‘Blues in the Night’ – If Music Be the Food of Love, A Feast Awaits at Long Beach’s ICT

By Ernest Kearney  —  As any good jazz aficionado worth his “sax” knows, Blues in the Night was a song written and composed by Harold Arlen and Johnny Mercer for the 1941 film.

The tune quickly became a standard performed by the likes of Rosemary Clooney, Peggy Lee, Shirley Bassey and Ella Fitzgerald with the slightly reworked lyrics recognizable to almost everyone:

My mama done tol’ me,
When I was in pig tails
My mama done tol’ me,
Hon!  A man’s gonna sweet talk…

In the 1980s when Sheldon Epps conceived of constructing a revue bordering on operetta from 26 classical tunes by such artists as Bessie Smith, Duke Ellington and others, the title of the Arlen/Mercer song seemed a perfect fit for the show he was envisioning.

Since its Broadway opening in 1982 it’s doubtful a year has passed without there being at least two dozen (likely more) revivals of the Tony nominated musical across the nation.

In this latest staging, three women – Jenna Gillespie Byrd, Karole Foreman and Vivian Reed – all sing of the hopes and heartbreaks they’ve experienced and suffered at the hands of those dirty, cheating, lying snakes.

AKA: Men.

Standing in as the straw man for all us spermatozoa-dispensing sinners is Parris D. Mann.

Blues in the Night is a perfect show for the audiences of Long Beach’s International City Theatre and Producing Artistic Director caryn desai’s venue is the perfect stage for it.

Director Wren T. Brown, with the skillful crew at the ICT has provided a sophisticated and stunning professional staging, and the uber-talented Byrd, Foreman, Reed and Mann have seen to it that this has not gone to waste.

The sum of all the appreciable parts in this production have added up to a show that is both sorrowful and celebratory and guarantees that one leaves the theater fully entertained. 


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Blues in the Night
Playing now through Nov. 7, 2021
Long Beach’s International City Theatre
330 East Seaside Way
Long Beach, CA 90802

For reservations and information

Call the Box Office:
562-436-4610 (M-F 9am – 5pm)
or go to

Written by

An award-winning L.A. playwright and rabble-rouser of note who has hoisted glasses with Orson Welles, been arrested on three continents and once beat up Charlie Manson. His first play, "Among the Vipers" was a semi-finalist in the Julie Harris Playwriting Competition and was featured in the Carnegie-Mellon Showcase of New Plays. It was produced at the NPT Theater in Ashland, Oregon and Los Angeles’ celebrated Odyssey Ensemble Theatre. His following play, “The Little Boy Who Loved Monsters” was produced at The Hollywood Actors Theater, where he earned praise from the Los Angeles Times for his “…inordinately creative writing.” The play went on to numerous other productions including Berlin’s The Black Theatre under the direction of Rainer Fassbinder who wrote in his program notes of Kearney, “He is a skilled playwright, but more importantly he is a dangerous one.” Ernest Kearney has worked as literary manager or as dramaturge for among others The Hudson Theater Guild, Nova Diem and the Odyssey Ensemble Theatre, where he still serves on the play selection committee. He has been the recipient of two Dramalogue Awards and a finalist or semi-finalist, three times, in the Julie Harris Playwriting Competition. His work has been performed by Michael Dunn, Sandra Tsing Loh, Jack Colvin and Billy Bob Thornton, and to date, either as playwright or director, he has upwards of a hundred and thirty productions under his belt, including a few at the Bob Baker Marionette Theater as puppeteer. Kearney remains focused on his writing, as well as living happily ever after with his lovely wife Marlene. His stage reviews and social essays can be found at TheTVolution.com and workingauthor.com. Follow him on Facebook.

Latest comment
  • Dear skeeter, it was so good to see your sweet handsome face! It’s been a lifetime since i last saw you, right before you left for ireland after you performed the play “Fiddler on the Roof” at los angeles city college. I saw you there when you played one of the sons. i cherish the wonderful memories we did have together. i loved you with all my heart but you had to go to ireland to find yourself and some answers that were burning in your heart, and i never saw you again until i saw you on this website. although we are both quite old now, i have never stopped loving you. you will always have part of my heart wherever you go. and i will love you until the day that i die. i am married to johnny miller, the riverside cowboy. He’s a trucker/singer/songwriter. he hasn’t quite made it but i have always encouraged him to do what he loves to do. But i seldom see him because he’s either on the road or performing his music. i would have done the same for you, i would have always encouraged you to follow your dreams. i am very happy for you that you did accomplish your dreams even though your dreams did not include me. i am happy for you that you have a wife and daughter that fills your life with love and happiness. you were right, i will always love you to the day that i die. i wish that you and i had shared our lives together but that apparently wasn’t meant to be.


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