Blues In The Night
This dynamite, dramatic revue thrills us with the universal language of the blues.
Show Essentials

Full Synopsis

Act One

As the music begins, the lights come up on three women sitting in what look like individual hotel rooms in a worn down dive. The women are in period dress, reflecting Chicago in the late 1930's. The Lady from the Road, a warm and beautiful woman in her late 50's or early 60's, has surrounded herself with memories of her brighter past. The Woman of the World, a stylish creature of indeterminate age surrounded by an equal amount of perfume and liquor bottles, spends the evening preparing for her gentleman caller. The Girl With a Date sits in a sparsely decorated room determined to make a fresh start in the big city. Behind them, The Man in the Saloon, at once charming and dangerous, watches with a wary eye and comments with a silver tongue.

The Women sing from their individual areas as they set the stage for the evening. As much as they long for a man to hold them, they're alone. ("Blue Blues") The Man, in the band area, sings about his hard luck as the women dream of a better time to come. ("Four Wall Blues / I've Gotta Date With A Dream") The Man hangs out with the band as the Lady addresses the audience. She introduces the characters on stage, then changes into a flashy costume from her days as a singer. She sings "New Orleans Hop Scop Blues" as she shimmies and dances.

The Woman sits in her armchair and reminisces of days gone by. As she sings, her room is temporarily transformed into a dance hall. ("Stompin' at the Savoy") She sprays herself with perfume as the lights crossfade to the Girl. The Girl turns on her radio and recognizes the tune. ("Taking a Chance on Love")

Addressing the audience, The Lady remembers what good old loving used to feel like. The Woman and the Girl add their voices from their rooms, taking turns and backing her up. ("It Makes My Love Come Down")

The Lady goes behind her screen to change and the Girl exits, leaving the Woman alone on stage. She puts on a dressing gown with great style. ("Lush Life") The man appears in another pary of the stage, singing, then exits. At the end of the song, the Woman exits, leaving the stage bare.

The Man enters alone and dreams of a better life - the life he wishes he had. ("I'm Just a Lucky So and So") The Lady enters in a brightly colored riding outfit, complete with parasol. ("Take Me for a Buggy Ride") The Man sings "Wild Women Don't Have No Blues," singing to each of the women, instructing them. The Women respond with "Lover Man," then join him in "Wild Women Don't Have No Blues."

The Girl, feeling lonely, sings "Willow Weep for Me." The Man shakes his head and exits as The Lady re-enters in a large feathered hat and too much costume jewelry singing a raunchy song about the kind of man she needs. ("Kitchen Man")

The Girl and The Woman enter from opposite sides and wing "When Your Lover Has Gone." The Lady joins them and they sing "Take It Right Back," proclaiming that they are done with low-down dirty dog men.

Act Two

The lights come up on each person as they begin to sing. They are alone in their individual areas. ("Blues in the Night") The singers have become more and more undone, drinking steadily and slowly over the course of the evening. The shine is beginning to wear off as they reveal their true situations. The Lady addresses the audience explaining that it's "Blues Time" - around three in the morning. The Girl's date never showed up, The Woman never had anyone to begin with, and the Lady is alone with her memories. The Lady says she needs to talk to the women in the audience and tells the men to either leave or cover their ears. The other Women back her up. ("Dirty No-Gooder Blues")

The Man and the Women trade off as they talk about their worn down hearts. The Man wishes for a woman to love him the way he is. The Women lament over how untrustworthy men can be. ("When a Woman Loves a Man / Am I Blue") As the Man starts to leave, The Woman comes downstage and focuses on him singing that she wants a "Rough and Ready Man" - one who isn't afraid to work. The Man shivers and exits as The Woman gets more and more carried away.

The Girl, sitting at the table in her room is clearly a little drunk. She feels she's growing old and has to live while she can, teasing the men in the audience with the "Reckless Blues." The rest of the stage goes dark and The Lady is taking one last look at her scrapbook and sings the "Wasted Life Blues." She lies down on her bed as if she intends never to get up again. The Man enters and sings "Baby Doll," looking at The Lady. He turns to the audience and turns up the heat, then struts off cockily.

The Woman sits alone at her vanity, staring into the mirror. ("Nobody Knows You When You're Down and Out") The Lady and The Girl add their voices to hers.

In the Finale, all four singers join in "I Gotta Right to Sing the Blues / Blue Blues." We are left with an emotional impression of what life was like in the late 1930's in Chicago - good music, hard lives, and dreams that stretch on long into the night.

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Cast Size: Small (Up to 10 performers)
Cast Type: Ensemble Cast
Dance Requirements: None

Character Breakdown

The Woman Of The World
A beautiful and stylish woman who came from a grandiose and rich lifestyle. She deludes herself into believing she is still living the high life and spends each evening preparing for the next gentleman caller. Hides behind a sophisticated veneer but is capable of great humor, sensuality, and emotion.
Gender: female
Age: 50 to 60
Vocal range top: A5
Vocal range bottom: F3
The Girl With A Date
A youthful, energetic, enthusiastic girl. Bright and clever, but innocent and prone to vulnerability. Her drinking reveals a range of emotions and surprisingly uncharacteristic bitterness.
Gender: female
Age: 18 to 21
Vocal range top: C6
Vocal range bottom: E3
The Lady From The Road
A warm and beautiful African-American woman. Humorous and full of gossip, she possesses a wealth of experience in her long life. Has fallen from grace and she knows it, but hopeful she will rise again.
Gender: female
Age: 55 to 65
Vocal range top: Ab5
Vocal range bottom: E3
The Man In The Saloon
A simultaneously very charming and slightly dangerous guy. Exudes confidence and control in his sly remarks to the women, but is secretly frustrated and lonely.
Gender: male
Age: 30 to 40
Vocal range top: Ab4
Vocal range bottom: Ab2
Full Song List
Blues In The Night: Blue Blues
Blues In The Night: Four Walls (And One Dirty Window) Blues
Blues In The Night: I've Got A Date With A Dream
Blues In The Night: Stompin' At The Savoy
Blues In The Night: Taking A Chance On Love
Blues In The Night: It Makes My Love Come Down
Blues In The Night: I'm Just A Lucky So-And-So
Blues In The Night: Take Me For A Buggy Ride
Blues In The Night: Wild Women Don't Have The Blues
Blues In The Night: Lover Man
Blues In The Night: Willow Weep For Me
Blues In The Night: Take It Right Back
Blues In The Night: Blues In The Night
Blues In The Night: Rough And Ready Man
Blues In The Night: Reckless Blues
Blues In The Night: Wasted Life Blues
Blues In The Night: Baby Doll
Blues In The Night: Nobody Knows You When You're Down And Out
Blues In The Night: I Gotta Right To Sing The Blues

Show History


Blues In The Night is both inspired by and a send-up to the indigenous American art form known as the blues , and some of the songs and voices that made it what it is.


Blues In The Night is a musical revue conceived by Sheldon Epps, featuring the torch songs and blues of Duke Ellington, Bessie Smith, Johnny Mercer, Harold Arlen, Vernon Duke, Gordon Jenkins, and Alberta Hunter, among others.

The revue was originally staged at the Off-Broadway Playhouse 46 by Sheldon Epps and Gregory Hines (under the supervision of Norman Ren), where it ran from March 26 to May 11, 1980, for 51 performances.  David Brunetti, Rise Collins, Suzanne M. Henry, and Gwen Shepherd comprised the original cast.

Blues In The Night then moved uptown to Broadway where it began previews on May 20, 1982, and opened at the Rialto Theatre on June 2, 1982. Directed by Epps, the cast included Jean Du Shon, Debbie Shapiro, Leslie Uggams, and Charles Coleman. Though the show only played 53 performances, it was nominated for the Tony Award for Best Musical .

After New York, Blues In The Night took to London, opening in the West End at the Donmar Warehouse on June 9, 1987. Staged by Steve Whately, it starred Maria Friedman, Debby Bishop, Carol Woods, and Clarke Peters. It ran through July 19, 1987, before transferring to the Piccadilly Theatre for a September 23, 1987 to July 28, 1988 run.

On September 14, 1988, a revival production opened Off-Broadway at the Minetta Lane Theatre in New York City. It ran for 45 performances through October 23, 1988, and featured Carol Woods, Brenda Pressley, Kathleen Rowe McAllen and Lawrence Hamilton in the cast.

In addition to these high-profile productions, Blues In The Night has played to much success in various regional theatres throughout the country, including those in Chicago, Boston, San Francisco, Minnesota, and Milwaukee to name a few.

Cultural Influence

  • On August 25th and 26th 1987, during the initial London run of Blues In The Night at the Donmar Warehouse, live recordings of the cast were made and compiled into one cast album released by First Night Records.


  • Blues In The Night received a nomination for Best Musical at the 1983 Tony Awards, as well as nominations for Best New Musical and Best Actress in a Musical at the 1987 Laurence Olivier Awards.
  • For the 1982 Broadway run of Blues In The Night legendary singer Ruth Brown played The Lady in previews but due to her ailing health, was replaced when the show opened by Miss Jean DuShon, who went on to receive rave reviews, most notably for her interpretation of the tragic "Wasted Life Blues".

Critical Reaction

"The sauciest, nattiest and most goosebump-inducing tracks around& a heady evocation of a time gone by. And it s pure pleasure." - Time Out London

"You'll be won over by this celebration of great old songs." - San Francisco Gate

"Marvelous songs, all of them." - Chicago Reader

"It works. Director Sheldon Epps, who first workshopped the play 15 years ago and brought it to Broadway two years later, meets his goal to entertain." - Variety

"Blues In The Night, a revue of music from that moody, marvelous, moonlit genre, arrives at Bailiwick Repertory with promising advance word, and deservedly so." - Chicago Tribune

Tony® Award

1983 - Musical, Nominee (Mitchell Maxwell, Alan J. Schuster, Fred H. Krones, M2 Entertainment, Inc (producers))
1983 - Best Musical, Nominee (Blues in the Night)




Under the terms and conditions of your organisation’s Performance Agreement, the following credits must appear on all advertising (including websites) relating to the production. Credits must be reproduced faithfully in accordance with the following layout. No alterations or deletions can be permitted unless stated below.
Percentages listed indicate required type size in relation to title size.




Conceived and Originally Directed by SHELDON EPPS 75%


Original Vocal Arrangements and Musical Direction by
Orchestrations and Additional Vocal Arrangements by



Note: Billing must be in the exact order as listed above. Mr. Roberts' &

Mr. Johnson's billing must be of at least equal prominence to that of

the director of this production.


Licensee agrees to insert in each program of the play the following credit

line for each of the following compositions:



Conceived and Originally Directed by



As an integral part of this license, licensee further agrees to insert in each program of the Play, the following credit line exactly as listed for each of the following compositions:


"Blue Blues"

by Bessie Smith; by permission of Frank Music Corp.

"Four Walls (And One Dirty Window) Blues"
by Willard Robinson; by permission of The Jewel Music Publishing Co., Inc.

"I've Got A Date With A Dream"
by Mack Gordon and Harry Revel; by permission of SBK/Feist Catalog, Inc.

"New Orleans Hop Scop Blues"
by George W. Thomas; by permission of Jerry Vogel Music Co., Inc.

"Stompin At The Savoy"
by Benny Goodman, And Razaf, Edgar Sampson and Cick Webb; by permission of SBK Robbins
Catalogue, Inc. and RYTVOC, Inc.

"Taking A Chance On Love"
by Vernon Duke, John LaTouche and Ted Fetter; by permission by SBK Miller Catalogue, Inc.

"It Makes My Love Come Down"
by Bessie Smith; used by permission of Frank Music Corp.

"Lush Life"
by Billy Strayhorn; used by permission of Tempo Music, Inc.

"I'm Just A Lucky So-and-So"
by Duke Ellington and Mack David; used by permission by T.B. Harms Company, a Polygram International Music Publishing Company and Famous Music Publishing Company

"Take Me For A Buggy Ride"
by Leola and Wesley Wilson; used by permission of Frank Music Corp.

"Wild Women Don't Have The Blues"
by Ida Cox; used by permission of Northern Music Company

"Lover Man"
by Jimmy Davis, Jimmy Sherman and Roger "Ram" Ramirez; used by permission of MCA Music Publishing

"Willow Weep For Me"
by Ann?Ronell; used by permission of the Bourne Company

"Kitchen Man"
by Andy Razaf and Wesley Wilson; used by permission of MCA Music Publishing

"When Your Lover Has Gone"
by E.A. Swan; used by permission of Warner Bros., Inc.

"Take It Right Back"
by H. Grey



"Jam Session (Wild Women Don't Have The Blues")
by Ida Cox; by permission of Northern Music Company

"Blues In?The Night"
by Harold Arlen and Johnny Mercer; by permission of Warner Bros., Inc.

"Dirty No-Gooder's Blues"
by Bessie Smith; used by permission of Frank Music Corp.

"When A Woman Loves A Man/Am I Blue?"
by Johnny Mercer, Gordon Jenkins and Bernard Hanighen/
by Grand Clarke and Harry Akst; used by permission of Chappell & Co.,/
used by permission of Warner Bros., Inc.

"Rough and Ready Man"
by Alberta Hunter; used by permission of Alberta Hunter Music Co.
"Reckless Blues"
by Bessie Smith; used by permission of Frank Music Corp.

"Wasted Life Blues"
by Bessie Smith; used by permission of Frank Music Corp.

"Baby Doll"
by Bessie Smith; used by permission of Frank Music Corp.

"Nobody Knows You When You're Down and Out"
by Jimmy Cox; used by permission of MCA Publishing

"I Gotta Right To Sing The Blues"
by Harold Arlen and Ted Koehler; used by permission of Warner Bros., Inc.

"Four Walls"
(Reprise); used by permission of Jewel Music Publishing Co., Inc.

The videotaping or other video or audio recording of this production is strictly prohibited.

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