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Votes

A Jazz Life

"Side Man" comes to James Lee Center.

Providence "Side Man" rehearsal – left to right: John Coscia (Gene), Ari Post (Clifford) and Andra Whitt (Terry).

Providence "Side Man" rehearsal – left to right: John Coscia (Gene), Ari Post (Clifford) and Andra Whitt (Terry). Photo Courtesy of the Providence Players

An award-winning drama, "Side Man" is next up for the Providence Players. It is a memory play that captures the beat and rhythms of the New York City jazz scene from the 1950s until the late '70s. "With rich characters and a cadence of sharp dialogue that is simply marvelous this is a show with many layers, all underscored with jazz music," Director Jimmy Hertzog said.

"Side Man" centers around Clifford (Ari Post) who narrates the story of his mother (Andra Whitt) and father Gene (John Coscia), a talented trumpet player whose career fades with the down turn in the jazz scene with the ascendancy of rock-and-roll and other music forms. "It is about life on the edge, with the charismatic centerpiece of a talented musician father," Coscia said.

The show chronicles "someone more dedicated to his music and band mates than to his own family. It is an account of a group of people in a time and place that existed for about 30 years after WWII and is no more, and yet speaks to us still." according to Coscia.

For Post, his role is of a son "with many struggles as he looks back-and-forth on his own life caring for the adults in his life." Often he "turns and speaks directly to the audience to narrate what he remembers and then steps back into the action." For Whitt, her role is an opportunity "to play a very complex, beautifully written character living a chaotic life. One moment she is fuming and the next working to make her marriage work as a loving couple."

When and Where

James Lee Community Center Theater, 2855 Annandale Road, Falls Church, VA 22042. Performances: March 23-April 7. Thursday, Friday, and Saturday 7:30 p.m. March 23, 24, 29, 30, 31, April 5, 6 & 7, Sunday Matinees 2:00 p.m. March 25 & April 1. Tickets: $15-$18. Call: 703-425-6782 or visit http://www.providenceplayers.thundertix.com. Note: Side Man is not for young audiences. It contains mature themes and graphic language.

The play, written by Warren Leight, was the winner of the 1999 Tony Award for Best Play and a Pulitzer Prize nominee. "Side Man" ran for more than 500 performances on Broadway. The title comes from jazz parlance; a sideman is a free lance musician taking gigs when opportunities arise able to perform solos when called.

Featuring a seven member cast, the show will include plenty of "wry" humor and jazz music underscoring through out to add the flavor of the now vanished time and place according to Hertzog. The set by Raedun Knutsen will place the audience into the action both in a bar as well as the home turf of the family. Through set decoration by Kathy White and props by Susan Kaplan the audience will have visual clues matching the dialogue.