Ella Fitzgerald: First Lady of Song at MetroStage Thursday, Jan. 22

Starring in a biographic jukebox musical requires a lot from actors. For one, they have to embody a well-known person without resorting to caricature, and they have to sing well enough to keep the crowd from wishing they were hearing the real deal. Sometimes (Jennifer Holliday in Dreamgirls) this works; other times (anyone who’s ever tried to play Elvis or a member of The Beatles onstage) it does not. So MetroStage is placing plenty of faith in Freda Payne, who will star in the company’s production of Ella Fitzgerald: First Lady of Song. She’s got the vocal chops—remember her 1970 divorce anthem “Band of Gold”?—and knows how to summon the emotion required to sing Fitzgerald’s legendary songs. Dance legend Maurice Hines, who conceived the show after meeting Fitzgerald in Las Vegas in 1960, crosses the Potomac to direct and choreograph the show after starring in his own piece at Arena Stage. His personal touches make this more than your standard song and dance show.The show runs Jan. 23 to March 16 at MetroStage, 1201 North Royal St., Alexandria. $55–$60. (703) 548-9044. metrostage.org.

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