- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 20, 2006

Arena Stage board member Judy Lynn Prince confessed Sunday that she “didn’t know much about the ‘3 Mo’ Tenors’” show conceived to celebrate black men’s voices. Now, having seen “3 Mo’ Divas,” she doesn’t need to.

The fast-paced cabaret-style revue of musical styles had a two-night (and two-party) opening this past weekend, heralding the talents of two trios — a total of six powerhouse female singers — who perform on alternate nights in Arena’s Kreeger Theater.

“I hope they bring in everyone from every musical base in Washington,” she said enthusiastically after a rousing performance that had the audience on its feet more than once.

“We hope everyone in the District, Virginia and Maryland will come,” echoed Marion J. Caffey, writer-director of the show, which is being billed as a “celebration of class, sass and style.”

“The feat they do every night is extraordinary: Three people sing eight styles of music from the past 400 years and do it in four languages,” he told the second-night crowd while holding his 3-year-old daughter, Mari, who looked on, unperturbed, like the showbiz veteran she is. (Her mother, Stephanie Pope, has just finished an off-Broadway stint in Michael John LaChiusa’s “Bernarda Alba,” a musicalized version of Federico Garcia Lorca’s classic play that starred Phylicia Rashad.)

Broadway has claimed a number of the singing stars in this East Coast debut of Mr. Caffey’s creation, which found its way to Arena, he noted with grateful fervor, because “shows land where they are supposed to.” Washington’s own Jamet Pittman, for one, grew up singing and playing organ and piano in local churches before going on to Oberlin Conservatory, Catholic University, the Manhattan School of Music and the ensemble of the Baz Luhrmann Broadway production of “La Boheme,” among other niches in a largely operatic career. In 1997, the New York Times quite presciently called her “one of tomorrow’s divas.”

That’s diva, as in “a truncated version of a vocal goddess,” she noted, describing her part in an entertainment vehicle she described as “kind of a timeout from the fast and frenzied baser message of music today — for people ready for something more refined.”

Ann Geracimos

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