The beautiful Hackney Empire played host to this wonderful production, which could loosely be described as a jukebox musical, but which was so much better than this description makes it sound. The show, which originally premiered on Broadway, centres around a run-down hotel in Chicago in 1939, the three residents, ‘Woman’, ‘Lady’ and ‘Girl’, and the ‘Man’ involved with them all.
A small, talented band were visible on-stage in amongst Susie McKenna’s simple, but beautifully lit, set. There was no story to speak of, but I honestly didn’t care, given the sheer number of superb songs performed. “Taking a Chance on Love”, “Nobody Knows You When You’re Down and Out”, “Kitchen Man” and the title song were just some of the tracks performed.
The cast were simply wonderful. Clive Rowe made a charismatic and entertaining ‘Man’, with Gemma Sutton a lovely and sweetly-singing ‘Girl’. Paulette Ivory was an excellent ‘Lady’, but the true star of the show was Sharon D Clarke as ‘Woman’, whose talent blows most of the current West End stars out of the water.
The show hadn’t really sold that well, which I thought was a shame, but the audience made up for this with hugely appreciative cheers and applause that was fully deserved. I hope this isn’t the last we see of Blues In the Night.