* Who: Melba Moore.
* When: 8 p.m. Saturday.
* Where: Rosslyn Spectrum Theatre, Arlington.
It's not often you get to see a Broadway legend in the intimate confines of a place such as the Rosslyn Spectrum, which makes Melba Moore's appearance this weekend a knockout for fans of musical theater.
Best known for her multiple award-winning role in "Purlie," as well as in "Hair" and "The Wiz," Moore will be presenting her one-woman revue, "Songs My Mother Taught Me." It's a cabaret evening of Broadway and pop standards and, one imagines, some stirring gospel material from her latest CD, "I'm Still Here."
Born in New York City and raised in New Jersey, Moore had a saxophone-playing dad and a singing mom. She earned a degree in music education and taught for a while before her 1968 debut in the musical "Hair," where she played a variety of parts, ultimately replacing Diane Keaton in the lead role. In "Purlie," Moore originated the part of an innocent Southern domestic who falls for a fast-talking preacher, and the accolades poured in: New York Drama Critics Award, Drama Desk Award and Tony Award for Best Supporting Actress in a Musical -- the first time a black actress won the honors.
From Broadway, where she also led in "The Wiz," Moore moved onto television ("The Melba Moore/Clifton Davis Show" and the miniseries "Ellis Island") and recording. Her rhythm-and-blues and pop hits include "This Is It," "You Stepped Into My Life," the Grammy-nominated single "Lean on Me" and album "Read My Lips".
In 1996, Moore returned to Broadway to take over the role of Fantine in "Les Miserables" and, more recently, toured in the one-woman musical play "Sweet Songs of the Soul." For a talent such as Moore, with a four-octave voice, solid reputation as an actress and big-time stage presence, the one-woman show format would seem a natural. And the cozy 387-seat theater is an ideal place to experience it.
Moore's appearance at the Spectrum also marks the launch of a new cabaret season there. The four-night series will continue Dec. 14 with a Cabaret Showcase featuring top regional performers and musical director Rick Jensen. In 2003, Sam Harris and Andrea Marcovicci are scheduled to perform.
-- Marianne Meyer
The Rosslyn Spectrum Theatre is in the Rosslyn Plaza Building at 1611 North Kent St., Arlington, next to the former Newseum building. The theatre is two blocks from the Rosslyn Metro station on the Orange and Blue lines. There is also free parking in the garage entered from Arlington Ridge Road. Tickets are $35, available through www.tickets.com, by phone at 703-218-6500 or at all Olsson's Books & Records stores and select Coconuts and Record Town locations. For more info, call 703-228-1850 (TDD: 703-228-4641) or visit www.arlingtonarts.org.
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