LEFT: Ella Fitzgerald in 1940. Photo by Carl Van Vechten, Library of Congress. RIGHT: Ella Fitzgerald with Chick Webb Orchestra (undated, uncredited).

Theater for the New City to present “Ella The Ungovernable,” a play by David McDonald about 15 year-old Ella Fitzgerald’s incarceration in Hudson, NY, in 1933 and the escape that launched her singing career.

Theater for the New City is set to present “Ella The Ungovernable,” a poignant play by David McDonald, from June 20 to July 7, 2024. This production reveals a little-known chapter of Ella Fitzgerald’s life: her 1933 incarceration and escape from the New York Training School for Girls in Hudson, which launched her legendary singing career. Performances will be held at 155 First Ave (at E. 10th Street) Thursdays through Saturdays at 8:00 PM, and Sundays at 3:00 PM.

McDonald, a filmmaker-turned-playwright, meticulously captures the resilience of 15-year-old Fitzgerald, who overcame significant adversity. The play stars Christian Neal as young Ella, with co-direction by McDonald and Michele Baldwin. Neal’s portrayal is complemented by Tyra Hughes as Alice, a fictional cellmate, and an ensemble cast that brings to life the harsh realities of Fitzgerald’s youth.

Rooted in extensive research, the play integrates songs like “A Tisket A Tasket,” highlighting Fitzgerald’s early musical influences. McDonald’s transition from film to theater embodies the community spirit of Theater for the New City, aiming to inspire with a message of perseverance.

For more information, visit Theater for the New City or call (212) 254-1109.


June 20 and July 7, 2024

Theater for the New City, 155 First Ave (at E. 10th Street)

Thursdays through Saturdays at 8:00 PM, Sundays at 3:00 PM

$18 gen adm., $15 seniors & students

Box office: www.theaterforthenewcity.net, (212) 254-1109

Running time: 90 min.

(via Jonathan Slaff; ChatGPT)

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