Lights Out: Nat "King" Cole

Critics

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85 %

Reviews: 13

Audience

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Reviews: 0

NOW EXTENDED THRU MAR 24!
Lights Out: Nat "King" Cole
February 5 - March 24, 2019
Gil Cates Theater
West Coast Premiere Musical
Written by Colman Domingo & Patricia McGregor
Directed by Patricia McGregor
Music Supervision by John McDaniel
Choreography by Edgar Godineaux
Tap and Additional Choreography by Jared Grimes
Featuring Gisela Adisa, Connor Amacio Matthews, Bryan Dobson, Mary-Pat Green, Dulé Hill, Ruby Lewis, Zonya Love, Brandon Ruiter & Daniel J. Watts

In this electrifying exploration into the soul of an American icon, Tony and Olivier Award nominee Colman Domingo and Patricia McGregor imagine Nat “King” Cole as he faces the final Christmastime broadcast of his groundbreaking variety show and weighs the advice of his friend Sammy Davis Jr. to “go out with a bang.” Cole's hit songs, such as “Nature Boy,” “It's a Good Day” and “Smile,” underscore this boldly original homage to the renowned performer who struggled to break through America's color barrier in the early days of television. A feast for the eyes, ears and soul, the musical incorporates lively choreography by Broadway veteran Edgar Godineaux and dazzling tap dance steeped in politics and pizzazz created by renowned hoofer Jared Grimes.

Reprising their roles from a sold-out run at People's Light & Theater in Philadelphia, Emmy Award nominee Dulé Hill (West Wing; Psych; Bring in ‘da Noise, Bring in ‘da Funk) as Nat “King” Cole and Hamilton star Daniel J. Watts as Sammy Davis Jr. bring life to a play the Philadelphia Inquirer called “profound, ambitious, wide-ranging and dreamlike.” Like Cole himself, Lights Out promises to be “Unforgettable.”

Reviews

Avatar

Under the superb, masterful direction of Patricia McGregor, Dulé Hill, renders an extraordinary portrayal of one of America's most famous entertainers.

sweet - Beverly Cohn - LA Splash - ...read full review


Avatar

The murky book cannot stop the performances from thrilling. Hill and Watts are galvanic together as they reenact Cole and Davis' showstopping duets. Although nobody can replicate Cole's voice, Hill does a creditable job with his songs.

The only disappointment is that often their performances — maybe to save time? — are layered under dialogue. Please don't stop the music! These voices are too good to mute.

sweet - Margaret Gray - LA Times - ...read full review


Avatar

Highlighting the best performances and backstage antics makes Lights Out worth watching. Gisela Adisa does a phenomenal job as Eartha Kitt, the memorable Catwoman from the 1960s television series Batman. Actor Dulé Hill (West Wing, Psych and Suits) does an absolutely show worthy performance as Nat King Cole. His smooth demeanor complements his funny side with or without the hyperactivity of Davis, Jr. The two even have a tap dance battle out doing the other. That move would definitely get high ratings on the last show. Hill plays Cole with style and finesse. In private, Cole isn't feeling well and appears sad and worried. As Cole, Hill portrays a man with alot on his shoulders. Being the first African American to have his own show,during a time were being racist came as natural as breathing, Hill recognizes that overt evil and continues on with his life and show. He understands that the show is bigger than himself and bigger than NBC. I believe he finds it his duty to come out on top with dignity and of course, a good time.

sweet - Mary Montoro - All About the Stage - ...read full review


Deborah Klugman

...it's unclear at what point the narrative becomes a dreamscape; more of an issue is the lack of an adequate framework for dream encounters......Otherwise, there's a lot to like.

sweet-sour - Deborah Klugman - Stage Raw - ...read full review


Avatar

The slap-dash nature of Domingo and McGregor's script detracts from the essential strength of the show: Hill's performance as Cole.  His versions of “Nature Boy,” “Mona Lisa,” and “Straighten Up and Fly Right” (written by Cole, by the way) are on the money.  Some of the other songs (sung by Kitt, Hutton, Lee) light up the stage as well.  But each time a musical number works, the frantic, over-the- top story kills what follows.

sweet-sour - Willard Manus - Total Theater - ...read full review


Avatar

Co-written with Coleman Domingo by director Patricia McGregor, Lights Out: Nat “King” Cole is a fever dream that is entertaining, terrifically intense, distancing and confusing...

Forget about the story. Go for the memory of Nat “King” Cole. Stay for the entertainment and 19 remarkable songs. Continue to fight racism.

sweet - Tony Frankel- Stage and Cinema - ...read full review


Avatar

The plot is somewhat confusing; what's real, what's imagined. The racism is real enough. But despite what's not always clear, the performances in this show are astounding.

sweet - Sarah A Spitz - Santa Monica Daily Press - ...read full review


Rob Stevens

Dule Hill gives a commanding performance as Cole, looking and sounding like the star in his prime. Most of the singer's big hits get some play, in full or in part, by either Hill or one of the many other fine singers in the cast...The writing gets heavy handed as the show progresses and could use some smoothing out. The direction also needs to be clarified. The performers are ready; give them the material to really sell this story.

sweet-sour - Rob Stevens - ...read full review


Carol Kaufman Segal

The problem I find with the production is that the play lacks form and can be confusing at times.

sweet-sour - Carol Kaufman Segal - Caron's Culture Corner - ...read full review


Shari Barrett

Perhaps the only shortcoming is the book, which I found a bit confusing as I could never really figure out what was really taking place or just in Cole's mind as he pondered how to “go out with a bang” per the advice of his friend. But even so, this show will continue to be a hit for its extraordinary musical talent and moving tribute to one of the best crooners whose brilliance will continue to entertain forever via his recordings.

sweet - Shari Barrett - Culver City News - ...read full review


Steven Stanley

Overambitious and flawed it may be, but at its best Lights Out: Nat “King” Cole provides a much-needed history lesson/reminder of the progress we have made and the work yet to be done in the struggle for equality for all. For Dulé Hill's mesmerizing, indefatigable star turn alone, it more than merits the standing ovation it receives.

sweet - Steven Stanley, StageSceneLA - ...read full review


Avatar

Velvety voice Dulé Hill portrays Nat “King Cole during the last night of his televised variety show in Lights Out: Nat “King Cole at the Geffen Playhouse.

Taking my seat before the show, I admired Clint Ramos and Ryan Howell's 50s style television sound stage set with “applause” and “on-air” boxes high up. We feel as if we are part of a studio audience. Musicians David Witham (Conductor/Keyboards), Greg Poree (Guitar), Edwin Livingston (Bass) and Brian Miller (Drums/ Percussion/ Orchestra Conductor) warm up before the show begins.

sweet - Jill Weinlein - OnStage Blog - ...read full review


Patrick Chavis

Anchored by the incredible talent of Dule Hill this is the true definition of a must-see show! An Exceptional Show!

sweet - Matthew Robinson - LA Theatre Bites - ...read full review


Avatar

Under the superb, masterful direction of Patricia McGregor, Dulé Hill, renders an extraordinary portrayal of one of America's most famous entertainers.

sweet - Beverly Cohn - LA Splash - ...read full review


Avatar

The murky book cannot stop the performances from thrilling. Hill and Watts are galvanic together as they reenact Cole and Davis' showstopping duets. Although nobody can replicate Cole's voice, Hill does a creditable job with his songs.

The only disappointment is that often their performances — maybe to save time? — are layered under dialogue. Please don't stop the music! These voices are too good to mute.

sweet - Margaret Gray - LA Times - ...read full review


Avatar

Highlighting the best performances and backstage antics makes Lights Out worth watching. Gisela Adisa does a phenomenal job as Eartha Kitt, the memorable Catwoman from the 1960s television series Batman. Actor Dulé Hill (West Wing, Psych and Suits) does an absolutely show worthy performance as Nat King Cole. His smooth demeanor complements his funny side with or without the hyperactivity of Davis, Jr. The two even have a tap dance battle out doing the other. That move would definitely get high ratings on the last show. Hill plays Cole with style and finesse. In private, Cole isn't feeling well and appears sad and worried. As Cole, Hill portrays a man with alot on his shoulders. Being the first African American to have his own show,during a time were being racist came as natural as breathing, Hill recognizes that overt evil and continues on with his life and show. He understands that the show is bigger than himself and bigger than NBC. I believe he finds it his duty to come out on top with dignity and of course, a good time.

sweet - Mary Montoro - All About the Stage - ...read full review


Deborah Klugman

...it's unclear at what point the narrative becomes a dreamscape; more of an issue is the lack of an adequate framework for dream encounters......Otherwise, there's a lot to like.

sweet-sour - Deborah Klugman - Stage Raw - ...read full review


Avatar

The slap-dash nature of Domingo and McGregor's script detracts from the essential strength of the show: Hill's performance as Cole.  His versions of “Nature Boy,” “Mona Lisa,” and “Straighten Up and Fly Right” (written by Cole, by the way) are on the money.  Some of the other songs (sung by Kitt, Hutton, Lee) light up the stage as well.  But each time a musical number works, the frantic, over-the- top story kills what follows.

sweet-sour - Willard Manus - Total Theater - ...read full review


Avatar

Co-written with Coleman Domingo by director Patricia McGregor, Lights Out: Nat “King” Cole is a fever dream that is entertaining, terrifically intense, distancing and confusing...

Forget about the story. Go for the memory of Nat “King” Cole. Stay for the entertainment and 19 remarkable songs. Continue to fight racism.

sweet - Tony Frankel- Stage and Cinema - ...read full review


Avatar

The plot is somewhat confusing; what's real, what's imagined. The racism is real enough. But despite what's not always clear, the performances in this show are astounding.

sweet - Sarah A Spitz - Santa Monica Daily Press - ...read full review


Rob Stevens

Dule Hill gives a commanding performance as Cole, looking and sounding like the star in his prime. Most of the singer's big hits get some play, in full or in part, by either Hill or one of the many other fine singers in the cast...The writing gets heavy handed as the show progresses and could use some smoothing out. The direction also needs to be clarified. The performers are ready; give them the material to really sell this story.

sweet-sour - Rob Stevens - ...read full review


Carol Kaufman Segal

The problem I find with the production is that the play lacks form and can be confusing at times.

sweet-sour - Carol Kaufman Segal - Caron's Culture Corner - ...read full review


Shari Barrett

Perhaps the only shortcoming is the book, which I found a bit confusing as I could never really figure out what was really taking place or just in Cole's mind as he pondered how to “go out with a bang” per the advice of his friend. But even so, this show will continue to be a hit for its extraordinary musical talent and moving tribute to one of the best crooners whose brilliance will continue to entertain forever via his recordings.

sweet - Shari Barrett - Culver City News - ...read full review


Steven Stanley

Overambitious and flawed it may be, but at its best Lights Out: Nat “King” Cole provides a much-needed history lesson/reminder of the progress we have made and the work yet to be done in the struggle for equality for all. For Dulé Hill's mesmerizing, indefatigable star turn alone, it more than merits the standing ovation it receives.

sweet - Steven Stanley, StageSceneLA - ...read full review


Avatar

Velvety voice Dulé Hill portrays Nat “King Cole during the last night of his televised variety show in Lights Out: Nat “King Cole at the Geffen Playhouse.

Taking my seat before the show, I admired Clint Ramos and Ryan Howell's 50s style television sound stage set with “applause” and “on-air” boxes high up. We feel as if we are part of a studio audience. Musicians David Witham (Conductor/Keyboards), Greg Poree (Guitar), Edwin Livingston (Bass) and Brian Miller (Drums/ Percussion/ Orchestra Conductor) warm up before the show begins.

sweet - Jill Weinlein - OnStage Blog - ...read full review


Patrick Chavis

Anchored by the incredible talent of Dule Hill this is the true definition of a must-see show! An Exceptional Show!

sweet - Matthew Robinson - LA Theatre Bites - ...read full review