The Tony Award-nominated musical revue, It Ain't Nothin' But the Blues, is a hit in Los Angeles even before its official opening Nov. 21.
The Geffen Playhouse staging began previews Nov. 13 and announced an extension to Jan. 2, 2000.
New York cast members Eloise Laws, Ron Taylor and Dan Wheetman are part of the West Coast company of the revue of the roots and branches of blues, from African plantation chants to American pop music. Tony nominated Taylor, a longtime L.A. resident who helped devise the revue, suffered a mild stroke in June, but has recovered after a rest.
Performance were originally announced only to Dec. 19.
Written by Charles Bevel, Lita Gaithers, Randal Myler, Taylor and Wheetman, It Ain't Nothin' But the Blues, in L.A., features Jewel Tompkins (Ragtime in L.A.), Billy Valentine, Janiva Magness, Kingsley Leggs (Ragtime in L.A.) and Mark Leroy Jackson (Rent). Randal Myler directs again. Donald McKayle (Raisin) choreographs.
No other extension will be possible at the Geffen. The season's third production, the Los Angeles premiere of Wit starring Kathleen Chalfant, begins previews Jan. 18, 2000.
A special New Year's Eve show of Blues has been added at 8 PM on Dec. 31.
The Broadway staging at the Vivian Beaumont Theatre in spring 1999 earned Tony Award nominations for Best Musical, Best Book and Best Featured Actress (Gretha Boston) and Featured Actor (Ron Taylor).
The show was born and nurtured in regional theatres, including the Denver Center Theatre Company (where it began in 1994) before playing San Diego Repertory Theatre and Crossroads Theatre Company. The current New York staging played Off-Broadway's New Victory Theatre in 1998-99 before moving to the Beaumont at Lincoln Center. It moved to the Ambassador Theatre in early September.
A cast album, recorded live Aug. 26-27, is expected to be released before the end of the year.
Songs in Blues include "Fever," "I'm Your Hoochie Coochie Man," "St. Louis Blues," "I Put a Spell on You," "The Thrill is Gone," "Crazy," "Crawlin' King Snake," "Goodnight Irene" and "Strange Fruit."
Co-author and director Randal Myler has directed at the Mark Taper Forum, Arena Stage, Actors Theatre of Louisville, Cleveland Playhouse, Alabama Shakespeare Festival and the Old Globe Theatre, among others. A 15-year veteran of the Denver Center Theatre Company, he most recently wrote and directed Love Janis: The Songs, The Letter, The Soul of Janis Joplin.
Designers for It Ain't Nothin' But the Blues are Robin Sanford Roberts (sets), Alex Jaeger (costumes), Don Darnutzer (lights) and Jon Gottleib (sound).
The Geffen Playhouse is located at 10886 Le Conte Avenue in Westwood. Tickets are $20-$42. Call the Geffen Playhouse at (310) 208-5454.