BY JOHN FLEMING
Times Performing Arts Critic
Lena Horne, Duke Ellington once said, was "an American standard.'' Her career spanned some eight decades, from the Cotton Club chorus to the movies Cabin in the Sky and Stormy Weather to a hit Broadway show, Lena Horne: The Lady and Her Music.
Horne died on May 9 — she was 92 — of a heart problem, and that's about the time Jayne Trinette began thinking of putting together a cabaret show in tribute to her. "I never want her to be forgotten,'' Trinette says. "She was such a silky singer, such a classy, all-around artist.''
This weekend, Trinette will be performing songs associated with Horne, such as The Very Thought of You, All of Me and The Lady is a Tramp, as part of the After Hours series at American Stage. She'll be accompanied by pianist James W. Crumbly Jr.
Last week, Trinette wasn't sure if she was going to include Stormy Weather, the song most identified with Horne. "I don't know if I want to do Stormy Weather because it's so sad,'' she said.
Trinette, who grew up in Greensboro, N.C., and went to North Carolina A&T, has some notable theater credits. For two years she was in the national tour of The Lion King, playing Shenzi, one of the hyenas. She was in the cast of the production of Tony Kushner's musical Caroline, or Change that played in Los Angeles and San Francisco.
She and her husband, photographer Bryan Butler, moved from New York to Tampa in 2008 after getting acquainted with the area during a run of The Lion King at the Straz Center for the Performing Arts. "It was so beautiful that I didn't want to leave, so my husband and I started looking for a home,'' she said. "I just didn't want to be in the cold anymore.'' They now live in Ybor City.
Trinette, who still goes to New York for auditions, recently turned 40. Instead of fretting about getting older, which can be a problem for actors, she sees it as an opportunity to play rich dramatic roles. Last year, she gave a strong performance as Rose, the wife of Troy Maxson, in August Wilson's Fences at American Stage.
"I'm at the age now where I can be approached for a role like Rose,'' she said. "That was one of the best experiences I've had in the theater.''
John Fleming can be reached at email@example.com or (727) 893-8716. He blogs on Critics Circle at tampabay.com/blogs/critics.