By Patie deVries.
SLIPPIN' THROUGH THE CRACKS, The Blues Journey of Bobby Rush, kicks off the Goodman Theatre's prestigious annual New Stages Festival in Chicago on Friday December 8, 2023 at 7:30 PM CT.
The Blues journey of Bobby Rush takes us from the sharecropped fields and earthy juke joints of the deep south to the hot Chicago Blues scene where he broke the color barrier on Rush Street. In this new musical, created with writer Stephen Helper, the 90-year-old Blues superstar shares his moving, often hilarious story of “slippin’ through the cracks” he found in the walls of prejudice, hardship and loss to arrive at resilience and reconciliation. A celebration of authentic Black culture, more than 25 of his great Blues and Funk songs will tell the tale and rock the house!
Bobby Rush's inspiring yet little-known story is told in Slippin' Through the Cracks by a cast of 14 actors and five musicians who play family members, business associates, fellow artists, and others in Rush's exciting and turbulent life. As a thrilling coda to the musical, Mr. Rush joins the company on stage, for the big finale “Funky Old Man!”
Bobby Rush wrote the music and lyrics for Slippin' Through the Cracks. Classics that will be featured are: "Shake it For Me," "Mary Jane," "One Monkey Don't Make No Show," "I Wanna Do the Do," and Bobby's biggest hit, "Chicken Heads." The book is by Mr. Rush, and Stephen Lloyd Helper, who conceived the Broadway hit Smokey Joe's Café. The show is co-directed by Stephen Helper and Arminda Thomas, and the musical director is Jeremy Jones. The show is co-produced with the Goodman Theatre by Wendall K. Harrington and Slippin' Through the Cracks, LLC.
The cast includes some Chicago's finest actors including Eric Lewis as Bobby Rush, Kelvin Rostron Jr., Gabrielle Lott-Rogers, Aerial Williams and Donica Lynn. It also features the great Hosea Griffith up from Mississippi and Grammy winner Walter Russell III (MJ).
Two-time Grammy-winner, Blues Hall of Famer, seven-time Grammy nominee, and 14-time Blues Music Award winner Bobby Rush has been making recordings for nearly 70 years with more than 400 recordings and 27 studio albums to his name.
Slippin' Through The Cracks encapsulates the message Bobby Rush has for us today: "If a dirt-poor country boy, with no education, no opportunities, faced with great troubles, can make it through life doing what he loves, so can you."
For Bobby Rush, his Grammy wins, nominations, Blues music awards, and keys to countless cities are recognition of his storytelling gifts, music making, and the deep connection his songs have with all that hear them. They thrive now in a great score, married to an excellent story for the theatre.