Attention-Grabbing Performances Dominate Creative Cauldron’s ‘Blues in the Night’
Falls Church Theater Gets it Right in New Production
By Sara Dudley Brown
What I was expecting when I decided to check out Creative Cauldron’s new show, Blues in the Night, directed by Matt Conner and choreographed by Stephen Gregory Smith, was a predictable evening of jazz and blues standards. What I never expected was a toe-tapping, torchy, and touching evening of lost love, thwarted dreams, and strong but flawed female characters pouring their hearts out in gorgeous song and dance from the best of the jazz and blues artists and composers of the 1920’s and 30’s. There’s also a sexy hunk of a dirty dog (man), who has done them all wrong in some way.
It’s also a musically interesting show—mixing lovely solo pieces with three and four part torchy show stoppers. The cast, a small but powerful four members strong, is led by Iyona Blake as The Lady. As she proved in the recent productions I’ve seen, her voice and personality are simply a force of nature. Her singing is nuanced when it needs to be and bold, brassy and thrilling at other times in songs like “Lover Man,” “Kitchen Man,” and “Wasted Life Blues.” The Woman, Katie McManus, has a voice that is true and strong, as she sings “Stomping at the Savoy,” and Bessie Smith’s “Lush Life.” You ache for her especially when you realize that the man she was waiting for that night never really existed. The Girl, beautiful Raquel Gregory-Jennings, and The Man, sexily acted, danced and sung by Clifton Walker III, round out the cast.
The set is straightforward and effective and evokes a dimly-lit blues club of the jazz age era. The period costumes (jazzy form-fitting beaded and chiffon dresses in muted colors) pair well with the beautiful women’s hair styles and hats. The Man’s white suit and white wide-brimmed hat work perfectly as he slithers and expertly dances his way around the three women to music led by Walter “Bobby” McCoy on piano in a dynamite four-piece band.
If you haven’t guessed by now, it’s a fun, sexy and stimulating evening from start to poignant finish. How could it not be with the entire company offering such marvelous tunes as “When a Woman Loves a Man,” and “Nobody Knows You When You’re Down and Out”?
Do yourself a favor and find this gem of a theatre in Falls Church. Parking is easy and free. Blues in the Night runs February 9 through March 5, 2017. Show days and times: Thursday through Saturday at 8, Sundays at 2 and 7. Order your tickets at www.creativecauldron.org.
Sara Dudley Brown has recently joined the staff of The Zebra Press as its new Theatre Editor, and can be reached directly by email via [email protected]