Terry Burrell stars in the world premiere of her one-woman show 'Ethel!'

Posted: February 20, 2012

HAROLD ARLEN and Irving Berlin wrote poignant, powerful songs - "Stormy Weather" and "Supper Time" - just for Ethel Waters to emote in Cotton Club and Broadway revues. The self-trained, salt-of-the-earth performer was only the second African-American to be nominated for an Academy Award, and won the New York Drama Critics Award for "The Member of the Wedding," which tried out here at the Walnut Street Theatre. Now the locally spawned (born in Chester) Waters is coming to life and home again, in "Ethel!" a one-woman show written by and starring Terry Burrell and staging its world premiere at the Walnut's intimate Independence Studio.

The Trinidad-born Burrell has had quite the show history of her own - stints on Broadway in "Three Penny Opera," "Thoroughly Modern Millie," "Swinging on a Star," "Into the Woods," "Dreamgirls" and "Honky Tonk Nights," plus playing Julie in Harold Prince's London production of "Showboat." And her stager, Kenneth Roberson, has admirable credits, too, choreographing "Avenue Q," "The Color Purple" and "Harlem Song."

Burrell sees Waters as a woman who "came from nothing and made something of herself by fulfilling her passion. That is what I aspire to."


Walnut Street Theatre, Independence Studio on 3, 825 Walnut St. previews start Tuesday and Wednesday, opens on Thursday, with performances Tuesday-Sunday at 7:30 p.m., matinees Saturday and Sunday at 2:30 p.m. through March 11, 215-574-3550, www.WalnutStreetTheatre.org.

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