Live performances, live audiences to return to Wilson Center this weekend

Live performances, live audiences to return to Wilson Center for 'Uptown at the Cotton Club'

WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - The Wilson Center will welcome back live audiences and live stage shows following a more than year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic and restrictions on indoor crowds.

Opera House Theatre Company presents Uptown at the Cotton Club, a live cabaret performance that celebrates the songs of the 1930s and 40s.

Tickets for the shows on Friday, Saturday and Sunday are available here.

The three performances will include a mix of swing, blues, jazz, bebop and American Songbook standards.

Gabrielle Lee, who created, directed and stars in the show, said it is based on the Harlem blackbirds.

“A lot of people went uptown to Harlem in the 20s, 30s and 40s to hear some good music and to be entertained, you had to go uptown,” she said. “Blackbirds is derived from a Jewish producer back in the day, in the 1920s and early 30s, by the name of Lew Leslie. He was a producer, director, entertainer. He crafted this variety show at the Cotton Club and it was called Harlem Blackbirds and out of it came legendary entertainers that we know, Dorothy Dandridge, Lena Horne, Ethel Waters, Sippie Wallace, Trixie Smith. These are a lot of performers that have made history and I believe that music will continue to go on. It’s just timeless. We’re presenting a lot of that music.”

Lee will be joined on stage by performers Tyrick Wiltez Jones, Jeremy Benton and Jennifer Johns.

The seating will be socially distanced.

A VIP cabaret seating area will be close to the stage and there is also availability in the Opera Boxes.

“I’m just thrilled and honored to be here and so happy that I can do this and bring some joy and the Wilson Center is excited to present live in theater in a very Covid safe and appropriately spaced theater,” she said.

Lee said she thinks the show is a perfect one to ease audiences back to enjoying live performances.

“I think they are itching to come out and they can wear their furs and their fedoras and their feather boas, and I think this particular show presents itself to those who have not been able to put on their nice glitz and glam,” Lee said.

Due to social distancing, capacity is limited.

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