THE DEVIL’S MUSIC

THE DEVIL’S MUSIC: THE LIFE AND BLUES OF BESSIE SMITH (Royal Manitoba Theatre Center, 2015 and Merrimack Repertory Theatre, 2014). Written by Angelo Parra, directed and conceived by Joe Brancato, with musical direction and starring Miche Braden. Also starring Jim Hankins (Bass), Aaron Graves (Piano), and Anthony Nelson Jr (Saxaphone). Costumes by Patricia Doherty and Lighting by Todd O. Wren. RMTC Photos by Randy Harder.

Miche Braden as Bessie Smith with Jim Hankins(Bass), Aaron Graves(Piano), and Anthony Nelson, Jr.(Saxaphone).

“A Memphis “buffet flat” in 1937, richly rendered by Scenic Designer James J. Fenton, is the perfect backdrop for Bessie to strut her stuff, sing her signature songs, and tell the story of her tumultuous life.” BROADWAY WORLD.COM by Nancy Grossman

“Braden makes you feel like you are one of the intimate few in the after-hours "buffet flat"in 1937 Memphis – a beautiful set designed by James J. Fenton.” THE TELEGRAPH by Kathleen Palmer

“James J. Fenton’s tasteful parlour set sports burgundy patterned wallpaper, an open bar and a band area for the outstanding trio of pianist Aaron Graves, bassist Jim Hankins and saxophonist Anthony E. Nelson Jr. This is where Smith spends her final night.” WINNIPEG FREE PRESS by Kevin Prokosh

“Scenic designer James J. Fenton’s authentic-looking, 1937, luxurious reproduction of a “buffet flat” in Memphis, Tenn., where Black performers gathered post-performance, to relax and unwind, provides a rich glimpse into a segregated past that Smith disregarded,overcame, and reigned over, dissipating color lines between her fans. And she knew it.” THEATRE MIRROR by Sheila Barth

“What’s almost as striking is Braden’s sheer confidence as a stage personality. Under the unobtrusive direction of Joe Brancato, she casually masters a tricky combination of concert performance and drama, breaking the "fourth wall” repeatedly (and off-handedly), so we seem to be “with” Bessie on the last night of her life, casually sharing the back room of what used to be called a “buffet flat” (here lavishly evoked by designer James J. Fenton)." THE HUB REVIEW by Thomas Garvey

Miche Braden as Bessie Smith and Anthony Nelson, Jr.(Saxaphone).