THE DEVIL’S MUSIC (People’s Light): 60-second review

THE DEVIL'S MUSIC.

Miche Braden as Bessie Smith in THE DEVIL’S MUSIC. Photo by Mark Garvin.

This hybrid of monologue and musical chronicles the life of Bessie Smith. Although Smith experienced troubled times in her life, THE DEVIL’S MUSIC is mostly upbeat—chock full of raunchy innuendo and humorously sexual dance moves. This makes for a perfectly lovely evening of theater, but neither the vocals or story line quite hit the notes to stir hearts. Miche Braden is charming as Bessie, but her performance misses the soul shattering passion blues is famous for.

Instead of life moments acted out with scenes and other characters, THE DEVIL’S MUSIC sees Bessie recount bits and pieces with musical accompaniment and occasional chime-in from the on-stage band. It’s a one-two-punch performance—solid but lacking panache and ingenuity. But not every play means to wrestle through intrigues to the venerable catharsis of high drama. The levity of bawdy humor and unencumbered enjoyment is in itself a worthy aim—and from this perspective THE DEVIL’S MUSIC succeeds. October 16-November 24, 2013, peopleslight.org.

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About the author

Nicole Forrester

Nicole Forrester grew up memorizing Shakespeare’s sonnets for allowance money, and for years has rigorously attended FringeArts and Philadelphia theater offerings in general. Among activities including aerial acrobatics, event planning, and sketch comedy, she still considers theater, and now review, her favorite method of adventure.