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  • Southern Appalachian Repertory Theater’s Annual Play Competition

  • Produced at the National Black Theater Festival


1 African-American Actress/Singer

1 Piano Player

1 Set


Depressed and alone in New York City in 1977, haunted by nightmares she doesn’t understand of a lineup of skeletal men in pajama-like uniforms, each wearing a pink triangle, Alberta Hunter struggles to decide if she will return to professional singing after receiving an offer from Barney Josephson, owner of The Cookery in Greenwich Village.  As she struggles with her decision, she remembers her life that has brought her to this point. 

As a child of fourteen, she ran away from home, Memphis, Tennessee, driven by a need to make money so she would never have to rely on any man in her life.  She landed a job in Dago Frank’s, a sportini’ house, for ten dollars a week, “a fortune.”  Her popularity increased as people who would never be caught in a sportin’ house came to hear the “new” music, Jazz.  Hounded by the men in the sportin’ house who liked young girls, Alberta reveals the reason she left Memphis.  Her school principal molested her, and she could not bring herself to return to school and face him. 

From Dago Frank’s, Alberta’s career blossoms, taking her into the recording business, Broadway, vaudeville, and finally to Europe, where she became a huge success.  With her all the way was her fear of discovery of her driving shame of her own lesbianism, and this shame becomes a wedge that separates her from her true love, Lottie. 

But in Europe in the late 30s, she must face towering prejudice that eclipses her own and eventually drives her from the continent:  Nazism.  To fight the awful bigotry of Nazism, Alberta joins the USO and spreads the joy of her talent throughout the world, to men in uniform. 

War over, her career gone because of the popularity of Rock and Roll, her mother dead, Alberta lies about her age and turns to her new career, that of a nurse.  For 22 years she worked faithfully as a nurse, till she was forced to retire because they thought she was 70 years old.  She was actually 82.  Again she faced bigotry, this time in the form of ageism. 

Haunted by the memory of the holocaust and her own horror that her “private” life will be discovered, Alberta must face the Nazi in her own heart before she can decide whether or not she can re-enter the public life by accepting Barney Josephson’s offer.


What The Critics Say


“The very dramatic writing of Larry Parr enabled us to understand American entertainment houses.  It also skillfully highlighted prejudices against women of that era, especially blacks and those who lead different lifestyles.”  Justin White, The Gleaner, Jamaica.


“This show swings with a sweet mix of music and story that tells about singer Alberta Hunter’s fascinating life.  Larry Parr deserves his prize as a winner of the Southern Appalachian Repertory Theatre’s Annual Play Competition.  A counterpoint to the musical theme is the emphasis on bigotry and the way it warps the song of life.  As  a black lesbian, Hunter suffered the sour notes of prejudice at a time when such things weren’t discussed.”  Anne Barnhill, Winston-Salem News and Record.


“Southern Appalachian Repertory Theater takes some btg chances, but comes up a big winner with its latest world premiere production, MY CASTLE’S ROCKIN’, the life story of the late, great Jazz singer, Alberta Hunter.  Playwright Larry Parr paints a vivid portrait of a lonely, determined, caring woman who faced pain and trouble throughout her life, but was always able to keep up.  The show really hits home with this line:  ‘There are lots of people to hate, if that’s what you want to do.’  How true.”  Tony Kiss, Asheville Citizen Times.


“Larry Parr, who turned the life of actress Hattie McDaniel into the popular one-woman show, HI-HAT HATIE, has achieved something even more probing and moving with MY CASTLE’S ROCKIN’.  The musical tale is alternately funny and haunting and affecting.”  Jay Handelman, Sarasota Herald-Tribune.


“...a triumphant evening of theater thanks to a moving, funny script by Larry Parr.”  Chris Narloch, Outword.


“It’s a marvelous script that entertains and educates the viewer about this long-lived but somewhat forgotten blues legend.  Larry Parr’s play of Hunter’s life balances neatly on several key events in Hunter’s life.”  Roger Moore, Winston-Salem Journal.


“Larry Parr has written a wonderful script that pulls the audience right into the life of jazz great Alberta Hunter.  The play is well balanced, the light moments keeping the dark from being too depressing.”  Faye M. Dasen, Southern Pines Carolina.








































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