this production will be set on a television sound-stage in the late 1960’s à la The Ed Sullivan Show, and will feature the live big-band sounds of the Marcus Shelby Jazz Orchestra. Bay Area chanteuse Amanda King, stage and film actress Kathleen Antonia, and stage veteran Noah Griffin star in this toe-tapping take on one of Ellington’s final works.
See more dress rehearsal photos here.
SHOWS: May 9-11, 15-18, 22-25; Thursdays-Saturdays at 8pm; Sundays at 2pm
WHERE: Oakland Metro Operahouse – 630 3rd Street
(three blocks from Jack London Square)
TICKETS: For tickets ($24 seniors, $28 advance, $35 at the door) the public can call 510-763-1146 or visit www.oaklandopera.org

The cast and the music were spectacular despite some of the uneven moments in the play. Some of the scenes did not fit well. The tv commercial break during the play felt awkward. They were used to provided the audience the concept of the play being tv drama. For example. there was a sudden commercial break up the scene when the main love interest for Queenie Pie and Café au Lait was shot dead by Cafe au Lait. This was an attempt to give you a “sitting on the edge of your seat” moment but it just felt out of place.
The first act flowed much better than the second act. The dream sequence in the begininng of the second felt out of place. Also, Queenie Pie did not have her solo until midway into the second act and just as soon as you got into the song, it was gone. She needed a song that would showcase her beautiful voice and pull the audience into her in the first act in the same way that Café au Lait’s theme song lingered in our minds throughout the play. There were also some uneven moments with the sound. If a cast member moved to certain spots on the stage, they could not be heard well.
Overall, the production definitely had its bright moments and with a little more polish, it will only be better.

2 Responses to ““Queenie Pie” at The Oakland Opera Theater”

  1. Manny says:

    Great event J… Will you be able to post some of the pics?

  2. Manny says:

    Great pics J! The show looks like it will be a blast!

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