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Thu, 01.26.1989

‘Black and Blue’ debuts on Broadway

*On this date in 1989, Black and Blue made its Broadway stage debut.  This was is a musical revue celebrating the Black culture of dance and music in Paris between World War I and World War II.  

Based on an idea by Mel Howard and conceived by Hector Orezzoli and Claudio Segovia, it consists of songs by artists such as W. C. HandyLouis ArmstrongDuke EllingtonFats WallerEubie Blake, and Big Maybelle and skits peppered with bits of bawdy humor.  The show was first presented at the Chatelet Theatre in Paris in 1985 which included Sandra Reaves-Phillips. The Broadway production opened at the Minskoff Theatreand closed on January 20, 1991 after 829 performances and 32 previews.  It was directed by Orezzoli and Segovia and choreographed by Henry LeTangCholly AtkinsFrankie Manning, and Fayard Nicholas.  

The cast of forty-one singers, dancers, and musicians included Ruth Brown, Linda Hopkins, Carrie Smith, Savion Glover, Claude Williams, Roland Hanna, Grady Tate, Jimmy Slyde, Bill Easley, Jimmy "Preacher" Robbins, Lon Chaney (the jazz tap dancer, not the actor) and Bunny Briggs. Dianne Walker was the show's curator and sustainer of the choreography and stage direction, as well as a featured dancer. In 1990, LaVern Baker made her Broadway debut replacing Ruth Brown for the last eight months of the run. The score included "St. Louis Blues," "I Can't Give You Anything But Love," "In a Sentimental Mood," "Am I Blue," "Stompin' at the Savoy," and the title tune. The original cast recording won a Grammy Award.  

Following the Broadway engagement, Howard took Black and Blue on two European tours, performing at such venues as The Chatelet Theater in Paris, The Thalia in Hamburg, Theater des Westens in Berlin, The Deutsches Theater in Munich, and The Carre Theater in Amsterdam.  A television production aired on PBS' Great Performances in 1993.  

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Dere’s an ol’ man called de Mississippi Dat’s de ol’ man dat I’d like to be! What does he care if de world’s got troubles? What does he care if de land... OL’ MAN RIVER by Paul Robeson.
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