STARRING TONY AWARD WINNER ANN DUQUESNAY AND DEBRA WALTON
ARKANSAS REPERTORY THEATRE
JANUARY 28 - FEBRUARY 14, 1999
STANDING OVATIONS EVERY NIGHT!
Marion J. Caffey’s Cookin’ At The Cookery is an uplifting and humorous musical based on the life of the blues and jazz legend Alberta Hunter. Centered around Alberta Hunter’s 1977 debut at The Cookery in New York’s Greenwich Village. The biographical and historical look weaves in and out of one of the most colorful lives in entertainment beginning in 1895 to her death in 1984.
Hunter, whose bold and sultry singing style bridged the gap between classic blues, hot jazz and cabaret-flavored pop, was the toast of American and European audiences in the 1920’s. Cookin’ At The Cookery follows Hunter’s meteoric rise to fame and her travels from Memphis to Chicago, New York, Broadway, Europe and beyond.
Cookin’ At The Cookery was originally produced at the Hippodrome State Theatre in Gainesville, Florida in June 1997 where it was sold out, held over! And received standing ovations at every performance.
Discovered By Jerome Kern, She Was The First "Queenie" In Showboat Opposite Paul Robeson
In 1911 a 16 year old Hunter caught a northbound train out of Memphis arriving in a land ofhustling, dancing, loving and killing — Some called it Chicago! The music born out of these potent ingredients was called the blues! In less than a decade, Hunter made the city and that music her own, performing for poets, gangsters, movie stars and pimps. She sang with Fats Waller, Fletcher Henderson and Louise Armstrong and earned the adoration of blues luminaries like Bessie Smith who recorded Hunter’s own Down Hearted Blues.
In her Paris debut in 1928, where she performed on the same stages as Josephine Baker, she landed the role opposite Paul Robeson in Showboat at London’s Drury Lane Theatre. Her musical career followed an upward spiral of success in British and American musicals. Hunter went on to entertain American and British troops as head of the first black USO in W.W.II and the Korean War. Following her mother’s death Alberta retired from show-business in 1956, "misplaced" twelve years from her age, went back to school and became a practical nurse. She never missed a day of work for twenty years! In 1976 she was forced to retire at what they thought was the age of seventy. The joke was on them. She was really eighty-two!
All it took was a phone call from Barney Josephson in 1977 to launch a stellar comeback the likes of which the world had never seen. Starting at The Cookery in New York she performed up to fifteen shows a week and went on to tour the world again. All in her golden years!