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THE DEVIL'S MUSIC: THE LIFE AND BLUES OF BESSIE SMITH OFF-BROADWAY REVIEWS

Opening Night: June 22, 2011

Show NY TIMES TM SBW DAILY NEWS ONLINE BACKSTAGE
Broadway Review Broadway Review Broadway Review Broadway Review Broadway Review

Synopsis: Sexy and racy, blues singer Bessie Smith was the definition of a Red Hot Mamma and the most successful entertainer of her time. On the eve of her tragic death in 1937, Bessie takes center stage in The Devil's Music: The Life and Blues of Bessie Smith and tells the story of her amazing life and career, her loves and losses. Put your troubles aside and soak up the blues as Bessie Smith comes to life and sings the songs that made her so unforgettable, including "St. Louis Blues," "Need a Little Sugar in My Bowl," and "Nobody Knows You When You're Down and Out."

Off-Broadway Tickets
Off-Broadway Tickets

Broadway Reviews

NEW YORK TIMES REVIEW:

"When Miche Braden plants herself at the front of the stage, shimmies a little and sings the blues, “The Devil’s Music: The Life and Blues of Bessie Smith” finds its reason for being. As Bessie, Ms. Braden has the requisite big voice — she knows when to let it soar and when to keep it at an insinuatingly low simmer — and her committed performance gives you glimmers of what the bawdy-talking, hooch-swilling (she hates the store-bought stuff), unapologetically bisexual Bessie must have been like. "

Click here to read the full "The Devil's Music: The Life And Blues Of Bessie Smith" review.

THEATERMANIA REVIEW:

"Shows about celebrated entertainers are a tricky business. The actor pretending to be a famous star must not necessarily do an impersonation, but, at the least, project both the charisma and the talent of an icon. "

Click here to read the full "The Devil's Music: The Life And Blues Of Bessie Smith" review.

SHOW BUSINESS WEEKLY REVIEW:

"Like many entries in the bio-concert genre, The Penguin Rep Theatre’s tribute to blues legend Bessie Smith takes a straightforward approach. The show takes place in real time, on the last evening of Smith’s life. The setting is a “buffet flat”, the term given to after-hours spots, often created in people’s apartments, in which African Americans could eat, drink, socialize and sexualize in a time when white-owned hotels would not accommodate them. Here Bessie is amongst friends and holds nothing back from her audience, especially after numerous nips of bootleg liquor. Through song and story, she unapologetically recounts the ups and downs of her freewheeling life while trading barbs with the guys in her backup band. Though years of hard living have taken their toll on Bessie’s constitution, she can still belt with the power and beauty that earned her the sobriquet Queen of The Blues. "

Click here to read the full "The Devil's Music: The Life And Blues Of Bessie Smith" review.

THE DAILY NEWS ONLINE REVIEW:

""There's some that calls the blues the devil's music. Well, honey, I done danced to the devil's music. So, I gotta give the devil his due.""

Click here to read the full "The Devil's Music: The Life And Blues Of Bessie Smith" review.

BACKSTAGE REVIEW:

"I can't help it. When I think of Bessie Smith, it's Linda Hopkins in "Me and Bessie" (which Hopkins wrote with Will Holt) that comes to mind. It's been 36 years since I saw her in it at the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles, but she's stayed with me as the definitive Bessie Smith, and of course the cast album plays even more powerfully than Smith's original, primitively recorded sides from the 1920s and '30s. My feeling may be unfair to Miche Braden, who certainly proves that she has the voice, attitude, and persistence to play and sing Bessie in the 80-minute "The Devil's Music: The Life and Blues of Bessie Smith." And the Smith songs we most want to hear are all here: "'Tain't Nobody's Business If I Do," "St. Louis Blues," "Nobody Knows You When You're Down and Out," "I Need a Little Sugar in My Bowl," and "A Hot Time in the Old Town Tonight." A superb trio of musicians provides the accompaniment throughout: Aaron Graves on piano, Keith Loftis on saxophone, and Jim Hankins on bass. Hankins also plays the only other character in the show, the sour-faced Pickle, Bessie's foil."

Click here to read the full "The Devil's Music: The Life And Blues Of Bessie Smith" review.

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