VENICE, CA — The “Queen of the Blues” is back. “ER’s” Yvette Freeman reprises her Obie Award-winning role as Dinah Washington when L.A. Theatre Works’ The  Play’s The Thing live radio theater series records Dinah Was forpublic radio broadcast. Joining Freeman in Oliver Goldstick’s musical biography of the legendary singer are members of the original Off-Broadway cast including Adriane Lenox (who also received an Obie for her performance), Bud Leslie, and Darryl Alan Reed, with Music Director Lanny Hartley. Five performances at the Skirball Cultural Center will each be recorded  before a live audience for future broadcast on Southern California Public Radio’s 89.3 (FM) KPCC and XM Satellite Radio. Performances take place on Wednesday, May 8 at 8:00 p.m.; Thursday, May 9 at 8:00 p.m.;  Friday, May 10 at 8:00 p.m.; and Sunday, May 12 at 4:00 p.m.and 7:30 p.m. (There is no performance on Saturday, May 11.)

Dinah Washington lived hard and fast – the epitome of a blues diva who lived the life she sang about. Incorporating popular songs from the singer‘s 20-year career, Dinah Was celebrates her remarkable and rocky journey from humble roots to headlining fame. Dinah Was explodes with the rhythms, tough breaks, and tender notes that fired the life and music of this passionate performer. Yvette Freeman captures Washington’s singular style, delivering songs she rendered unforgettable including “What a Diff’rence a Day Makes,” “I Wanna Be Loved,” and “Come Rain or Come Shine.”

Freeman conceived Dinah Was, then developed it with playwright Oliver Goldstick. It premiered at the Williamstown Theatre Festival in 1995, and played an 11 week sold-out performance in 1996 at the CoastPlayhouse in Los Angeles.The Off Broadway run, initially at the WPA Theatre, then at the new Gramercy Theatre, garnered Obie Awards for Freeman and co-star Adriane Lenox.

“She has got it! Freeman is Dinah!” exclaimed Leonard Feather, jazz critic and composer of many of Washington’s hits. Agreed the New York Times, “Freeman is excellent as Washington, a whirlwind lustily sucking up huge gulps of life.” And Daily Variety wrote,“Dinah Was” keenly hits the right notes. The often-turbulent episodic life of singer Dinah Washington is structured with a persuasive narrative and a markedly honest and vibrant performance by Yvette Freeman.”

“Dinah was fabulous.” says Freeman. “She had her dreams and she tried to fulfill them. She didn’t get 'em all, butshe prospered as a singer and as a businesswoman — and back in the fifties, black women weren’t supposed to be acting like that! She had seven husbands, two kids, and I don’t know how many hundreds of songs she recorded, so I think she lived a pretty full life in those few years.”

Yvette Freeman is known to millions for her acting in the NBC acclaimed series ER - as the no-nonsense Nurse Haleh Adams - and for two years on Working with Fred Savage. Freeman released her first CD, A Tributeto Dinah Washington, in 2000 and is working on an R&B recording for later this   year. Born in Wilmington, Delaware, Yvette, who is one of seven children, developed her love of performing from her father, jazz pianist Charles Freeman. Her first major performance was in the Broadway musical sensation Ain’t Misbehavin’, which led to a plethora of roles on stage, television and feature films. In addition to starring in the Broadway and the first national, Paris and international, companies of Ain’t Misbehavin’, Freeman’s other stage credits include the regional productions of Elegies for Angel Punks and Raging Queens;  Nunsense;  Show Boat;Best Little Whorehouse in Texas; and Member of the Wedding. National and international touring company productions include The Wiz; Don’t Bother Me, I Can’t Cope; Voices, Inc.; and Mademoiselle Rose in Monte Carlo and China.

L.A. Theatre Works’ multiple award-winning The Play’s The Thing live radio theater series is now in its 11th year. Productions are broadcast nationally over NPR stations and XM Satellite radio, and worldwide over Voice of America and other English language stations. In 2001, LATW’s production of Neil Simon’s The Prisoner of Second Avenue, starring Richard Dreyfuss and Marsha Mason, was nominated for a GRAMMY Award in the category of Best Spoken Comedy Album. Last June, LATW received three “Audies” from the Audio Publishers Association including Best Theatrical Performance (Agnes of God), Best Multi-Voiced Presentation (Cakewalk starring Elaine Stritch), and an “Audio Hero” award for the “Alive and Aloud” and “Library Access” programs through which LATW donates audio recordings of classic and contemporary plays and accompanying materials to 2,000 public secondary schools and 700 libraries nationwide. Other productions  in the series have won awards from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Sony, the New York Festivals, the Writers Guild of America, Publishers Weekly, and Audiofile Magazine. L.A. Theatre Works’ Audio Theatre Collection is distributedto libraries nationwide through Books on Tape and is available in bookstores, through L.A.T.W.’S catalogue, and at the L.A. Theatre Works website.

89.3(FM) KPCC is the flagship station of Southern California Public Radio. It reaches 350,000 weekly listeners and airs all of the signature public radio news and talk programs, along with locally produced news and talk, including “AirTalk” with Larry Mantle weekdays from 9:00 to 11:00 a.m. and “Talk of the City” with Kitty Felde weekdays from 1:00 to 2:30 p.m. L.A. Theatre Works’ The Play’s The Thing airs Saturday nights, from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m., immediately following Garrison Keillor’s “A Prairie Home Companion.”

The Skirball Cultural Center, whose mission is to celebrate American-Jewish life and American democratic values, is located at 2701 N. Sepulveda Boulevard, in the Santa Monica Mountains just off the San Diego Freeway (exit Skirball Center Drive). Ticket prices range from $10.00 to $42.00. For reservations and information, call the L.A. Theatre Works Box Office at (310) 827-0889.

Lucy Pollak (818) 887-1499 for Theatre info
Sylvi C. Brown (888) 947-7911 for Yvette Freeman