What the Hell Are You Doing in the Waiting Room for Heaven??: "Hip Harpist" in Solo Show
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The last date listed for What the Hell Are You Doing in the Waiting Room for Heaven?? was Saturday August 23, 2008 / 8:00pm.
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Great show! Deborah is an amazing musician and vocalist, and an original personality, with hutspah coming out of every big pore (a reference to the show). The music alone makes it worthwhile. The story and fun are the icing on the cake. It's a blast!
What the Hell Are You Doing in the Waiting Room for Heaven?? takes the audience to the Waiting Room for Heaven, where auditioners for the Heavenly Choir are waiting to find out if they got in. It turns out there’s a new “No Soul Left Behind” policy in Heaven, so each audition group is assigned a casting coach. Deborah Henson-Conant plays Aubrey Giles, the coach for the remedial group — the group seated in the theater tonight. She’ll teach them the ins and outs of the devilishly difficult competition… but Aubrey has more than a few of her own inner demons to contend with. Experience the harp and soul of this 2007 Grammy-nominated performer.
Deborah Henson-Conant is a Grammy-nominated artist who sings and plays the harp, tells stories and composes symphonic music that runs the gamut from bombastic to tender. She has been described as “the wild woman of the harp” by bandleader Doc Severinsen and “the talented love-child of André Previn and Lucille Ball” by NPR’s Scott Simon. Her playing ranges from raucous to delicate and her performances blur the line between musical performance and theatrical event.
Deborah herself is impossible to categorize. She has made her own path, composing musical theater since the age of 12, first studying classical harp, then developing her own version of swing and Latin jazz and finally synthesizing all three elements into a new genre of musical performance. Her shows mix jazz, folk and flamenco with a theatrical narrative of storytelling and humor.
As a child, Deborah was passionate about music, but disdainful of lessons, and spent her time composing. Her parents tried every instrument they could think of to lead her to serious study, with mounting frustrations from both sides. When a rented harp showed up in the living room just as Deborah hit puberty, she grudgingly took a half-dozen lessons, then wailed, “This is a sissy instrument! And no-one will hold hands with me if I have calluses on my fingers!”
For the next ten years, Deborah didn’t touch a harp. Then suddenly her college band needed a harpist and those six lessons made her the resident expert. She studied music by day and played popular harp music in posh dining rooms by night. Then one night she’d had enough of both classical music and background performances. She dragged her six-foot gilded harp from a Boston hotel restaurant into an adjacent jazz club and said to the bandleader, “Can I sit in?” She started jamming on the blues and has never looked back. She’s now made more than a dozen recordings from jazz to children’s music and has become synonymous with her website: “HipHarp.com.”
Deborah Henson-Conant has toured with the Boston Pops as a guest soloist, premiered her own orchestral works with symphonies throughout the US, toured jazz clubs in Germany and Celtic Festivals in France, opened for Ray Charles at Tanglewood, starred in the PBS special Celtic Harpestry; been featured on NBC, CBS, CNN, NPR and has hosted TV shows for BET and BBC Affiliates. She’s been interviewed by Charlie Rose, Joan Rivers, Billy Taylor, Studs Terkel, Scott Simon, Jamie Gangel, and Susan Stamberg. She’s the Grammy-Nominated artist and star of “Invention & Alchemy,” her one-woman show with full orchestra, which debuted on PBS stations nationwide in March 2007.
Henson-Conant has revolutionized her instrument. She’s brought vibrant passion and individuality to its sound — and in the process she herself has been transformed. Her work is an exploration of possibilities — a transformation that moves her audience out of the ordinary and into the extraordinary. If you’re one of those people who thinks a harp is meant to soothe the savage beast, think again – this time it’s the savage beast who’s PLAYING the darned thing!
About the Ticket Supplier: Central Square Theater
The Central Square Theater is home to Underground Railway Theater (URT) and The Nora Theatre Company, two professional theater companies with a combined track record of over 48 years of excellence.
URT has a 29 year history of connecting high quality professional theater with communities, performing new plays for young audiences, families and adults, and teaching through its rigorous education programming. Combining actors, puppetry and music, URT reaches out to and engages diverse audiences with performances of great beauty and compelling social content.
During The Nora’s 19 years, audiences and the media have recognized it for its exceptionally high quality work. Mission-driven to bring cutting-edge, thought- provoking, and contemporary productions to New England audiences, The Nora has introduced local audiences to Boston, New England, and/or world premieres.