By Ronnie Ruff
Interviews: Joel Markowitz
Three Mo Divas — Arena Stage
di·va ( P ) Pronunciation Key (dv)
n. pl. di·vas or di·ve (-v)
An operatic prima donna.
A very successful singer of non operatic music: a jazz diva
So that’s the meaning straight from the dictionary but what is the real meaning of ‘diva’? I think Arena may have the answer with their summer delight Three Mo Divas now mounted for your enjoyment in the Kreeger Theatre. I know some of you will think that this is just another cabaret, but this show is more than a cabaret-it’s a beautifully staged production that shows off the power and beauty of the female voice. This show has everything from Opera to Jazz to Broadway. The arrangements are exciting, engaging and purely beautiful.
So let’s start with the beautiful staging, multiple glass and steel panels that slide from side to side that allow stage depth, colorful back lighting and spots to showoff glittering costumes. And…. The Divas!
Who are the Divas? On the night I attended Gretha Boston, N’Kenge and Janet Pittman. Arena and Creator Marion Caffey have brought in six divas because according to Mr. Caffey such a diverse and difficult collection of material would be far too great a feat for just three Divas to pull off on a nightly basis. So Arena has brought in six wonderful divas for our enjoyment. Andrea Jones Sojola, Nina Negri and Vivian Reed make up the group I did not see.
Gretha Boston was simply sublime, she is in complete command of all the material she attempts — her Gospel numbers were outstanding! Jane Pittman, born in DC is a treasure, she has warmth and range in addition to a presence that is joyful. N’Kenge, who is to release a R&B single world-wide soon was the most complete entertainer having the diva’s voice with some wonderful dance steps as well.
The show is made up of the divas singing solo and as a group. Rather than go into who sang what or what was the high or low point I would rather say these three women are some of the best voices I have ever heard. Each number was a joy. Of course one will appreciate some songs more than others due to personal musical preferences but I am sure everyone will find songs they love from the numbers chosen.
Songs from La Boheme and Faust, Sweet Charity and Little Shop of Horrors, songs like Miss Cele’s Blues and Solitude. The best of R&B and Gospel, Broadway and Jazz, Blues and Classical. A very hot band backs up the Divas with some really superior piano work and a tight rhythm section. Two time Grammy nominee Joseph Joubert’s arrangements and musical direction are top notch, this show does not miss a beat.
So if you have never had the opportunity to hear one diva, much less three divas, now is the time to seize the moment. Three Mo Divas deserves a call to the Arena boxoffice.