Pasadena Playhouse

The Pasadena Playhouse announced that Blues For An Alabama Sky, by Pearl Cleage, is set as the second production of the 2011 - 2012 season. Pasadena Playhouse Artistic Director Sheldon Epps is also confirmed to direct the production. Blues For An Alabama Sky will replace the engagement of Pastoral which was to have starred Angela Bassett this fall. Performances begin November 1, 2011 and the production will play through November 27, 2011 at The Pasadena Playhouse (39 S. El Molino).

"I have long admired Pearl Cleage's beautifully-written and moving play and hoped to have it land on The Playhouse stage," stated Artistic Director Sheldon Epps. "We had great success with Flyin' West several seasons ago. It will be an honor and a privilege to have her wonderfully-drawn characters, her lyrical and musical language, and her unique storytelling in our house once again. This play is both of its time, and incredibly relevant to the present day. It is a wonderful addition to our upcoming season."

Blues For An Alabama Sky unfolds in the summer of 1930 in Harlem, NY, just as the harsh realities of the Great Depression have devastated an ebullient decade of the Harlem renaissance. Disease and poverty have overshadowed the creative euphoria that permeated and fueled a surge of African American artists, writers and luminaries. Blues For An Alabama Sky introduces a rich cast of characters, scrambling to survive and make some sense of their overlapping personalities, politics and love lives: Angel is a struggling blues singer and nightclub performer who cannot find a job. Her friend Guy, a costume designer, is also out of work but dreams of being hired to design dresses for the famous African-American singer and dancer Josephine Baker. Their neighbor Delia, a social worker, is trying to organize a family planning clinic in Harlem. Their friend Sam, a doctor, works long hours delivering babies at the Harlem Hospital. And Leland, having recently moved to New York from Tuskegee sees in Angel a memory of lost love and a reminder of those "Alabama skies where the stars are so thick it's bright as day."

Blues For An Alabama Sky is Cleage's fourth play and was written in 1995. It premiered in 1996 at The Alliance Theatre in Atlanta starring Phylicia Rashad and was directed by Kenny Leon. In 1996, it was performed during the Atlanta Summer Olympic Games as a part of the Cultural Olympiad. In writing this play, Cleage was interested in portraying the lives of struggling African-American musicians, artists, and social activists in Harlem during the era of the Harlem Renaissance and the depression.