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Harlem Renaissance – The Life of Florence Mills - One4Review

Written and performed by Jonelle Allen and Steve Josephson, the life story of Florence Mills, once described as the ‘Harlem Jazz Queen’ and affectionately known as the ‘the little blackbird’, is a gem of musical theatre. Set mainly in the 1920’s at a time when there was a huge flowering of African-American culture, this production traces her rise to fame from a humble background. With Steve Josephson providing the narration in words and song, Jonelle Allen through song and dance most effectively conveys the huge talent that Florence Mills possessed. Why is her name not better known and her memory cherished? The lack of recordings and film material largely explains her disappearance from public knowledge. The success of the show depends on Jonelle Allen’s singing performance and there is no doubting her singing qualities. Highlights include ‘Some of these Days’ and ‘I’m just wild about Harry’. Her final song ‘The little blackbird’ is the most moving tribute to an artist who died at the age of 31 at the height of her career. This is a show that has been lovingly created and is both entertaining and informative. ****

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