What an interesting story. Very well acted. Excellently sung. Golden. Those are just some of the thoughts that ran through my head as I was watching Journey of a Bombshell: The Ina Ray Hutton Story (written and performed by Melissa Ritz, with direction by Julie Kline) as part of the United Solo Theatre Festival at Theatre Row in NYC (410 West 42nd Street, between 9th & 10th Avenue).
For those of you who don't know, Ina Ray Hutton was the most successful female bandleader of the Big Band era. Ina conducted The Melodears, an all-girl band, was the first woman to conduct male bands in the 1940’s, and she was the first woman to have her own TV show in the 1950’s.
Melissa did a fantastic job bringing this story to life. The passion and energy put into this show was evident right from the start. From Ina's early days in Chicago to her trips around the world breaking down barriers for women in music, Melissa portrayed each stage of Ina's life with ease and perfection. While Ina was the main character Melissa played, she also effortlessy jumped between all the supporting characters in Ina's life, from Ina's relatives to her managers to her bandmates.
The thing I liked most about Journey of a Bombshell was learning about Ina's career and the portrayal of her drive, determination, and strength of working her way up in a man's world. Ina knew her talents and didn't let anyone compromise her integrity or vision. She worked hard for what she wanted and it was great to see her grow and change throughout the show.
Intertwining this story together were a host of songs from the Big Band era that were all very enjoyable. Each song helped move this story along. I couldn't write about Journey of a Bombshell without complimenting director Julie Kline for the way she weaved this show together. I felt the movement of the show worked really well and am excited to see where this show goes after the United Solo Theatre Festival.
I truly feel this show has legs and I just don't mean the one's on Melissa that dazzle with her dancing! After 3 sold-out performances, Journey of a Bombshell just has one performance left: November 17. Click here to get your tickets!
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