The Devil’s Music:
The Life & Blues of Bessie Smith
By Angelo Parra | Conceived and Directed by Joe Brancato
Musical Arrangements by and Starring Miche Braden
At the Atlas Performing Arts Center, Lang Theatre
August 24-October 1, 2017
Mosaic’s Season Three launches with this hit Off-Broadway musical celebration of the legendary Bessie Smith, whose life was as large and outrageous as her talent. Starring Miche Braden, reprising the role she originated Off-Broadway, The Devil’s Music re- imagines Bessie’s final electrifying evening after she and her band are turned away by a whites-only theater. This is a musical celebration not to be missed, packed with a trove of Bessie’s all-time hits—songs like “I Ain’t Got Nobody,” “St. Louis Blues,” and “Tain’t Nobody’s Bizness If I Do.”
For a list of post-show programming, please click here!
Generously underwritten by Andrew R. Ammerman
With additional support from Evelyn Sandground & Bill Perkins
“... convincingly illuminates the singer in all her tormented, disappointed, gifted complexity...”
“... Mosaic Theater Company ignites its third season with a sure hit, a proven crowd-pleaser about the Empress of Blues...”
NOW EXTENDED THROUGH
Atlas Performing Arts Center
1333 H Street NE
Washington, DC 20002
202-399-7993 ext 2
Box Office Hours
Box office does NOT take calls two hours prior to a show's curtain, but will return all voice messages left during that time.
Will Call opens one hour prior to curtain.
Patrons who arrive late will be seated at the discretion of management.
Wed September 20 at 8PM
Thurs September 21 at 8PM | Cast talkback
Fri September 22 at 8PM
Sat September 23 at 3PM
Sat September 23 at 8PM
Sun September 24 at 3PM | Post show discussion
Sun September 24 at 7:30PM
Wed September 27 at 11AM
Wed September 27 at 8PM
Thurs September 28 at 8PM | Post show discussion
Sat Sept 30 at 3PM
Sat Sept 30 at 8PM | Post show discussion
Sun Oct 1 at 3PM | Post show discussion
Sun Oct 1 at 7:30PM
“The huge reservoir of outrage from which Smith draws her profane interpretive power — and on which she focuses her lung power — comes through in Braden’s subversively raunchy portrayal, too. In such numbers as “T’aint Nobody’s Bizness If I Do,” “St. Louis Blues,” “I Ain’t Got Nobody” and “I Need a Little Sugar in My Bowl,” the expressions of tragedy, pain, passion and seduction allow an audience to sense the presence of Bessie’s devils as well as her better angels.” – Peter Marks, The Washington Post
"It would be tough to name who is the bigger draw in Mosaic Theater Company’s regal production of The Devil’s Music: The Life and Blues of Bessie Smith (★★★★). Both Smith, the pioneering Empress of the Blues, and Miche Braden, the show’s star, musical director and arranger, put forth a strong case for dropping your own blues at the door and grabbing a seat for this musical confessional.”– Andre Hereford, Metro Weekly
"Miche Braden is the biggest force of nature this side of Hurricane Harvey. She personifies the “Empress of the Blues” Bessie Smith with a powerful voice, enormous talent, a powerful stage presence, and a big heart. As a result, The Devil’s Music: The Life and Blues of Bessie Smith provides a fabulous kickoff to Mosaic Theater Company’s new season.” – Steven McKnight, DC Theatre Scene
“In what is surely the most badass, take-no-prisoners performance by a musical artist on a DC stage in recent memory, Miche Braden brings her sensational star turn as Bessie Smith to H Street, belting out the blues and setting the house afire with heartbreak and deliverance.”- John Stoltenberg, DC Metro Theater Arts
“this bombastic musical lifts its company, Mosaic Theater of DC, into a whole new era, justifying its recent naming as Helen Hayes Award-winning Best Emerging Company in the area.” – Ravelle Brickman, DC Metro Theater Arts
Meet the Artists
Miche Braden (Performer/Musical Director/Musical Arrangements) is a singer, actor, musician, songwriter, arranger, and musical director. She is a product of the rich musical heritage of her hometown, Detroit, where she was an in residence with the Detroit Council of the Arts, the founder and former lead singer of Straight Ahead (women's jazz band), and was a protégé of Motown musicians Thomas "Beans" Bowles, Earl Van Dyke (leader of The Funk Brothers), and jazz master composer Harold McKinney.
Miche's performance as Bessie Smith in The Devil's Music in New York earned the show several coveted award nominations: The Drama Desk "Best Actress in a Musical"; Off Broadway Alliance "Special Event"; and The Lucille Lortel and Audelco "Best Solo Show." Michel was also nominated for the coveted Carbonell Award in Florida and the Connecticut Critics Award.
Recently, Miche portrayed Mammy in the 2013 world premiere of Gone with the Wind, a musical adapted by Niki Landau at the Royal Manitoba Theater Center in Winnipeg, Canada. Miche has appeared in and served as musical director/arranger in The People's Temple, Gee's Bend, The Bluest Eye, Mahalia: A Gospel Musical, Lady Day t Emerson's Bar & Grill, Hot Snow: The Story of Valaida Snow, and Ma Rainey's Black Bottom. She originated the character of Duchess DeLovely in the original cast of Hats: The Red Hat Society Musical.
As a singer, Miche has performed with Regina Carter, Alexis P. Suter, Milt Hinton, Lionel Hampton, and Frenchie Davis. She is featured on the James Carter release Gardenias for Lady Day (Sony/Columbia), and appeared with him at Carnegie Hall. Miche performed "New York State of Mind" in Movin' Out on Broadway, and was dubbed "Billy Joel's Piano Woman" by Fox 5 news. Miche's talented and versatile work can be heard on Diva Out of Bounds, Ms. Miche (available on iTunes and CD Baby).
Miche was the featured singer in Damien Foundation's 2007 Gospel's for Life tour in Belgium and France, and is a recurring featured artist in the Absolute Gospel Festival in Lyon, France. She toured Japan for several years in a series of jazz concerts and taught choral jazz and gospel workshops. She is currently Minister of Music and head of the Creative Arts Ministry at Unity Fellowship Church of New Brunswick, N.J.
Angelo Parra (Playwright) is an award-winning playwright who has been produced in: New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Washington, D.C.; at Cleveland Play House, Hartfod Stage, Florida Stage, the Cape (Cod) Playhouse, George Street Playhouse, Theatre Memphis, Passage Theatre, Florida Rep, Penguin Rep Company, and elsewhere.
Among his plays is Journey of the Heart (which dramatizes the seesaw struggle of a hospital committee to decide who gets a heart for transplant), which won the Jewel Box Theatre Award, Mixed Blood Versus America Award, and David James Ellis Memorial Award. His screenplay adaptation of Journey of the Heart was a finalist in the Sundance Institute Feature Film Program.
Angelo is the recipient of a Fund for U.S. Artists at International Festivals and Exhibitions grant (a partnership of the National Endowment for the Arts, the U.S. Information Agency, the Rockefeller Foundation, and the Pew Charitable Trusts), awarded to sponsor two of his plays at the 1993 Edinburgh International Theatre Festival.
Angelo's honors include two New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowships in Scriptwriting (one of them for The Devil's Music) and the 1998 Chicano/Latino Literary Award (University of California) for his play, Song of the Coquí. In 2000, he was named a Tennessee Williams Scholar at the prestigious Sewanee Writers Conference. He is a member of the Dramatists Guild and a member emeritus of the BMI/Lehman Engel Musical Theatre Workshop. He was awarded a National Endowment for the Humanities Landmarks of American History and Culture grant in 2008 and, in 2011, a New York State Council on the Arts/Arts Council of Rockland grant to sponsor a new play.
Angelo studied playwriting at: Roundabout Theatre Conservatoriy's Professional Playwright's Unit; New Dramatists Playwrights Forum; Playwrights Horizons' playwrights workshop; and the Playwrights Lab at T. Schreiber Studio, among others. He holds a B.A. in journalism from Fordham University and an MFA in playwriting, earned under the late Jack Gelber at Brooklyn College.
Joe Brancato (Director) was cited by The New York Times as "one of America's most insightful directors." His Off-Broadway credits include The Devil's Music: The Life & Blues of Bessie Smith (Drama Desk, Lucille Lortel, Off Broadway Alliance, and Audelco awards nominee); Tom Dudzick's Miracle on the South Division Street (St. Luke's Theatre); Fall to Earth and Feed (Audelco Award nominee) at 59E59; Tryst (Outer Critics nomination for Best Play); Cobb (Drama Best winner) produced by Kevin Spacey in NYC and LA; From Door to Door at the Westside Theatre; One Shot, One Koll at Primary Stages; Jeffrey Solomon's Santa Claus is Coming Out; Two and a Half Jews; My Italy Story; Ricky Ian Gordon's The matter of Minutes; Escape from Happiness (starring Marsha Mason), The Big Swing (starring Madeline Kahn, Sarah Jessica Parker, Matthew Broderick, Marisa Tomei) and Dr. Valentine's Waltz (starring John Turturro, Laura Linney, Gina Gershon, Jane Alexander) at Naked Angels; Hold the Wedding, produced by Joseph Papp.
Regional credits include: Cleveland Play House, George Street Playhouse, Seattle Rep, Williamstown Theatre Festival, Houston's Alley Theatre (Sylvia, Stones in His Pockets, Mere Mortals, Tryst), Hartford Stage, Westport Playhouse, Capital Rep, Boston's New Rep, Hartford Theatreworks, The Cape Playhouse, Passage Theatre, Florida Stage, and Florida Rep.
As founding artistic director, Joe has directed over 100 productions at Penguin Rep Theatre, including premieres by Arthur Laurents, Lanie Robertson, William Mastrosimone, James Sherman, Steven Dietz, Richard Vetere, Allan Knee, and Tom Dudzick. He commissioned and directed the play The Man Who Was Peter Pan, which was the basis for the Oscar-nominated film, Finding Neverland, starring Johnny Depp.
As playwright, he has written the comedy Drop Dead Perfect and the book for the musical Mae West at Club El Fey. Joe was named Best Director by L.A. Scene for Santa Claus is Coming Out, and has received two Rockland County Executive Awards for artistic excellence. His staging of tryst at Merrimack Repertory Theatre garnered New England's IRNE Award nominations for Best Director and Best Production.