Bessie Smith would go on to inspire Billie Holiday, Aretha Franklin and Janis Joplin
The Devil’s Music: The Life And Blues Of Bessie Smith, starring singer and actress Miche Braden of the original Off-Broadway production (named one of the 10 Best Off-Broadway productions of the year by the N.Y. Daily Times).
The Devil’s Music: The Life And Blues Of Bessie Smith is conceived and directed by Joe Brancato of Penguin Rep, and written by Angelo Parra. Set in 1937 in Memphis, Bessie and her musicians have been turned away from performing at a “Whites-Only” theatre, then finding a hospitable gin joint where Bessie recounts her incredible journey from an impoverished childhood in Chattanooga, to her fortuitous rise as a show-stopping singer. Laughter, pathos and music all come together to deliver an electric, entertaining and surprisingly touching evening.
Bessie Smith would go on to inspire Billie Holiday, Aretha Franklin and Janis Joplin. Tragically, Bessie’s career was cut short in a car crash when she was only 43. Her funeral was held in Philadelphia a week later, with over 7,000 mourners paying their respects. In this play the singer recounts her highs and lows in music and love with raucous humor and mirthful regret tinged with an unshakable foreboding.
Braden is joined by musicians Gerard Gibbs on Piano, Anthony Nelson Jr. on Sax and James Hankins on Bass. Gibbs also plays Pickle, who serves as narrator and guide at times, while coaxing Bessie to tell her story.
Bessie Smith opens in Ventura on Saturday, Feb. 25 at 7:00 p.m., followed by a post-show party with cast, crew and local VIPs at NOW Ventura. Low-priced previews are February 22-24. The show runs Wednesdays through Sundays through March 12. For tickets, go to www.rubicontheatre.org or call 667-2900.