Expressions: A Celebration of Voices in African-American Music
Winter Park Playhouse
Starring Maria Olivia Bryant
Featuring Bryant Pratt and Dave Stuart
Winter Park, FL
The Winter Park Playhouse folks continue to expand the cabaret options in Orlando, and that’s good for everyone involved. Their new quarterly cabaret series focuses on African- American performers, and we open tonight with jazz soon-to-be-great Olivia Bryant and her superb backing band. The Playhouse’s goal here is to give African American talent a bigger stage in this town, and they are off to a flying start. They stick with the one hour, no intermission format, and they pack a lot of entertainment into that window. Spoken word artist Bryan Pratt starts us off with a pair of showy raps about love and life. Then saxophonist Dave Stuart takes the stage in his rhinestone encrusted jacket and does a 20-minute session of amazing jazz acrobatics. Behind him we hear a piano, drums and bass; this is one of the most involved musical productions The Playhouse has ever put up, and it’s just the lobby act. Half way through our star Ms. Bryant appears in a striking black and white dress. She gets right down to business with “Chain of Fools.” “Never Loved a Man Like You,” and “Respect.” All the pieces were made famous by Whitney Houston or Aretha Franklin, and by 8:30 the show wraps up on time, and hits the most important show biz criteria of all: Leave the crowd begging for more. There’s a full ninety-minute show in here, just bursting to get out.