Theatre NOVA presents the Michigan premiere of this hit Off-Broadway musical celebration of the legendary Bessie Smith, whose life was as large and outrageous as her talent. The Devil’s Music” re-imagines Bessie’s final electrifying evening after she and her band are turned away by a whites-only theatre. This is a musical celebration not to be missed, packed with a trove of Bessie’s all-time hits, with songs like “I Ain’t Got Nobody,” “St. Louis Blues,” and “Tain’t Nobody’s Biz-ness If I Do.”

 

The Devil’s Music features K Edmonds as Bessie and Brian Buckner as her piano player, Pickle and is directed by Lynch Travis. The production team includes Forrest Hejkal (scenic design), Daniel C. Walker (lighting design), Brian Buckner (music direction), Haley Cook (costume design), and Michelle Resnick (stage manager). 

 

Mar. 30-Apr. 22, 2018

EXTENDED THROUGH SUNDAY, APRIL 29!!!!!

Thu., Fri., and Sat. @ 8:00pm and Sun @ 2:00pm. ​

 

ENCORE MICHIGAN
Bessie Smith sings and lives the blues at Theatre Nova

 

“To experience the show in the 70-seat black-box, Edmonds soulful, heartfelt singing without microphone is a beautiful step back to the 1920s–the show feeling a bit like you are lucky to be catching Smith in an after-hours room singing and strutting her stuff. Buckner has taken these old tunes and done arrangements that make them feel freshly vibrant without losing their century-old soul. Director Lynch Travis does a fine job of directing the two actors, and letting the big talent of both illuminate the material and the subject without dialing in too much stagecraft.."

 

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PULP: Arts Around Ann Arbor
KIND OF BLUES: K EDMONDS CHANNELS A SASSY BESSIE SMITH AT THEATRE NOVA

 

“Director Lynch Travis makes fine use of the small, intimate Theatre Nova space by having Edmonds dance, swagger, and sashay across the tiny “house-party” space, drawing the audience toward her and into her story. The music isn’t random and Travis makes the connections clear as Smith unreels her story under the influence of an ever-handy glass of alcohol, usually gin, but white lightnin’ if she can get it. Yet Edmonds is never a stage drunk, as she and Travis do not let Smith become a caricature.

Buckner brings an uptown gait, an expressively mobile face, and a killer smile to the role of Pickle. Equally important, he knows when to rein it in and respond seriously to Smith’s troubled story.

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It's All Theatre
Bessie Smith in Song and Story at Theatre Nova

 

K Edmonds plays Bessie with verve and passion...  She’s assisted onstage by Brian Buckner who, besides being the show’s musical director, provides piano accompaniment to Edmonds’s vocals and contributes commentary and banter as the character Pickle. Edmonds does a fabulous job of interpreting a dozen or so of Smith’s songs...She also nicely captures the brashness and swagger of Bessie’s onstage persona.  Pickle/Buckner provides a nice contrast to the blues-laden life and music of Bessie. With a winning smile and a feel-good attitude, he adds pleasant vibes... “The Devil’s Music” is a stellar directorial effort by Lynch Travis. The 70 minutes or so that the show clocks in at are a nicely crafted mix of song, story, humor, and history of the times."

 

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WE LOVE ANN ARBOR
Jenn’s Take: Theatre Nova’s “Devil’s Music” Makes For Darn Good Company

 

Edmonds – dressed by costume designer Haley Cook in a sparkling, floor-length, short-sleeved gown and a long, knotted strand of pearls (with era-appropriate finger waves to boot) – embodies Smith’s charming fearlessness, wit, and confidence while also imbuing the more painful parts of Smith’s history with gravitas. Director Lynch Travis presents “Devil’s Music” in a way that maximizes Theatre Nova’s intimate space, so that Edmonds’ connection with the audience feels personal. And Buckner, who pulls double duty as the show’s music director and Edmonds’ co-star, is a perfect addition, ably providing the musical backdrop for the evening’s set list while also, as Pickle, responding to Bessie’s pronouncements with teasing, affectionate support, or occasional pushback. The two, as longtime musical collaborators, feel like they are each other’s family, with Pickle accepting his role in Bessie’s shadow."

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This activity is supported by the
Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs
and the National Endowment for the Arts.

©2018 Theatre NOVA, 410 W Huron St., Ann Arbor, MI 48103 • A2TheatreNOVA@gmail.com • 734.635.8450 • EIN 47-1762735 

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