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A Must See

Jennie Harney Reprises Her Role in PEARL

Jennie Harney, will reprise her award winning role as Pearl Bailey in the musical, PEARL, this week at the Davenport Theatre.  Presented as part of the Midtown International Theatre Festival, PEARL gives an insider look at Tony Award winning singer and actress Pearl Bailey, and spans over five decades of her life. The show is directed by Tony Award winner Ben Harney (Dreamgirls), who is also the father of the budding star of PEARL.

Bailey was known for her roles in Porgy and Bess, Carmen Jones, House of Flowers, and Hello, Dolly!, in which she and Cab Calloway headlined an all-black cast touring version that eventually came to Broadway, where it played to sold-out houses and revitalized the long running musical.  In addition, Bailey was given a special Tony Award for her role and a second cast album was recorded with Bailey’s vocals.

The reviews for PEARL have been overwhelmingly positive. Bernard Cummings, a professor at SMU Meadows School of the Arts  said, “Pearl is a real treat! I loved every bit of it…What a mammoth undertaking in 90 minutes, and you all handled it with such grace and fluidity. Bravo to the writer and director, as well. So much fun to sit in an audience and have the “call” and “response” button pushed, and we played along—–felt like a groundling listening to one of Henry’s rousing speeches. I love theatre when this happens. Within minutes, we were all participating in the show (so to speak) and we lost ourselves in the story. Job well done, Everyone.”  Charles White of the New York City Black Theater Network remarked, “There’s a diva in the house and, believe me, you’re going to pay attention. The incomparable Pearl Bailey, as embodied by the lovely and talented Jennie Harney in Pearl, will have you laughing, crying and marvelling at the strength she brings to life’s challenges and at the crystal clarity of her powerful voice.”

Harney’s other performances include Beehive, the 60’s MusicalThunder Knocking on the DoorDreamgirls, and MOTOWN The Musical.  “Miss Jennie”, as she is known by students, has been a teacher with BAMSS Theatre Works since 2004 and has brought the arts to students in New York City’s public school system. Although she has been on stages and is known as a performer,  Harney’s ultimate accomplishment is teaching, challenging and empowering students.

Performances of PEARL are on July 14, 18, 21, 25, and August 2. Check out their sleek website at and get your tickets. This is a true gem!

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