Penguin Rep Theatre (Joe Brancato, Artistic Director, and Andrew M. Horn, Executive Director) and Edmund Gaynes, in association with Don and LizAnne Mitchell, will present The Devil's Music: The Life and Blues of Bessie Smith, a musical by Angelo Parra, conceived and directed by Joe Brancato. Miche Braden stars as Bessie Smith, along with Aaron Graves, Jim Hankins, Keith Loftis, and Anthony E. Nelson, Jr. Performances begin June 7th Off-Broadway at the St. Luke's Theater (308 West 46th Street). Opening Night is set for Wednesday June 22nd.
The Devil's Music: The Life and Blues of Bessie Smith will feature set design by Michael Schweikardt, lighting design by Jeff Croiter, costume design by Patricia E. Doherty and sound design by Jack Kennedy. Musical direction and arrangements are by Miche Braden.
Sexy and racy, blues singer Bessie Smith was the definition of a Red Hot Mamma and the most successful entertainer of her time. On the eve of her tragic death in 1937, Bessie takes center stage in The Devil's Music: The Life and Blues of Bessie Smith and tells the story of her amazing life and career, her loves and losses. Put your troubles aside and soak up the blues as Bessie Smith comes to life and sings the songs that made her so unforgettable, including "St. Louis Blues," "Need a Little Sugar in My Bowl," and "Nobody Knows You When You're Down and Out."
Miche Braden 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 Artist 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. As an actor, 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 at Emerson's Bar & Grill, Hot Snow: The Story of Valaida Snow, and Ma Rainey's Black Bottom. She has been nominated for the coveted Carbonell Award in Florida and the Connecticut Critics Award. 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 Gardenia's 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 teaching 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.