Singer/actress Felicia P. Fields celebrates her passion for the blues in ‘Pearl’s Rollin’ With The Blues’ at the Writers Theater

“Pearl’s Rollin’ With the Blues: A Night With Felicia P. Fields” — ★ ★ ★

At her heart, Felicia P. Fields is a blues woman.

A veteran of the Marriott, Drury Lane, Northlight, Goodman and Chicago Shakespeare theatres, among others, the award-winning theater artist Joseph Jefferson has spent decades on Chicago-area stages. In 2006, Fields earned a Tony Award nomination for originating the role of Sofia in Broadway’s “The Color Purple.”


Pearl, aka Felicia P. Fields, shares some of her favorite songs in the premiere of “Pearl’s Rollin’ With the Blues: A Night With Felicia P. Fields” at the Writers Theater, directed by Ron OJ Parson.
– Courtesy of Michael Brosilow

But the premiere of the gleeful revue “Pearl’s Rollin’ With The Blues: A Night With Felicia P. Fields” — which she created with director Ron OJ Parson — suggests where her true passion lies. Indeed, it’s evident in her expression, the way she carries herself, and the obvious taste she takes in singing standards such as “Wang Dang Doodle”, “I’m a Man” (updated as “I’m a Woman”) and “Everyday I have the blues”.

A powerful singer whose shrewd, playful presence served her well as she joked around with the audience, Fields is hugely entertaining. And here, in a theater redesigned as a blues lounge, she is in her natural element.


        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        


Singer/actress Felicia P. Fields welcomes Writers Theater audiences to her world as part of her new revue,

Singer/actress Felicia P. Fields welcomes Writers Theater audiences into her world for her new revue, “Pearl’s Rollin’ With the Blues: A Night With Felicia P. Fields.”
– Courtesy of Michael Brosilow

The show marks Fields’ return to the Glencoe Theater for the first time since 2019 when she co-starred in August Wilson’s “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” also directed by Parson. Raving applause greeted her on opening night as she walked off stage wearing a silver sequin dress and high-necked cape. She made her way to the center of set designer Jack Magaw’s oyster-inspired bandstand, where she was surrounded by a top-notch quintet led by keyboardist Frank Menzies and featuring musical director/guitarist Chic Street Man, the trumpeter Ricardo Jimenez, bassist Julie Ponce and drummer Harold Morrison.

“We want to protect you from what’s out there,” Fields announced to the crowd atop the 90-minute set featuring mostly blues standards paired with several Chic Street Man originals and selections from gospel.



Music director Chic Street Man performs as star Felicia P. Fields takes a break at the Writers Theater premiere

Musical director Chic Street Man performs as star Felicia P. Fields takes a break during the Writers Theater premiere of “Pearl’s Rollin’ With the Blues: A Night With Felicia P. Fields,” a musical revue created by Fields and director Ron OJ Parson.
– Courtesy of Michael Brosilow

The show – whose title is inspired by Fields’ middle name – begins on a catchy note with Willie Dixon’s party tune “Wang Dang Doodle”, which sets up several suggestive songs whose sexual innuendos aren’t particularly subtle. . Among the more tame offerings is Dixon’s “Built for Comfort,” during which Fields sings “I’m built for comfort / I’m not built for speed.”

Several issues later, in the upbeat “Rough and Ready Man”, she describes her ideal partner – “a hard-working, no-nonsense, good, steady man” only to find his mojo isn’t working. She laments the fact in a flashy, nodding version of “Got My Mojo Working,” punctuated by Jimenez’s dazzling trumpet solo and repeatedly interrupted by Fields, who used the number for dialogue. with members of the public seated at cafe tables near the stage about the status of their romantic relationships.

Muddy Waters’ “I’m a Man” (revised by Fields to “I’m a Woman”) sets off a good-natured battle of the sexes that ends with Fields cheekily warning his future romantic rival: “You can have my husband, but you better not play with my man.”



The titular Pearl (Felicia P. Fields) chats with Writers Theater audiences during a performance of her new revue,

The titular Pearl (Felicia P. Fields) chats with Writers Theater audiences during a performance of her new revue, “Pearl’s Rollin’ With the Blues: A Night With Felicia P. Fields,” which runs until 24 July.
– Courtesy of Michael Brosilow

More a showcase of the blues than an alphabet primer, “Pearl’s Rollin’ With the Blues” offers us a glimpse into the soul of an artist, but only a glimpse. The final third of the show includes Fields’ powerful version of Buddy Guy’s “Skin Deep,” which reminds us “we all have to be careful how we treat each other,” and his moving “Lord I Tried”, an emotional mea culpa. This particularly touching section – during which Fields and his guitarist share personal stories reflecting racism and social injustice – hints at the show’s unrealized potential, in particular the opportunity to get to know Fields – an artist more fully. iconic theater in the Chicago area. .

These intimate, authentic moments draw us in, promising a deeper connection with the artist that, at this point, the show fails to deliver. Maybe that’s something Fields and Parson will explore the next time Pearl rolls with the blues. I bet it’s a show that fans of this bluesman would pay to see.

• • •

Location: Writers Theatre, 325 Tudor Court, Glencoe, (847) 242-6000, writerstheatre.org

Showtimes: 3 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Wednesday; 7:30 p.m. Thursday and Friday; 3 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Saturday; 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. from Sunday to July 24

Tickets: $35 to $90

Duration: Approximately 90 minutes, without intermission

Parking: Street parking available

Rating: For teens and older, some adult topics

COVID-19 precautions: wearing a mask is mandatory