Ron Taylor, co-creator and Tony nominated star of the Broadway musical It Ain't Nothin' But the Blues, suffered a mild stroke on June 11. A production spokesman told PBOL (June 15) that Taylor is currently in the hospital "but he will be released later this week. "
Taylor's understudy, C.E. Smith has gone on in his absence, with Taylor's absence from the show expected to last four-six weeks, barring difficulties. Taylor's songs in the show include "Blues Man," "Let The Good Times Roll," "The Thrill Is Gone" and the physically taxing show-stopper, "I'm Your Hoochie Coochie Man."
[Coincidentally, Blues is the second Broadway show this past spring to be affected by a cast-member's stroke. Ring Round The Moon was to star Irene Worth as the show's wheelchair-bound matriarch, but her stroke led to the full-time casting of Marian Seldes, who was only supposed to play the matinees.)
The past two weeks have been difficult ones for the Broadway revue, with their number being cut from the nationally broadcast Tony Award Ceremony on June 6. The show has been the talk of the industry in its search for some sort of compensation from the Tony producers and CBS. Last week, in a highly publicized move, Blues producers hired renowned entertainment lawyer, Bert Fields.
Eric Krebs, lead producer of Blues, told Playbill On-Line (June 11) that while the Tony Award producers have been more than willing to negotiate, "Nothing been finalized. We're seeking reimbursement for the out of pocket expenses of rehearsing and transporting the show to the [Tony] ceremony." "We're in discussions for what is appropriate compensation," Krebs continued, "Right now, we're still struggling, we were hoping for a big kick out of a number in the Tonys. This is my first Broadway production, and I believed what everyone was telling me about business after the Tonys."
"[Rosie] O'Donnell has covered the show, told people what has happened and urged people to come see it. We had the appearance on Letterman on Wednesday night. Everyone is concerned that the show shouldn't suffer because of the omission," Krebs stated. "But, we're going to top $250 [thousand dollars] this week for the first time. It's gone up every week except Memorial Day weekend, where we dropped a little bit. What we need right now is to build enough [word of mouth] so that we can move into a Broadway house in the fall...right now that is the goal."
* In a statement released June 7, Krebs said, "I and my fellow producers recognize that It Ain't Nothing But the Blues has been substantially damaged as a result of last evenings Tony Awards telecast snub. Scheduled as the ceremony's rousing '11:00 O'Clock Number,' The Blues company was forced to surrender their allotted four minute performance segment. The company was scheduled to perform 'Members Only' by Larry Addison and 'Let the Good Time Roll' by F. Moore and S. Thread."
Krebs also remarked, "We have retained attorney Bertram Fields to advise us on a course of action. The Tony management committee has been responsive to exploring various options for rectifying the damage to our show...Every week the show's grosses have increased."
Co-creator and Tony nominee of Blues Ron Taylor remarked, "Unfortunately and ironically, the omission of a Blues performance at the Tony Awards is exactly what our show is about. It's still going on - it's exactly what happened last night. We're going to go out onstage tomorrow night and sing the Blues and it will be a little more bluesy this week. But we will recover. We will recover and go on, and that's what our show is about."
The Tonys released the following statement in response: "Tony Award Productions regrets that the musical number from It Ain't Nothin' But the Blues did not appear on the 1999 telecast. As it became clear that the show was running long, many cuts were made throughout the telecast including another important whole segment, the recap of the Tony winners announced earlier on PBS. All of the cuts were made in order to complete the program on time."
It Ain't Nothin' But The Blues is currently playing at the Vivian Beaumont Theatre.