A singing, swinging tribute to Eubie Blake

Theater Review

April 07, 2007|By J. Wynn Rousuck | J. Wynn Rousuck,sun theater critic

"All this is in Baltimore," the recorded voice of the late Eubie Blake proclaims in Olney Theatre Center's Eubie! Excerpted from a vintage interview with the Baltimore-born ragtime composer and performer, the line is one of the production's many pieces of historical documentation - including projected photos and sheet music, as well as a lobby exhibit featuring the figure of Blake, seated at a piano, from Baltimore's National Great Blacks in Wax Museum.

But there's almost nothing waxlike about director/choreogra- pher Tony Parise's sprightly staging of this 1978 musical revue. Although a couple members of the nine-person ensemble lack pizazz, for the most part this is a lively tribute to the musician who - along with longtime collaborator Noble Sissle - created the first African-American hit Broadway musical (1921's Shuffle Along, represented here by such songs as "I'm Just Wild About Harry," "In Honeysuckle Time" and "If You've Never Been Vamped by a Brownskin").

Eubie! continues through April 29 at Olney Theatre Center, 2001 Olney-Sandy Spring Road, Olney. Tickets are $25-$46. Call 301-924-3400 or go to olneytheatre.org

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