Ella still shining at the Guthrie

If you haven't yet seen Ella, the Guthrie's presentation of the life of the First Lady of Song, it's well worth the trip. The show plays for two more weeks, through Sept. 20.

Tina Fabrique shines as the star of this musical, which tells the personal story of jazz's leading lady. The staging is simple -- Ella narrates her past through words and song, as her band members take on the role of the various men in her life. By the second act, the reminiscing is over and Ella's story continues through a concert she gives in Paris shortly after the funeral of her sister Frances -- the one person in the world who truly knew her.

The musical is a close-up look at the conflicting drives that droves this legend: family life and normalcy versus the deep desire to perform and be a star. Fabrique, making her debut at the Guthrie, is a wonderful Ella -- her vocal range includes the ability to sing everything from the ballad to the cheesy "novelty" piece and pays proper homage to the Queen of Jazz. Like Fitzgerald, Fabrique's best moments come when she scats. Here's a clip on the Guthrie Web site:

The band, too, is first-rate, featuring four accomplished musicians who are as standout as the star. This is a show for music lovers, and its energy will keep you smiling throughout the performance.