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".