Geffen’s ‘Cookin’ up season finale

Play is first prod'n while Westwood gets facelift

The Geffen Playhouse will conclude its season with a third music-related piece — “Cookin’ at the Cookery: The Music and Times of Alberta Hunter.”

Written and directed by Marion J. Caffey, “Cookin’ at the Cookery” will be the Geffen’s first production at the Brentwood Theater while the Westwood venue is undergoing renovations. Previews begin June 15 with opening night on June 24. It runs through July 25.

Set in Greenwich Village nitery the Cookery in 1977, musical covers the life of blues and jazz singer and songwriter Alberta Hunter. A Memphis native, Hunter started performing in Chicago brothels around 1910 and started recording in 1921. In 1923 she was the first black woman to sing for an all-white band.

After touring USO spots in the 1940s, Hunter left show business for nursing in 1956 and, with the exception of a 1961 recording, stayed away until 1977 when she began appearing regularly at the Cookery and recorded four albums for Columbia Records before her death in 1984. A documentary on Hunter, “Remember My Name,” was made soon after her return to performing.

The Geffen opened its 2003-04 season with “I Just Stopped by to See the Man,” which concerned a young white rock star meeting his blues idol. Next up at the Geffen is “War Music,” based on events in the lives of composers Frank Bridge, Anton Webern and Olivier Messiaen.

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