New End Returns to Jazz with Nat King Cole ShowDate: 28 November 2002
Following the success this past summer of Lady Day at Emerson's Bar and Grill about Billie Holiday, Hampstead's New End theatre will pay homage to another jazz great. The House That Nat Built, about the late Nat King Cole (pictured), will receive its world premiere on 17 December 2002 and continue until 19 January 2003.
Set in the studios of Capital Records during the recording of a Christmas television special, the production features a succession of classic songs, including "The Christmas Song", "White Christmas", "Unforgettable", "When I Fall In Love", "Fly Me To The Moon and "Mona Lisa".
Nat King Cole is played by Colin Roy, whose West End credits include Five Guys Named Moe, Smokey Joe's Café, Soul Train and Sweet Charity. He's joined on stage by a live band of three jazz musicians. The production is directed by Mark Clements, the Derby Playhouse artistic directed who also directed Lady Day at Emerson's Bar and Grill and whose other recent credits include The Browning Version with Corin Redgrave.
Pianist, singer and bandleader Nat King Cole may have made his name as a singer, but his work as a pianist is most musically significant. Taking the intricacies of Earl Fatha Hines' right hand lines and coupling them with the more spare, left hand ones developed by Count Basie, Cole's impact on subsequent generations of pianists is far reaching.
Born in Montgomery, Alabama in 1917, Nat King Cole made his recording debut - along with his jazz musician brothers - on Decca in Chicago in 1936. Despite the bars placed on him because of his colour, he went on to become one of the most well-known singer and bandleader's of his generation, making numerous recordings with his own Nat Cole Trio as well as one-offs with other jazz greats including Lester Young and Red Callender. In the 1950s, he went on to front his own radio and television show. He died in 1965.
- by Terri Paddock