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'Mr. Bojangles' musical pays tribute to late Sammy Davis Jr

The high spirits of Sammy Davis Jr. -- the late US entertainer extraordinaire -- will be brought to life in a new musical set to tour around the world, organisers said Thursday.

 

The show, "Mr. Bojangles: The Ultimate Entertainer," gets its world premiere in the United States next week after Davis's widow and estate gave their blessing to the tribute to the multi-talented entertainer.

 

"The show will focus on Sammy's triumph over his own doubts and fears, and will recreate the once-in-a-lifetime experience of seeing Sammy live," said Gerry Dedera, director of the first live portrayal of Davis's life.

 

The widow of Davis -- one of the four members of Frank Sinatra's 1960's "Rat Pack" group of entertainers, who died of throat cancer complications aged 64 in 1990 -- said the show would reflect his passion.

 

"He gave his heart, his soul and his life to people," said Altovise Davis, who is celebrating what would have been her late husband's 75th anniversary in show business.

 

Davis was a singer, actor, tap dancer, comedian, drummer and player of the trumpet and vibraphone who sprang to fame on Broadway in the 1950s, before moving to Hollywood where he became a charter member of his friend Sinatra's "Rat Pack" in 1959.

 

Once dubbed "the world's greatest living entertainer," he was among the first black American artists to achieve major fame on both sides of the race barrier.

 

But casting the role of Davis was a major challenge, Dedera admitted. "These are big shoes to fill," she said

Two performers will take turns portraying Davis in the show: Ted Levy, who worked alongside tap star Gregory Hines and appeared in a number of Broadway shows, and up-and-coming artist Darrell Grand Moultrie.

The 85-minute show will open in Uncasville, Connecticut, on February 22 and will tour to major casinos across the United States before heading to London later this year and to dates in France and Japan, organisers said.

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Levy and Moultrie to Star in Sammy Davis Jr. Musical Mr. Bojangles

By Andrew Gans
03 Feb 2006tour

A new musical celebrating the life of Sammy Davis Jr. will be presented at the Mohegan Sun Casino Feb. 22-26.

Entitled Mr. Bojangles, the Ultimate Entertainer, the production will be directed by Gerry Dedera and will tour major casinos around the country. The cast will feature two actors playing the legendary performer: Ted L. Levy, whose Broadway credits include Black and Blue and Jelly's Last Jam, and Juilliard graduate Darrell Grand Moultrie.

Mike Lewis penned the musical arrangements for the show, which is being produced by Jimmy Richards and Barrett LaRoda.

About the production director Dedera said in a statement, "The show will focus on Sammy's triumph over his own doubts and fears, and will recreate the once-in-a-lifetime experience of seeing Sammy live." Co-producer Richards added, "It will be the complete Sammy experience, and will tour with a dazzling showcase collection of Sammy's personal artifacts."

Among Davis' hit songs were "Candy Man," "I've Gotta Be Me," "Mr. Bojangles" and "What Kind of Fool Am I?"

 

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