David H. Bell (Hot Mikado), who also penned the musical, will stage the work that incorporates songs from Smith's career. Gut Bucket Blues will run through Nov. 7 at the at the Balzer Theatre at Herren's.
Adrienne Reynolds will star in the title role with Christopher Morgan as Clarence Smith, Jahi Kearse as Jack Glee/Lonnie Fisher, Brandon O'Dell as Man #1, Amber Iman as Woman #1 and Latrice Pace as Woman #2.
According to True Colors, Gut Bucket Blues, asks "What made Bessie Smith Empress of the Blues? This world premiere musical explores her raucous life as the seed of her raucous music. From her start on the touring circuit to her success as a recording artist, Bessie refused to buckle under personal or social indignities. Find out Bessie was big as her blues, an extraordinary woman with a vivid rage to live."
Designing Gut Bucket Blues will be Rochelle Barker (scenic design), Joseph Futral (lighting design), Jeremy W. Floyd (costume design) and MC Park (prop design).
Musicians for the premiere will include Freddie Beyah (guitar), John Kaleefa Haamid (drums), Ramon Pooser (bass) and JMichael (piano). Bell has authored the musicals Cowboys and Lawyers and The Good War with composer Craig Carnelia. He has also directed Diffa Tribute to Edith Head, Heartstrings and Give My Regards to Broadway at Carnegie Hall.