In May 2017 the Norwich and Norfolk, and Bath festivals premiered a one-woman musical show, Stormy: the Life of Lena Horne, co-produced by the Copasetic Foundation with Lone Wolves Productions. In her script and performance Camilla Beeput tells the untold story behind Lena Horne’s glamorous career as dancer, movie star, activist, singer – and the first black actor to break the Hollywood stereotype. Under the direction of Olivier Award-winning actor/writer/director Clarke Peters (Five Guys Named Moe, The Wire) and Maxwell Golden, Stormy brings Lena back to life alongside a five-piece band directed by pianist Alex Webb providing thrilling musical evocations of the eras that Horne lived through in her 60 years in show business. All the songs are written by Camilla Beeput and Alex Webb and arranged by Webb. See https://www.stormyshow.com/ for more information.Camilla Beeput as Lena Horne.
For the 2015 London Jazz Festival, Alex Webb and arranger Frank Griffith re-staged their 2010 words and music show about Duke Ellington’s co-composer for Billy Strayhorn’s centenary year. ‘Lush Life: the Songs of Billy Strayhorn’ was staged at the Cadogan Hall with a ten-piece band and the participation of vocalists David McAlmont, Sandra Nkake and Allan Harris.David McAlmont, Allan Harris and Sandra Nkake. (David McAlmont image credit: Anthony Elvy Photography)
In 2011 Alex Webb created a more ambitious dramatised show, originally called ‘Jazz at Cafe Society’. With a cast of 12 musicians and principals, it told the story of the New York venue which was the first racially desegregated night club in the city, and hosted many of the top music names of its time (1938-1949) including Billie Holiday, Sarah Vaughan, Count Basie and many others. In 2011 this played the Purcell Room and, in 2012, a week at the Tricycle Theatre thanks to some private financial assistance. The run was entirely sold out and the show received excellent reviews in the Times, FT and Evening Standard (and elsewhere). Renamed Cafe Society Swing, the show was repeated at Finchley Arts Depot, and at the Leicester Square Theatre in 2013 and 2014. In 2014 it had a three-week run at New York’s 59E59 Theatres with an all-American cast MD’d by Alex Webb, where it won a rave review and ‘critics’ pick’ from the New York Times. A concert version of the show is available for club and festival work.
In 2013 Alex Webb created a multi-media show with the film workshop Bebop Productions about the life of jazz musician Charlie Parker, which played at the Purcell Room as part of the London Jazz Festival. ‘Charlie Parker on Dial’ used projections of archive photographs as well as bespoke abstract imagery and a spoken narrative by Sirena Riley to tell the story of the two years Parker was with the Dial record label. Alto saxophonist Nathaniel Facey fronted the show, along with trumpeter Freddie Gavita; Webb wrote the arrangements. Once again it received excellent reviews (and a simplified version of the show is now available for club and festival work).
‘Old, New Borrowed and Blue’, a show which explored jazz and blues songwriting with the help of leading UK vocalists Ian Shaw, Liane Carroll and Tammy Weis. It was performed at the Royal Opera House Paul Hamlyn Hall and the Blackheath Halls in November 2009.