Birdland Blue

Critics

LemonMeter

86 %

Reviews: 7

Audience

LemonMeter

Reviews: 0

At Broadway and 52nd Street in New York City, the nightclub Birdland was the legendary center of the jazz world, where the glitterati of Broadway, Hollywood and the sports world regularly filled its 500 seats. In August, 1959, the biggest star in jazz was Miles Davis, who earlier that year recorded Kind of Blue, regarded then and now as the most innovative and best jazz album of all time. The Miles Davis Sextet, as constituted that summer, was regarded as the best jazz combo ever.
Birdland Blue is a behind-the-scenes look at Miles on one evening that August. He flirts with a beautiful reporter for a jazz magazine. He copes with division within his ranks, as two of his musicians (Julius “Cannonball” Adderley and John Coltrane) are on the verge of leaving the Sextet to start their own groups. He deals with substance abuse problems, his own and that of one of his musicians. He argues with the club owner/manager over proper compensation. His biggest challenge may be coming from a violent, crooked, racist cop.

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Reviews

Shari Barrett
"Just be aware this is not just a jazz concert, although the trio creates the perfect smoky club mood as you are seated, waiting for the play to begin. Soon the actors start walking in, stopping to thank patrons who have come to Birdland to hear the Sextet play. But this is a dramatic play, so don't expect to more than a few numbers "played" by the actors, but rather a realistic look at their personal and professional lives as they attempted to cash in on their newly-found fame without destroying their friendships in the process."

sweet - Shari Barrett - Broadway World - ...read full review


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"Thanks to set designer Ernest Gardner, every piece of the set and furniture transports the audience to 1959 Birdland, and makes it truly feel like we are witnessing one of the greatest sextets to ever grace a stage. - RECOMMENDED"

sweet - David Cruz-Chevez - Stage Raw - ...read full review


Rob Stevens
"An added bonus is the trio of live jazz musicians—Marion Newton on bass, Ricardo Mowatt on percussion and playwright Ross himself on saxophone. Robey, along with the expertise of set designer Ernest Gardner, have converted LATC's Theatre 4 into an intimate cabaret room where the audience sits at cozy four-tops to view the action that happens on stages around them. With Birdland Blue, Ross, Guillory and company have created an immersive dive into vintage jazz."

sweet - Rob Stevens - Haines His Way - ...read full review


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"While watching Marcus Clark-Oliver work the club as Davis, the audience has to suspend disbelief. Davis was a short, dark, skinny man with a raspy voice. Clark-Oliver is a tall, light-skinned, handsome man with a healthy voice.  He doesn't really display the essence of a Davis – but rather gives the audience insight into this legendary performer. Clark-Oliver gives a stellar performance. The supporting cast all give enjoyable performances.  The actors who are pretending to play the various instruments are adept at feigning actually playing."

sweet - Darlene Donloe - Donloe's Lowdown - ...read full review


Eric A Gordon
"Birdland Blue belongs to a genre of theatre that I believe we're seeing more and more of these days. Maybe there's a name for it already, but I'd call it “slice of life” theatre. Not much actually happens, but a period is opened up for us and characters are introduced as personality portraits, without there necessarily being a clear narrative that brings them together dramatically. The passage of time alone and the piling up of a succession of interactions and conversations do not a play make, at least not one that observes the conventional formulas. One could argue that, hey, where does Waiting for Godot go—one of the seminal plays by Samuel Beckett that defined the theatre of the absurd and existentialist eras—but Beckett is an outlier that few have tried to imitate and build on. What do the characters in Birdland Blue want, and how successful are they in achieving it? Perhaps the best one might answer is, They want to be left alone to develop their art free of commercial exploitation and police racketeering and to be rewarded commensurate to the public's taste. Their other wants are socially determined—women, fancy cars, induced highs, and ostentatious display of money. Again, this might be the casual locker room puffery men talk about, but it doesn't lift these musicians up into the pantheon of great theatrical characters."

sweet-sour - Eric Gordon - People's World - ...read full review


Avatar
"Birdland Blue is constructed as a series of vignettes, which is why it never manages to build as a drama, catch you up in its conflicts and crises.  That's a pity, because there are good things in the play:, some exciting performances (notably by Oliver, Coty, and Rutledge), a number of well-written scenes, bursts of captivating music,  but unfortunately a play they do not make."

sweet-sour - Willard Manus - Total Theatre - ...read full review


Avatar
"You cross the threshold of the Robey Theatre and are transported back into an actual nightclub with round tables and chairs, a tiny stage, and surrounding you rough walls of brick and plaster... Heading the superb cast is Marcus Clark-Oliver as the mythic Miles Davis;... The show was developed in the Robey Theatre Playwrights' Lab, and has strong imaginative direction by producer Ben Guillory."

sweet - Morna Murphy Martell - Theatre Spoken Here - ...read full review


Shari Barrett
"Just be aware this is not just a jazz concert, although the trio creates the perfect smoky club mood as you are seated, waiting for the play to begin. Soon the actors start walking in, stopping to thank patrons who have come to Birdland to hear the Sextet play. But this is a dramatic play, so don't expect to more than a few numbers "played" by the actors, but rather a realistic look at their personal and professional lives as they attempted to cash in on their newly-found fame without destroying their friendships in the process."

sweet - Shari Barrett - Broadway World - ...read full review


Avatar
"Thanks to set designer Ernest Gardner, every piece of the set and furniture transports the audience to 1959 Birdland, and makes it truly feel like we are witnessing one of the greatest sextets to ever grace a stage. - RECOMMENDED"

sweet - David Cruz-Chevez - Stage Raw - ...read full review


Rob Stevens
"An added bonus is the trio of live jazz musicians—Marion Newton on bass, Ricardo Mowatt on percussion and playwright Ross himself on saxophone. Robey, along with the expertise of set designer Ernest Gardner, have converted LATC's Theatre 4 into an intimate cabaret room where the audience sits at cozy four-tops to view the action that happens on stages around them. With Birdland Blue, Ross, Guillory and company have created an immersive dive into vintage jazz."

sweet - Rob Stevens - Haines His Way - ...read full review


Avatar
"While watching Marcus Clark-Oliver work the club as Davis, the audience has to suspend disbelief. Davis was a short, dark, skinny man with a raspy voice. Clark-Oliver is a tall, light-skinned, handsome man with a healthy voice.  He doesn't really display the essence of a Davis – but rather gives the audience insight into this legendary performer. Clark-Oliver gives a stellar performance. The supporting cast all give enjoyable performances.  The actors who are pretending to play the various instruments are adept at feigning actually playing."

sweet - Darlene Donloe - Donloe's Lowdown - ...read full review


Eric A Gordon
"Birdland Blue belongs to a genre of theatre that I believe we're seeing more and more of these days. Maybe there's a name for it already, but I'd call it “slice of life” theatre. Not much actually happens, but a period is opened up for us and characters are introduced as personality portraits, without there necessarily being a clear narrative that brings them together dramatically. The passage of time alone and the piling up of a succession of interactions and conversations do not a play make, at least not one that observes the conventional formulas. One could argue that, hey, where does Waiting for Godot go—one of the seminal plays by Samuel Beckett that defined the theatre of the absurd and existentialist eras—but Beckett is an outlier that few have tried to imitate and build on. What do the characters in Birdland Blue want, and how successful are they in achieving it? Perhaps the best one might answer is, They want to be left alone to develop their art free of commercial exploitation and police racketeering and to be rewarded commensurate to the public's taste. Their other wants are socially determined—women, fancy cars, induced highs, and ostentatious display of money. Again, this might be the casual locker room puffery men talk about, but it doesn't lift these musicians up into the pantheon of great theatrical characters."

sweet-sour - Eric Gordon - People's World - ...read full review


Avatar
"Birdland Blue is constructed as a series of vignettes, which is why it never manages to build as a drama, catch you up in its conflicts and crises.  That's a pity, because there are good things in the play:, some exciting performances (notably by Oliver, Coty, and Rutledge), a number of well-written scenes, bursts of captivating music,  but unfortunately a play they do not make."

sweet-sour - Willard Manus - Total Theatre - ...read full review


Avatar
"You cross the threshold of the Robey Theatre and are transported back into an actual nightclub with round tables and chairs, a tiny stage, and surrounding you rough walls of brick and plaster... Heading the superb cast is Marcus Clark-Oliver as the mythic Miles Davis;... The show was developed in the Robey Theatre Playwrights' Lab, and has strong imaginative direction by producer Ben Guillory."

sweet - Morna Murphy Martell - Theatre Spoken Here - ...read full review