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Grimm has role in play showcasing Gershwin's works

Jennifer Grimm, an Ellsworth native, has a role in the new production about Ira Gershwin at Park Square Theatre in downtown Saint Paul. Among scenes from the show is one with Grimm, T. Mychael Rambo and Ari Hoptman. (Submitted photo)

Park Square brings a big splash of Ira Gershwin to the holiday entertainment season with “Words by Ira Gershwin and the Great American Songbook” on stage now through Sunday, Dec. 29.

Ellsworth native Jennifer Grimm portrays the Chanteuse.

This new work by Joseph Vass is a song-filled reminiscence exploring the creative life and unforgettable lyrics of Gershwin. Vass’ “The Soul of Gershwin”—about the life and musical influences of his brother, George Gershwin—set attendance records in 2011 and earned Vass an Ivey Award for exceptional music direction.

This play with music (lots of music!) is about the creative process.

“Ira Gershwin could write glibly or wittily or movingly when called on,” said Vass. “But sung to his brother’s music, even Ira Gershwin’s most outwardly conversational song lyrics can hit with the impact of poetry.”

In addition to beloved songs that were brotherly collaborations of Ira’s lyrics and George’s music are wonderful songs that Ira wrote with composers Harold Arlen, Vernon Duke, Jerome Kern and Kurt Weill.

“Audiences will fall in love with the quiet character that is Ira Gershwin,” said Artistic Director Richard Cook. “Especially as played by Joe’s first choices for the roles.”

The play was originally produced at North Coast Repertory Theatre, Solana Beach, Calif., with David Ellenstein as artistic director.

Performances continue through Dec. 29. Show times are 7:30 p.m., except for Sunday performances, which begin at 2 p.m. Saturday shows offer both a 2 p.m. matinee and 7:30 p.m. evening performance. All performances are in the company’s intimate 348-seat theater in Saint Paul’s historic Hamm Building, 20 W. Seventh Pl.

Tickets are on sale at the Park Square box office, 20 W. Seventh Pl., or by phone: 651.291.7005, (noon-5 p.m. Monday through Friday), or online at