Azure Allure
Blues in the Night
Review by Ross Anthony

The Beverly O'Neill Theatre in Long Beach is a great place to catch a show: 400-500 seats, yet quite intimate and airy. It seems to me there's not a bad seat in the house. What a pleasure it was to be back in person enjoying live theatre!

Blues in the Night is a one-set show. Its melancholy blue-lit set is a cozy place to spend the evening. The band musicians: pianist/conductor, drummer, bassist, trumpeter, and sax player can be seen (as if across a smokey bar) behind the set's mesh backdrop. It's a sweet effect, but I must say, I'd have rather the pianist be placed in front, just to the side of the main platform. During one piece (the tap dance), the horn players emerge from behind the mesh (but still confined to the doorway) for their solos. This worked extremely well. In fact, I'd recommend more such integrating/highlighting of the musicians.

The lighting, costuming and set design (as mentioned) all conspire to give us the feel of a 40's bluesy hotel/lounge somewhere in Chicago, sans gimmicks, well done.

These women can sing! Their three part harmonies ring, stir your heart, echo of the Andrews Sisters. I would have loved more of those harmonies. The solo gentleman (Parris D. Mann) had a sweet voice too, but as it was a bit under powered (not sure by him or the sound system), I can't speak to it. That said, his character's overall style and tone balanced the evening. Further, his tap dance (after intermission) was the first time the play broke from the stage and felt like it included the audience.

Speaking of sound, unfortunately, I found the amplification unsatisfactorily equalized. I am not an expert, but the low end sounds were soft, and the higher end tones felt absent. The sound that made it to my ears (4th row center) seemed far too compressed in the mid range. As a result, I (and I suspect others) had a hard time making out the lyrics (or even the occasional dialogue). The words were simply not bright and clear. Sadly, this technical issue dampened the overall experience. My hope is that this will be corrected in subsequent performances.

As for the songs, the music and melodies are fun, toe-tapping, inviting and nostalgic, but some of these lyrics won't play as well in modern times. Expect a collection of period blues tunes, not a story with character development and the usual dramatic elements.

All performers were solid, and the tap dance was a particular highlight, plus Vivian Reed knocked it out at the close of one of the songs after intermission. Such moments and the 3-part harmonies, stirred me inside.


  • 2021 Copyright © Blues in the Night, Review based on the October 31st, 2021 performance at the The Beverly O'Neill Theatre in Long Beach, CA.
  • Directed by Wren T. Brown. Starring Jenna Gillespie Byrd, Karole Freeman, Parris D. Mann, Vivian Reed. Presented by International City Theatre and Ebony Repertory Theatre.


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Copyright © 1998-2020 Ross Anthony, Author - Speaker - Solo World Circumnavigator In addition to reviewing films and interviewing celebs at HollywoodReportCard.com, traveling the world, composing great music, motivational speaking, Mr. Anthony also runs his own publishing company in the Los Angeles area. While traversing the circumference of the planet writing books and shooting documentaries, Mr. Anthony has taught, presented for, worked &/or played with locals in over 30 countries & 100 cities (Nairobi to Nagasaki). He's bungee-jumped from a bridge near Victoria Falls, wrestled with lions in Zimbabwe, crashed a Vespa off a high mountain road in Taiwan, and ridden a dirt bike across the States (Washington State to Washington DC). To get signed books ("Rodney Appleseed" to "Jinshirou") or schedule Ross to speak check out: www.RossAnthony.com or call 1-800-767-7186. Go into the world and inspire the people you meet with your love, kindness, and whatever it is you're really good at. Check out books by Ross Anthony. Rand() functions, Pho chicken soup, rollerblading, and frozen yogurt (w/ blueberries) also rock! (Btw, rand is short for random. It can also stand for "Really Awkward Nutty Dinosaurs" -- which is quite rand, isn't it?) Being alive is the miracle. Special thanks to Ken Kocanda, HAL, Jodie Keszek, Don Haderlein, Mom and Pops, my family, R. Foss, and many others by Ross Anthony. Galati-FE also deserves a shout out. And thanks to all of you for your interest and optimism. Enjoy great films, read stirring novels, grow.


Last Modified: Monday, 01-Nov-2021 18:56:13 PDT