It was a time and place for Duke Ellington and the Jitterbug, for Billie Holiday and the St. Louis Shag. Where blacks and whites forgot their differences and created a new community of friendship, business, and most of all, music. Where? Cleveland, 1940s, East 55th Street.
Double Nickel Blues is the hot new musical written and directed by Margaret Ford-Taylor that tells the story of when Cleveland’s nights were filled with the sound of jazz and laughter, the smell of cigarettes and perfume, and the sight of people coming together, grooving under the spell of the lowdown blues.
The Cleveland State University Factory Theater will present the world premiere of Double Nickel Blues on Thursday, January 31. Performances run through Sunday, February 10.
Show times are at 8 p.m. on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays and 3 p.m. on Sundays. Performances at 3 p.m. will also take place on Saturday, February 2 and Saturday, February 9. (Friday, February 8 is sold out.) Tickets are $5 for students, seniors and Cleveland State faculty and staff, and $10 for general admission.
According to Ford-Taylor, Double Nickel Blues is based on the existence of dozens of black businesses, churches, and social and civic organizations on Cleveland’s east side during the 1940s. The play captures the essence of the lives of the people who owned them, their stories woven together with the music that consoled and inspired them.
Extensive and ongoing research of the period, including more than 100 interviews of senior citizens as well as photographs and film footage from public and private collections, provide the foundation for the Double Nickel Blues script. The Cleveland narrative is a microcosmic representation of what was occurring throughout the nation.
The Factory Theater is located at 1833 East 24th Street, between Chester and Payne avenues.
The box office is open weekdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. or may be reached at 216.687.2109. Tickets may also be purchased in Factory Theater lobby one-half hour before show time.
Information is available at www.csuohio.edu/theater. Parking is located off East 24th Street between Chester and Payne avenues.
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