Ella Fitzgerald musical in development starring Dee Dee Bridgewater

A new musical based on the Ella Fitzgerald songbook is currently in development.

The musical will star both Dee Dee Bridgewater and Charity Angél Dawson portraying the legendary jazz vocalist. The production is titled Ella: An American Miracle and was written by Anna Deavere Smith.

“Composers wanted Ella Fitzgerald to sing their songs because listening to her, they knew how their songs were supposed to be sung,” Smith said in a statement. “A jazz singer, a scat singer, she also famously both sang and defined the American songbook. To say she had humble beginnings is a profound understatement. She sang America through some of its most discordant times. She was America’s love song. She was an American miracle.”


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Bridgewater, a Tony winner and two-time Grammy winner, will portray the ghost of Fitzgerald. Dawson will play a young Ella.

The cast also includes Saint Aubyn, Angela Birchett, J. Bernard Calloway, Milanis Clark, Crystal Joy, Ken Marks, Jhardon Dishon Milton, Joshua Morgan, Rance Nix, Okwui Okpokwasili, Nick Rehberger, Jessica Rush, Deandre Sevon and Erica Sweany.

The musical will be holding a work session until Sept. 21, which will culminate in a private industry presentation.

Ella: An American Miracle is directed by Philip Wm. McKinley and choreographed by Ellenore Scott, with musical direction by jazz musician Mark G. Meadows. The producers are Steve J. Scarduzio and John Hart.