The legendary vocalist Sarah Vaughan (top photo), played by Tamar Davis (“The Voice” photo lower right), is both the music and muse in the lives of a devoted couple, accompanying their three-decade romance through courtship and marriage in Stephanie Berry’s new play, Sarah Sings a Love Story, premiering at Crossroads Theatre Company, New Brunswick, March 9-26.
The show also features Marva Hicks (“Motown the Musical,” “The Lion King”) and Curtiss Cook (“House of Cards”). Nat Adderley Jr. is musical director and Jeffery V. Thompson directs.
Sarah Sings a Love Story will be the final production in the theater at 7 Livingston Ave. as the city prepares to raze the building to make way for a new arts complex. For its 2017-18 season, Crossroads will launch “Crossroads on the Road,” an ambitious transitional program in venues around the state, while the arts complex rises in New Brunswick over the next two and a half years. It is expected to be completed by Fall 2019.
Throughout her career, Vaughan was recognized as a supremely gifted singer and performer. She was invited to perform at the White House and at venues like Carnegie Hall, was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Grammy in 1989 and was selected to join the Jazz Hall of Fame in 1990. She also received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Sarah Lois Vaughan was born in Newark, New Jersey, on March 27, 1924. Outside of their regular jobs—as a carpenter and as a laundress—her parents were also musicians. Growing up in Newark, a young Sarah Vaughan studied the piano and organ, and her voice could be heard as a soloist at Mount Zion Baptist Church.
Vaughan's first step toward becoming a professional singer was taken at a talent contest held at Harlem's Apollo Theater, where many African-American music legends made their name. After being dared to enter, she won the 1942 competition with her rendition of "Body and Soul." She also caught the attention of another vocalist, Billy Eckstine, who persuaded Earl Hines to hire Vaughan to sing with his orchestra.