It Ain't Nothin' But The Blues

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This is the show's first major NY production since its Broadway debut in 1999.

[Theater]

The most rousing version of "Goodnight Irene" to be sung during Hurricane Irene will be in the final performances of "Ain't Nothin' But The Blues," presented through Sunday, August 29 at Aaron Davis Hall by New Haarlem Arts Theatre (www.newhaarlemartstheatre.org).

The much-acclaimed musical revue, now playing its one-week extension, also includes classics like "Crossroads Blues," "Fever" and "Let the Good Times Roll." There's a pair or comps for anybody named Irene who comes to the show for any remaining performance.  If you have any doubt about whether the show is on, you can check the theater's website or Smarttix, (212) 868-4444 or www.smarttix.com.

Here are some media reactions so far.

The New York Post: From the fiery gospel of "Catch on Fire" to the steamy sexuality of "Come On in My Kitchen," it "Let[s] the Good Times Roll." It'll be a long time, if ever, before "The Thrill Is Gone."

Marvel Allen proves the vocal powerhouse of the group, with full-throttle renditions of "St. Louis Blues" and "Strange Fruit." Dameka Hayes accompanies many of the songs with her sinuous, expressive dancing. And Shawn Brown is a natural comic, singing "Candy Man" with an angelic demeanor that makes its lascivious come-ons all the more amusing.

But for sheer sexual bravado, it was hard to beat the big-boned Gerald Latham, whose enthusiastic bumping and grinding during "I'm Your Hootchie Cootchie Man" literally knocked the glasses off the face of a woman in the front row.

The Daily News: The outstanding performers include Dameka Hayes, who sparkles with confidence. Her "My Man Rocks Me" and sultry "Fever" were off the charts -be it Fahrenheit or Centrigrade. She's got moves, too, sensually showcased in Tracy Jacks' choreography.

Marvel Allen proves herself a powerhouse vocalist, equally at home with a sexy "I Put a Spell on You" and a haunting "Strange Fruit."

Crowd-pleasers include Gerald Latham's frisky "I'm Your Hootchie Cootchie Man," Shawn Brown's sly "Candy Man" and [Nathaly] Lopez's flirty "Come on in My Kitchen." That number found her turning an unsuspecting man in the audience into her love toy.

The New York Times: Here are the blues in every permutation: country, city and churchy blues; happy blues and sad blues; slow burns and fast-talking come-ons...Lots of standout moments, thanks to a strong, nicely varied cast of eight performers. (A live band provides accompaniment.) Some highlights: Dameka Hayes's "Fever," Marvel Allen's "St. Louis Blues" and Shawn Brown's sweet and shyly lowdown "Candy Man." The show's high point [is] Nathaly Lopez's vampy-funny "Come On in My Kitchen." She understands how to find the drama in the blues, and milks the song for all she can get. (Plenty.)

The play is running at Aaron Davis Hall -- Theatre B-- West 135th Street and Convent Avenue, Hamilton Heights.
Thursdays through Saturdays at 7:00 PM, matinees Saturdays and Sundays at 2:00 PM.

Tickets $25 general admission, $15 students and seniors, $10 with CUNY ID. Box office: SMARTTIX, (212) 868-4444, www.smarttix.com.

Free on-site parking is available in South Campus Parking Lot (enter at 133rd Street and Convent Ave.).
Subways: #1 to 137th Street or A, B, C, D to 135th Street.

"It Ain’t Nothin’ but the Blues," directed by Alfred Preisser, is the second show of the inaugural season of New Haarlem Arts Theatre, the resident theater of City College of New York (CCNY).

This is the show's first major NY production since its Broadway debut in 1999. 

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