While Penumbra Theatre's brand-new show, I Wish You Love, is loaded with the classic music of Nat King Cole, don't think of it as a jukebox musical. Instead, Dominic Taylor's creation uses a specific moment and place in time to explore Cole's music in the larger context of the civil rights struggle and life for an African-American entertainer in Eisenhower's America. Dennis W. Spears stars as Cole as he presents his popular television show in 1957, at a moment when the Civil Rights Movement was about to explode. Spears is an original member of Moore by Four, and has recorded a trio of solo records. He has also performed in numerous Penumbra shows, including versions of Black Nativity, The Piano Lesson, and Blue. Cole's songs—from "Get Your Kicks on Route 66" and "Let There Be Love"—will be a featured part of the show, but the performer's role in the larger movement will be the real hook for the evening. Following the run in St. Paul, the production will move on to Washington, D.C., for performances at the Kennedy Center.
Wednesdays-Sundays, 7:30 p.m.; Sundays, 2 p.m. Starts: April 21. Continues through May 22, 2011