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The Ensemble Theatre Presents 'Nat King Cole and Me -- A Musical Healing'

One of the most treasured and popular singers ever to hit the American scene was the beloved Nat King Cole. He was a brilliant recording and concert artist who had a distinctive and unforgettable voice which has been compared to the quality of velvet, a calm evening breeze, a soft snow fall and a still summer morning that was always unmistakable.

The Ensemble Theatre presents "Nat King Cole And Me -- A Musical Healing," by Gregory Porter. An accomplished jazz vocalist and actor, Porter collaborated with director Randal Myler to create the musical which was given its world premiere at the Denver Center Theatre last spring. It is not a biography of Nat King Cole but it is biographic and drawn from the writer-composer's personal journey to reconcile his feelings for an absentee father. Porter put his signature on the production also by performing the title role in the original production, playing a man who makes a spiritual connection while listening to old Nat King Cole albums. In the music, he finds "the father, hero and friend he had always wanted."

The charm of the production is its simplicity and its elegance. Most of the setting of the play is a concert; with very little spoken text, music becomes the dramatic narrative. The Ensemble's Producing Artistic Director, Marsha Jackson-Randolph, who directs the musical, offers "In 'Nat King Cole and Me,' a mother who gives her son a lifeline when she shares her records of Nat King Cole. The classic music of Nat King Cole is the purest form of imagination. Music, like the imagination is powerful; sometimes it can even heal."

Featured actor Brandon Delagraentiss, last seen in The Ensemble's "A Pure Gospel Christmas" and who has just returned from appearances in New York including "Good Morning America," heads a dynamic cast including Jia Taylor, Jhardon DiShon Milton and Kevin Haliburton, who appear courtesy of the Actor's Equity Association.

Preview dates are Saturday, June 11th @ 8:00 pm; Sunday, June 12th @ 3:00 pm, and Wednesday, June 15th at 7:30 pm. Opening night is Thursday, June 16th at 7:30 pm with a reception at 6:00 pm followed by the performance at The Ensemble Theatre located at 3535 Main St. "Nat King Cole and Me" is generously supported by Duke Energy, CenterPoint and the City of Houston through the Cultural Arts Council of Houston/Harris County. The theatre also extends special thanks to the Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau and Continental Airlines.

Songs made classic Cole such as "Unforgettable," "Mona Lisa," "Nature Boy" and others interweave with original songs to create Porter's musical love poem. The past and present converge in a stream of memories dramatizing the power of the imagination and music to fill the missing places in all our lives. If the garden of your heart needs tending or if you simply wish to travel the memory lane where you first heard the music of Nat King Cole ... this is a musical love poem for you too.



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