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Our theatres are located at
1407 Euclid Avenue
Cleveland, OH 44115

Box Office (216) 241 6000

Subscriber Services (216) 400 7096

February 22 - 26, 2013 , Allen Theatre

The Devil's Music

written by Angelo Parra
conceived and directed by Joe Brancato
musical direction and performance by Miche Braden

Run time: Approx. 90 minutes, no intermission
Advisory: Recommended for ages 16 and up. Contains strong language and adult themes.

This soulful musical transports you to the 1930s and a private parlor in Memphis, where sexy and sassy Bessie Smith takes center stage. Don’t miss the amazing life and career, the loves and losses, and the great songs that made her “The Empress of the Blues.”

Photos & Videos Download Hi Res Photos

Miche Braden as Bessie Smith in Cleveland Play House production of The Devil's Music: The Life and Blues of Bessie Smith at the Allen Theatre, February 15 - March 10, 2013. Photo credit: John Quilty

Miche Braden as Bessie Smith in Cleveland Play House production of The Devil's Music: The Life and Blues of Bessie Smith at the Allen Theatre, February 15 - March 10, 2013. Photo credit: John Quilty

Miche Braden as Bessie Smith in Cleveland Play House production of The Devil's Music: The Life and Blues of Bessie Smith at the Allen Theatre, February 15 - March 10, 2013. Photo credit: John Quilty

Miche Braden as Bessie Smith in Cleveland Play House production of The Devil's Music: The Life and Blues of Bessie Smith, directed by Joe Brancato, at the Allen Theatre, February 15 - March 10, 2013. Photo credit: Roger Mastroianni.

Miche Braden as Bessie Smith in Cleveland Play House production of The Devil's Music: The Life and Blues of Bessie Smith, directed by Joe Brancato, at the Allen Theatre, February 15 - March 10, 2013. Photo credit: Roger Mastroianni.

Miche Braden as Bessie Smith in Cleveland Play House production of The Devil's Music: The Life and Blues of Bessie Smith, directed by Joe Brancato, at the Allen Theatre, February 15 - March 10, 2013. Photo credit: Roger Mastroianni.

Miche Braden as Bessie Smith in Cleveland Play House production of The Devil's Music: The Life and Blues of Bessie Smith, directed by Joe Brancato, at the Allen Theatre, February 15 - March 10, 2013. Photo credit: Roger Mastroianni.

Miche Braden as Bessie Smith in Cleveland Play House production of The Devil's Music: The Life and Blues of Bessie Smith, directed by Joe Brancato, at the Allen Theatre, February 15 - March 10, 2013. Photo credit: Roger Mastroianni.

Miche Braden as Bessie Smith in Cleveland Play House production of The Devil's Music: The Life and Blues of Bessie Smith at the Allen Theatre, February 15 - March 10, 2013. Photo credit: John Quilty

Miche Braden as Bessie Smith in Cleveland Play House production of The Devil's Music: The Life and Blues of Bessie Smith at the Allen Theatre, February 15 - March 10, 2013. Photo credit: John Quilty

Miche Braden as Bessie Smith in Cleveland Play House production of The Devil's Music: The Life and Blues of Bessie Smith at the Allen Theatre, February 15 - March 10, 2013. Photo credit: John Quilty

Cleveland Play House production of The Devil's Music: The Life and Blues of Bessie Smith starring Miche Braden at the Allen Theatre, February 15 - March 10, 2013. Photo credit: John Quilty

InsideCPH

Information, activities, tours and talks that take you behind the scenes of your favorite CPH shows.

Artists

Miche Braden

Miche Braden

(Bessie Smith/Music Director/Music Arrangements) last appeared in Cleveland in Love Langston for Great Lakes Theater. She just portrayed Mammy in the world premiere of Gone with the Wind at Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre in Winnipeg, Canada after successful runs of The Devil’s Music in New York City and Montreal’s more(Bessie Smith/Music Director/Music Arrangements) last appeared in Cleveland in Love Langston for Great Lakes Theater. She just portrayed Mammy in the world premiere of Gone with the Wind at Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre in Winnipeg, Canada after successful runs of The Devil’s Music in New York City and Montreal’s International Jazz Festival. Ms. Miche (pronounced “Mickey”) originally hails from Detroit where she was artist-in-residence with Detroit’s Council of the Arts and was founder and lead singer of the women’s jazz band Straight Ahead. Music director/arranger/acting credits include The People’s Temple, Gee’s Bend, The Bluest Eye,Mahalia: A Gospel Musical, Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill,Hot Snow: The Story of Valaida Snow, and Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. She originated the role Duchess DeLovely in Hats: The Red Hat Society Musical. She has sung with Regina Carter, Alexis P. Suter, Milt Hinton, Lionel Hampton, Frenchie Davis, and James Carter – at Carnegie Hall and in Carter’s releasesGardenias for Lady Day and At the Crossroads. She performed on Broadway in the finale of Movin’ Out, and Fox 5 News dubbed her “Billy Joel’s Piano Woman.” She was the featured singer in Damien Foundation’s 2007 Gospel for Life tour in Belgium and France and is a recurring featured artist in Absolute Gospel Festival, Lyon, France. She toured Japan in numerous jazz and gospel concerts. She is minister of music and head of the Creative Arts Ministry at Unity Fellowship Church, Newark, New Jersey. Honors include Drama Desk, Lucille Lortel, Off Broadway Alliance, Audelco, Carbonell and Connecticut Critics Award nominations. Her album Diva Out of Bounds, Ms. Miche is available from iTunes.

Joe Brancato

Joe Brancato

(Director) was cited by The New York Times as “one of America’s most insightful directors.” Off-Broadway includes The Devil’s Music: The Life & Blues of Bessie Smith(Drama Desk, Lucille Lortel, Off Broadway Alliance, and Audelco Award nominee); Tom Dudzick’s Miracle on South Division Street, St. Luke’s Theatre; Fall to Earth more(Director) was cited by The New York Times as “one of America’s most insightful directors.” Off-Broadway includes The Devil’s Music: The Life & Blues of Bessie Smith(Drama Desk, Lucille Lortel, Off Broadway Alliance, and Audelco Award nominee); Tom Dudzick’s Miracle on South Division Street, St. Luke’s Theatre; Fall to Earth and Freed(Audelco Award nominee) at 59E59; Tryst (Outer Critics nomination, Best Play); Cobb (Drama Desk winner) produced by Kevin Spacey in New York City and Los Angeles; From Door To Door, Westside Theatre; One Shot, One Kill, 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; and Hold the Wedding, produced by Joseph Papp. Regional credits include George Street Playhouse, Seattle Repertory Theatre, Williamstown Theatre Festival, Alley Theatre, Hartford Stage, Westport Country Playhouse, Capital Rep, New Rep, Hartford TheaterWorks, Cape Playhouse, Passage Theatre, and Florida Stage. He is founding artistic director of Penguin Rep and has directed numerous productions there, including many premieres. He commissioned and directed The Man Who Was Peter Pan, the basis for Oscar-nominated film Finding Neverland. As playwright he wrote Drop Dead Perfect and the book for the musical Mae West at the Club El Fey. Honors include LAScene Best Director; two Rockland County Executive Awards, Artistic Excellence; and Best Director and Best Production IRNE nominations, Tryst at Merrimack Rep.

George Caldwell

George Caldwell

(Piano) returns to Cleveland Play House after appearing as musical director of Ella in 2007. He has conducted Black and Blue and Play On! on Broadway; played piano and keyboards for Broadway productions 'Bring In 'Da Noise and The Full Monty; and conducted tours of Body and Soul and Black more(Piano) returns to Cleveland Play House after appearing as musical director of Ella in 2007. He has conducted Black and Blue and Play On! on Broadway; played piano and keyboards for Broadway productions 'Bring In 'Da Noise and The Full Monty; and conducted tours of Body and Soul and Black and Blue in Europe; as well as serving as musical director for United States regional co-productions of original musicals Ella, Thunder Knocking on The Door, Cookin' At The Cookery, and a run of Golden Boy at Long Wharf Theatre. He toured the world as pianist in The Count Basie Orchestra for seven years (garnering a Grammy Award in 1996) and in The Duke Ellington Orchestra for three years. He has performed with many and diverse artists: such as George Benson, Elvis Costello, Bobby McFerrin et al.

Jim Hankins

Jim Hankins

() grew up in a Detroit neighborhood that produced many internationally known jazz and R&B musicians, including jazz icon Barry Harris, saxophonist Charles Mcpherson, and Richard Street and Melvin Franklin of The Temptations. Self-taught as a bassist, Hankins was mentored by jazz greats Paul Chambers, Doug Watkins, Will Davis, and more() grew up in a Detroit neighborhood that produced many internationally known jazz and R&B musicians, including jazz icon Barry Harris, saxophonist Charles Mcpherson, and Richard Street and Melvin Franklin of The Temptations. Self-taught as a bassist, Hankins was mentored by jazz greats Paul Chambers, Doug Watkins, Will Davis, and Harold McKinney, which enabled him to share the stage with legendary artists such as Lou Rawls, Irene Reid, Arthur Prysock, Freda Payne, Donald Byrd, Wes Montgomery, Sonny Stitt, and Betty Carter. At age 16, Hankins (playing trombone) along with saxophonist Charles McPherson and trumpeter Lonnie Hillyer, was invited to sit in with Miles Davis’ sextet. This session was the highlight of Hankins’ musical life. In the late 60's he attended business school and accepted a job with a major corporation. He returned to full-time performing upon retirement and has since traveled the world as a musician. He takes pride in having been with The Devil’s Music from the beginning.

Keith Loftis

Keith Loftis

(Saxophone) has been described as one of the most dynamic jazz saxophonists of today. A graduate of Booker T. Washington High School of the Visual and Performing Arts, Loftis received his Bachelor of Arts, Music from The New School for Social Research and his masters in Composition/Film Scoring from New more(Saxophone) has been described as one of the most dynamic jazz saxophonists of today. A graduate of Booker T. Washington High School of the Visual and Performing Arts, Loftis received his Bachelor of Arts, Music from The New School for Social Research and his masters in Composition/Film Scoring from New York University. He has since performed with jazz legends, including Benny Carter, Cedar Walton, Nancy Wilson, Frank Foster, Alvin Batiste and Ray Charles. Loftis appears regularly throughout Europe, Asia and parts of the Middle East. He currently performs with Michael Carvin, the Roy Hargrove Big Band, and Abdullah Ibrahim. Other credits include VH1’s “Fashion Rocks” with Mary J. Blige and Usher and “Storyteller” again with Mary J. Blige. Loftis performs often at New York’s renowned Carlyle hotel. He continues film scoring and has played music in films Three Can Play That Game and Black Out. His CD Simply Loftis was released in 2011

Angelo Parra

Angelo Parra

(Playwright) is an award-winner, with plays produced in New York; Los Angeles; Chicago; Washington, D.C.; at Hartford Stage; Florida Stage; Cape (Cod) Playhouse; George Street Playhouse; Theatre Memphis; Passage Theatre; Florida Repertory Theatre; Penguin Rep; and elsewhere. Last summer The Devil’s Music was invited to give six performances at The more(Playwright) is an award-winner, with plays produced in New York; Los Angeles; Chicago; Washington, D.C.; at Hartford Stage; Florida Stage; Cape (Cod) Playhouse; George Street Playhouse; Theatre Memphis; Passage Theatre; Florida Repertory Theatre; Penguin Rep; and elsewhere. Last summer The Devil’s Music was invited to give six performances at The Montreal International Jazz Festival, the only play ever invited to this renowned music festival. Among his plays isJourney of the Heart – dramatizing the seesaw struggle of a hospital committee to decide who gets a heart for transplant – which won the Jewel Box Theatre, Mixed Blood Versus America, and David James Ellis Memorial awards. Parra received a Fund for U.S. Artists at International Festivals and Exhibitions grant (National Endowment for the Arts, U.S. Information Agency, Rockefeller Foundation, and Pew Charitable Trusts) to sponsor two of his plays at the 1993 Edinburgh International Theatre Festival. Honors include two New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA) Scriptwriting Fellowships and the 1998 Chicano/Latino Literary Award 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 Dramatists Guild member and alumnus of the BMI/Lehman Engel Musical Theatre Workshop. In 2008, Parra was awarded a National Endowment for the Humanities Landmarks of American History and Culture grant. He is the founder/director of the Hudson Valley Professional Playwrights Lab, playwriting instructor at SUNY Rockland Community College, president of the Board of Penguin Rep Theatre, and author of Playwriting for Dummies.

Faye Carter

(Assistant Stage Manager) most recently worked as assistant stage manager for Cleveland Play House on A Carol for Cleveland. She also worked at CPH on FusionFest 2010, Heaven’s My Destination, and Crime and Punishment. Additional credits include stage managing for Cleveland Public Theatre: Springboard 2012, Danceworks 2012, Darwinii: The Comeuppance more(Assistant Stage Manager) most recently worked as assistant stage manager for Cleveland Play House on A Carol for Cleveland. She also worked at CPH on FusionFest 2010, Heaven’s My Destination, and Crime and Punishment. Additional credits include stage managing for Cleveland Public Theatre: Springboard 2012, Danceworks 2012, Darwinii: The Comeuppance of Man with Brett Keyser, Big [Box] 2012, The Santaland Diaries and The Loush Sisters, Leap/Conceive 2011, and Springboard 2011 among many others. Carter has free-lanced at theatres in the northeast Ohio area for the past three years and is currently the events production manager at Cain Park in Cleveland Heights, Ohio.

Jennifer Matheson Collins

(Stage Manager) stage managed Cleveland Play House productions of The Good Peaches, Luna Gale, Ken Ludwig’s A Comedy of Tenors, Fairfield, Maurice Hines is Tappin’ Thru Life, Informed Consent, Breath and Imagination, A Christmas Story, Woody Sez, Rich Girl, The Devil’s Music: The Life and Blues of Bessie Smith, A more(Stage Manager) stage managed Cleveland Play House productions of The Good Peaches, Luna Gale, Ken Ludwig’s A Comedy of Tenors, Fairfield, Maurice Hines is Tappin’ Thru Life, Informed Consent, Breath and Imagination, A Christmas Story, Woody Sez, Rich Girl, The Devil’s Music: The Life and Blues of Bessie Smith, A Carol for Cleveland, A Night With Janis Joplin (at both CPH and Arena Stage in Washington, D.C.), The Trip to Bountiful and This Wonderful Life. Other recent credits include: Angels in America (Millennium Approaches and Perestroika), A Christmas Carol, The Santaland Diaries, and The Who and the What (Kansas City Repertory Theatre). Previously, she was a full-time faculty member at Northwestern University, overseeing the stage management program. From 2000 to 2007, she was a resident stage manager at Chicago Shakespeare Theater on Navy Pier, where selected credits include Passion, Marionette Macbeth, Hamlet, Seussical the Musical, A Flea in Her Ear, Kabuki Lady Macbeth, A Little Night Music, Sunday in the Park with George and Pacific Overtures. Other Chicago credits include Death of a Salesman, Waiting for Godot, Floyd Collins, Jitney, The Odyssey and A Christmas Carol (Goodman Theatre). She earned a Bachelor of Science, Theatre and a Bachelor of Arts, Anthropology from Kansas State University and is a proud member of Actors’ Equity Association.

Patricia E. Doherty

(Costume Designer) designed several Cleveland Play House productions including Boy Meets Girl, featuring Jane Krakowski of 30 Rock and Alfie (2004) fame, and Only Kidding! with Daniel J. Travanti. Recent New York designs include The Devil’s Music, St Luke’s Theatre; Fall To Earth,Freed, Jericho, Poetic License, The Housewives of Mannheim, more(Costume Designer) designed several Cleveland Play House productions including Boy Meets Girl, featuring Jane Krakowski of 30 Rock and Alfie (2004) fame, and Only Kidding! with Daniel J. Travanti. Recent New York designs include The Devil’s Music, St Luke’s Theatre; Fall To Earth,Freed, Jericho, Poetic License, The Housewives of Mannheim, 59E59 Theaters;The Goldman Project, Abingdon Theatre Company; and Southern Comfort: A New Musical with Annette O’Toole and Jeff McCarthy at CAP21, recipient of the 2012 GLAAD Award, Outstanding Off-Off-Broadway Production. Regional credits include Engeman Theatre, Florida Repertory Theatre, Penguin Rep, Riverside Theatre, Ensemble Theatre Company of Santa Barbara, and the Alley Theatre where she was resident designer. Currently, Doherty is designer-in-residence at New Jersey Repertory Company (American Theatre Wing 2012 Theatre Company Grant), where she is able to fulfill her passion for new plays, designing over 75 premieres including musicals The Little Hours and Katherine Houghton’s Bookends, Ken Jenkins directing.

Michael Schweikardt

(Scenic Designer) Recent Cleveland Play House credits include Devil’s Music, Lost in Yonkers and Ella. Mr. Schweikardt has created sets for the world premieres of Nobody Loves You, Duncan Sheik’s Whisper House at The Old Globe. He has also designed several musicals by Joe Iconis, including Bloodsong of Love at more(Scenic Designer) Recent Cleveland Play House credits include Devil’s Music, Lost in Yonkers and Ella. Mr. Schweikardt has created sets for the world premieres of Nobody Loves You, Duncan Sheik’s Whisper House at The Old Globe. He has also designed several musicals by Joe Iconis, including Bloodsong of Love at Ars Nova, ReWrite at Urban Stages, The Black Suits at The Public Theater and Things To Ruin at The Zipper Factory and Second Stage Theatre. Other recent credits include the critically acclaimed productions of Carousel, Showboat, Annie Get Your Gun, 1776, Big River and Camelot for Goodspeed Musicals; Ella, appearing in cities all across the country; Barnum for Asolo Repertory Theatre’s 50th anniversary season; Oklahoma!starring Kelli O’Hara and Will Chase for the Oklahoma State Centennial; the American premieres of Frank McGuinness’ Gates of Gold and The Bird Sanctuary, as well as national and international tours of James Taylor’s One Man Band. Mr. Schweikardt’s online portfolio can be seen at www.msportfolio.com.

James C. Swonger

(Sound Designer) has designed sound for over 50 Cleveland Play House productions including The Good Peaches (world premiere); Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike; Breath and Imagination; Venus in Fur; Good People; The Devil’s Music: The Life and Blues of Bessie Smith; Bell, Book and Candle; The Game’s Afoot more(Sound Designer) has designed sound for over 50 Cleveland Play House productions including The Good Peaches (world premiere); Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike; Breath and Imagination; Venus in Fur; Good People; The Devil’s Music: The Life and Blues of Bessie Smith; Bell, Book and Candle; The Game’s Afoot (world premiere); Bill W. and Dr. Bob; Heaven’s My Destination (world premiere); Crime and Punishment; Noises Off!; Gee’s Bend; The Chosen; and I Am My Own Wife. CWRU/CPH MFA Acting Program credits include The Philadelphia Story, The Three Sisters, Twelfth Night, and An Orchard. Additional credits include Cleveland’s Lyric Opera Company, Utah Festival Opera & Musical Theatre, Pioneer Theatre Company, Centerstage Theatre, George Street Playhouse, Yale Repertory Theatre, Cleveland State University Summer Stages, and premiere productions of why i had to dance, The Tragic Demise of the Whaleship Essex and Swinging on a Star: A Tribute to the Music of Johnny Burke.

Todd Wren

(Lighting Designer) debuts at Cleveland Play House with The Devil's Music, The Life and Blues of Bessie Smith, conceived and directed by Joe Brancato. World premiere designs include Stand by Your Man with Jim Lauderdale and directed by Gabriel Barre; Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, conceived and choreographed by Chase Brock; more(Lighting Designer) debuts at Cleveland Play House with The Devil's Music, The Life and Blues of Bessie Smith, conceived and directed by Joe Brancato. World premiere designs include Stand by Your Man with Jim Lauderdale and directed by Gabriel Barre; Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, conceived and choreographed by Chase Brock; Turned Funny, directed by Fred Chappell; and New York City premieres of The Fall to Earth, directed by Joe Brancato and A Dash of Rosemary, conceived and directed by Douglas Kampsen. Wren’s regional credits include Goodspeed Musicals, Seaside Musical Theatre, Barter Theatre, Palm Beach DramaWorks, Pittsburgh Playhouse, Casa Manana, Coconut Grove Playhouse, Gainesville Theatre Alliance, North Carolina Shakespeare Festival, Charlotte Repertory Theatre, and Flat Rock Playhouse. His lighting design work has earned three South Florida Carbonell Award nominations.

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