The lives of two music legends come to Atlanta stages this week in two new productions, one directed by a gay man and the other starring a gay actor.
The warts and all life story of blues singer Bessie Smith is presented in True Color’s world premiere production of “Gut Bucket Blues.”
Smith was regarded as the most famous female blues singer of the ’20s and ’30s, but her life was anything but straightforward. The musical is directed by former Atlantan David H. Bell, who served as the associate artistic director under Kenny Leon for a number of years at the Alliance Theatre.
The openly gay Bell says he has long been a fan of the singer, but his research gave him a new appreciation. He had been working on a Bessie Smith show for a while when Leon called him about collaborating — and the musical became a reality. Bell left the Alliance roughly around the time Leon did. The two had formed a great partnership and always vowed to work together again.