REVIEW: HI-HAT HATTIE

at The Aurora Fox Arts Center

by Michael Mulhern

A solo musical tour-de-force, HI-HAT HATTIE (by Larry Parr) takes place backstage of an old theater where Hattie McDaniel recalls the incredible events of her storied show business life. Raised in Denver and a graduate of Denver East High School, the show details her journey from childhood, through her pain as a stunned widow, to becoming the graceful artist that never buckled under the restraints of appearance, gender or race to become the first African American woman to win an Oscar.

I have known and loved Anna Maria High for close to a decade and have followed her from the Arvada Center to Boulder’s Dinner Theater and even Elitch Gardens. It is such a joy to see her back home at the Aurora Fox where I have previously witnessed her phenomenal craft in Once Upon This Island, The Color Purple and Dreamgirls.

It is a formidable task to headline and carry a show by yourself, but Anna does it with such ease and charm. It is that twinkle in her eye, her engaging storytelling and that powerhouse of a voice that command your attention from beginning to end. I can proudly say that this memorable role is definitely one that she was born to play! I also have to compliment Jodel Charles for his exceptional piano playing and musical direction that kept the show upbeat and fluid.

I truly hope that this wonderful show continues after its Aurora Fox run. Not only is it a vital part of Hollywood history, it is also so pertinent to African-American history and especially Denver history. While Molly Brown is probably the most well known female historical figure in Denver, it is just as important to tell the amazing story of Ms. Hattie McDaniel.

This outstanding show is another feather in Aurora Fox’s cap. This has been a star studded and talented season and I look forward to shows to come!

HI-HAT HATTIE is delighting audiences now through December 23rd. For tickets or more information, contact the Aurora Fox Arts Center by calling 303-739-1970 or online at www.aurorafoxartscenter.org.

PHOTO CREDIT:  Jeremy Rill Photography

 

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