PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A play coming to the People’s Light Theatre in Malvern this fall will bring some Hollywood star power to tell the tale of a controversial night in the life of legendary musician Nat King Cole.
Lights Out: Nat “King” Cole uses civil rights issues of the time as a background and key theme as the story focuses on the final broadcast of Cole’s groundbreaking television show, which was cancelled after a year because a sponsor couldn’t be found.
“To really look at and examine what might have been going through his mind and what was the experience of taping the last show. He was a man who was known for being the epitome of elegance and grace even in the face of great controversy, and the show closing was a great controversy,” said Director Patricia McGregor.
McGregor is co-writing with Philadelphia native Colman Domingo, who currently stars on AMC’s ‘Fear the Walking Dead.’ McGregor says the play will look at more than just the final episode of Cole’s show.
“The framework is that night, but it does go back and forward in real-time and imagined time,” McGregor explained.
Some of that time will be spent looking at Nat “King” Cole’s relationship with Sammy Davis Jr. The part of Cole will be played by Dule Hill, who is best known for his work on ‘The West Wing,’ among numerous Broadway productions and dozens of television shows.
McGregor says the relationship between Cole and Sammy Davis Jr. becomes a central part of the production.
“How they push each other, and how they might be two sides of a coin about how you should move the evening and/or your life forward. There’s so much play and there’s so much challenge in their relationship,” she said.
McGregor says Lights Out: Nat “King” Cole will feature many live musical numbers, and some guest stars such as Eartha Kitt, Peggy Lee, Betty Hutton, and Billy Preston. The goal is to make the audience feel like they’ve been transported back in time to be part of a live studio audience.
Lights Out: Nat “King” Cole is scheduled to open at People’s Light on October 11, and is scheduled to run through early December. More information about the show and tickets can be found online at www.peopleslight.org, or by calling 610-644-3500.