t's a special weekend May 13 through 15 at Springfield Contemporary Theatre Center Stage in Wilhoit Plaza (corner of Pershing and Robberson downtown). Following her sold out Sunday Songbook engagement last September 13--her birthday by the way--Johnnie Angelia King (who has starred in Ain’t Misbehavin and Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill at SCT) returns in an encore weekend of performances. A great selection of blues, Broadway and gospel in the most intimate concert venue in the area. Three performances: Friday and Saturday May 13 and 14 at 7:30pm and Sunday the 15th at 7pm.
The Songbook Series concerts started during Springfield Contemporary Theatre's 20th anniversary, says Managing Artistic Director Rick Dines. "Because of personnel, we were opening the season with two musicals and closing the season with a musical... and the whole middle chunk of the season was like, seven plays in a row. So we didn't want to lose the audience that was coming to the theater for music performance as well. The last two shows we had done before we moved into our new space (from the Vandivort Center to Wilhoit Plaza) were these revues we were doing out at Nonna's (Italian-American Cafe South). So we were building up an audience just for music, and trying to figure out how to keep them coming and involved." The Sunday Songbook Series is designed to focus on performers in Southwest Missouri's greater theater community to allow them to showcase "things they're doing besides theater"--especially music.
With Angelia in studio with us we played an excerpt from "Mansion Over the Hilltop," a track on her new CD, "Then Sings My Soul: Songs That Feed the Faith". Describing how it came about, she says "a friend of mine asked me if I would consider doing a gospel CD, and I said, 'well, sure.' And he said, 'Well, how about if I give you some songs'--because some of the songs on the CD I had never really heard of before. But after getting the music and looking at them I started saying, 'I LOVE this! Can I... may I... do these songs MY way?' And they said 'of course.' So I love jazz--jazz singer I am!--and Barry Stacy was my accompanist on the CD along with a handful of other people like Randy 'Cool Daddy' Clair on standup bass; Caleb Marshall, a university student playing cello--he's fantastic! And I had another friend, Dennis Holmes, who is the producer for the CD, and he'll be playing acoustic guitar for the 'Amazing Grace' songs ["Amazing Grace" and "Amazing Grace 'On the Porch'"]. And it's just going to be an array of friends, and... I'm just at a loss for words, I'm so excited about it!" She does nearly all the backup vocal choruses on the CD as well--Rick Dines jokes, "What's surprising is, she does them all in the show too!" "If only I could split myself into about six people, ah yes, the harmonies would be fantastic!" adds Angelia. (Randy Clair provided the male/bass voice for the backup vocals.) "It was an amazing time, a good 92 hours of studio time trying to get it all done."
For her three-performance Showcase Series at SCT Center Stage, Angelia will have a slightly different lineup of accompanying players (and song lists) each of the three evenings. She'll be joined by members of the area blues band Sister Lucille--Jamie Holdren and Kimberly Dill--and Angelia will showcase blues and gospel, two of her favorite styles. They'll be joined by members of what Angelia calls her "Jazz Makers" band, including Jeff Gouge on percussion and Ernie Bedell Senior on electric bass, and Randy Clair on acoustic bass. Also, members of another band Angelia plays in, RH Silverwood. And on Saturday and Sunday they'll add trumpeter Mark Bruggeman. "It's a 70-minute show, and there is no intermission," says Angelia, who hopes people will try to come out for more than one night of the three-night run. Tickets are $15 adults, $12 students/seniors, with an $8 student-rush ticket a half hour before showtime with appropriate student ID. Call 831-8001 or visit www.springfieldcontemporarytheatre.org.