Jannie Jones Goes from A Sparrow to A Muse (and Back Again) During One
Season at Florida Studio Theatre
When Jannie Jones traveled to Sarasota in early September, she didn't
expect to still be here during the months of January, February and March. But Jones, who originally came down to appear in Ethel Waters: His Eye is
on the Sparrow was subsequently cast in FST's Cabaret tribute to the piano
greats of the 20th century, Piano Men, which runs through March 25, 2006.
Now Jones's stay will be even longer thanks to Florida Studio Theatre's
decision to bring back the popular Mainstage opener. Written by
Sarasota playwright Larry Parr, Ethel Waters: His Eye is on the Sparrow will
return to FST, playing a limited engagement run in the Gompertz Theatre.
Switching gears from Ethel Waters to Piano Men was a welcome challenge
- and change - for Jones. "I underwent a complete mental change," she says.
"I went from a very intense place in my head, playing a real-life person
who lived such an incredible life, to rehearsing for Piano Men, where I was
in a very creative place where I could play and discover, 'Who is this
character and where do I want to take her?'"
Ethel Waters: His Eye is on the Sparrow chronicles the life of a woman
who came from the bottom and, despite all the odds, found her way to the
top. Born in 1896 to a teenage rape victim, Ethel Waters pulled herself out
of abject poverty to become one of the foremost African-American
performers of in history. Her career spanned more than seven decades and took her from vaudeville stages to Broadway and Hollywood.
Looking at Waters' life, there were not a lot of options or choices for
an African-American woman, particularly one in Waters' impoverished
circumstances. But she didn't let the lack of opportunity stop her.
"The inspiration of this piece is that in order to get to reach your full
potential, you have to keep moving," says the show's director Dennis
Courtney. "That's the message. You've got to do it. It won't come to
you. Ethel made her own life happen."
Ethel Waters: His Eye is on the Sparrow not only chronicles this
amazing career, but also gives insight into the human being behind the famous persona. Playing Waters was not only a challenge for Jones, but also a labor of love. Jones sees Waters as a pioneer and feels that by playing the role, she's not only paying homage to her but "standing on the shoulders of Ethel."
Jones, along with Chaundra Cameron, originated the role when Ethel
Waters: His Eye is on the Sparrow made its world premiere in October 2005. Ms. Jones has appeared in a number of other FST productions including It Ain't Nothin' But the Blues, Too Darn Hot and The All Night Strut. Ms. Jones also originated the role of another influential African-American entertainer, Alberta Hunter, in Larry Parr's My Castle's Rockin.' For now, audiences will have to wait another eight weeks or so to see Jones reprise her role as Ethel Waters. But they can catch her in the Cabaret revue, Piano Men, appearing alongside Scott J. Pearson and David Abeles.
Piano Men runs through March 25, 2006 in the FST Goldstein Cabaret.
Tickets are $26-29.
Ethel Waters: His Eye is on the Sparrow begins its limited engagement
April 13, 2006 in the Gompertz Theatre. Tickets are $32-34.
Tickets for either Piano Men or Ethel Waters may be purchased by
calling (941) 366-9000.
Ethel Waters: His Eye is on the Sparrow
The Gompertz Theatre Performance Schedule
Thursday, April 13 at 7:30 p.m.
Friday, April 14 at 7:30 p.m.
Sunday, April 16 at 7:30 p.m.
The Goldstein Cabaret Performance Schedule
Tuesday January 24 6:00 p.m.
Wednesday January 25 7:30 p.m.
Thursday January 26 7:30 p.m.
Friday January 27 6:00 & 9:00 p.m.
Saturday January 28 6:00 & 9:00 p.m.
Sunday January 29 2:00 & 7:30 p.m.
Tuesday January 31 6:00 p.m.
Wednesday February 1 7:30 p.m.
Thursday February 2 7:30 p.m.
Friday February 3 6:00 & 9:00 p.m.
Saturday February 4 6:00 & 9:00 p.m.
Sunday February 5 2:00 & 7:30 p.m.
Tuesday February 7 6:00 p.m.
Wednesday February 8 7:30 p.m.
Thursday February 9 7:30 p.m.
Friday February 10 6:00 & 9:00 p.m.
Saturday February 11 6:00 & 9:00 p.m.
Sunday February 12 2:00 & 7:30 p.m.
Tuesday February 14 6:00 p.m.
Wednesday February 15 7:30 p.m.
Thursday February 16 7:30 p.m.
Saturday February 18 6:00 & 9:00 p.m.
Sunday February 19 2:00 & 7:30 p.m.
Tuesday February 21 6:00 p.m.
Wednesday February 22 7:30 p.m.
Thursday February 23 7:30 p.m.
Friday February 24 6:00 & 9:00 p.m.
Saturday February 25 6:00 & 9:00 p.m.
Sunday February 26 2:00 & 7:30 p.m.
Tuesday February 28 6:00 p.m.
Wednesday March 1 6:00 & 9:00 p.m.
Thursday March 2 7:30 p.m.
Friday March 3 6:00 & 9:00 p.m.
Saturday March 4 6:00 & 9:00 p.m.
Sunday March 5 2:00 & 7:30 p.m.
Tuesday March 7 6:00 p.m.
Wednesday March 8 7:30 p.m.
Thursday March 9 7:30 p.m.
Friday March 10 6:00 & 9:00 p.m.
Saturday March 11 6:00 & 9:00 p.m.
Sunday March 12 2:00 & 7:30 p.m.
Tuesday March 14 6:00 p.m.
Wednesday March 15 7:30 p.m.
Thursday March 16 7:30 p.m.
Friday March 17 6:00 & 9:00 p.m.
Saturday March 18 6:00 & 9:00 p.m.
Sunday March 19 2:00 & 7:30 p.m.
Tuesday March 21 6:00 p.m.
Wednesday March 22 2:00 p.m.
Thursday March 23 7:30 p.m.
Friday March 24 6:00 & 9:00 p.m.
Saturday March 25 6:00 & 9:00 p.m.