A Whole Lot of Somethin’ Out of Nothin’
Sweet sounds fill the history of the blues
Let the good times roll.
It’s more than just a song in It Ain’t Nothin But the Blues — it’s a mantra the show’s eight-member ensemble embraces from start to finish, providing a fitting blues primer.
It Ain’t Nothin’ is billed as a musical journey from the roots of blues in Africa to the more modern sounds of urban Chicago in the early 20th century. The voices and talents range from powerful to plain, but when it’s good, it’s really good. The unfamiliar may not know what the story’s about in “Walking After Midnight,” but there’s no mistaking what’s going on in “Fever.”
The sometimes sultry, other times sassy ladies steal most of the show, particularly with “I’m Going to Do What the Spirit Says” and “While You Were Stepping Out, Somebody Else Was Stepping In.” But the gentlemen have their moments too, with “I’ve Been Living With the Blues” and the hilarious, double entendre “Candyman” that would make Christina Aguilera blush. But the show soars when the entire cast joins in the fun, sounding like a gospel choir at a backyard barbecue with “Let the Good Times Roll” and “Member’s Only.” The ensemble included Christopher Gay, Karen Thrower, Trudy Grant, Wakeelah Shabazz, Rita Pasley, Lynn Marie B. Boone, Carole Moore, John Smalls, and Otis Nelson.
Musical director Howard Brown leads a terrific band that’s nice enough to stay in the background and let the voices shine. The only musical hiccup was a misplaced triangle that provides cute accompaniment at first, but grows tiresome really fast.
It’s important to note that Ain’t Nothin’ isn’t anything but a musical journey. There’s no story thread woven through the 90-minute show other than a quick setup for a song or a recognition from cast members that we’re moving on to a different type of blues. But that’s okay, because the music is what the crowd came for. —Greg Hambrick
It Ain’t Nothin’ But the Blues • Music Theatre • $20, $15 seniors/students • May 31, June 8 at 6 p.m.; June 2 at 8 p.m. • Footlight Players Theatre • 554-6060