The Devil’s Music
The Devil’s Music: The Life and Blues of Bessie Smith, is at St. Luke’s Theater and I have a soft spot in my heart for St. Luke’s Theater (that’s where I was in My Big Fat Gay Wedding!). This one has got great subject matter. Bessie Smith was a woman who lived life large and made no bones about who she was or what was important to her. The problem is that her music begins to sound all the same after a while and the second half of the 90-minute show is significantly better than the first; the pace needs to be picked up in the first half. On the other hand, I’m seeing this very early, so maybe they’ll take care of some of the pacing of the first half as the production goes on. Miche Braden plays Bessie and her back-up band is great including Pickle, who plays the bass, in addition to her pianist and the guy on the saxophone. It’s kind of raunchy. The audience was about half Caucasian and half African-American, and I think the African-American group got sort of a bigger kick out of it than everybody else, but it is fun if you like Bessie Smith. If it’s tightened a little bit, it could be a really fabulous experience. Now it’s two and a half stars.