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Circle Theatre

Production Team
Director – Akin Babatundé
Playwrights – Alan Govenar and Akin Babatundé
Head of Production/Production Stage Manager – Donald Jordan
Stage Manager – Katie Trexler
Choreographer & Movement Specialist – Danielle Georgiou

Costume Designer – Amanda Capshaw
Lighting Designer – Nikki DeShea
Scenic Designer – Bob Lavallee
Sound Designer – Jason Johnson-Spinos

Master Carpenter – Rick Morrison
Sound Operator – Rob Menzel
Carpenters – Roger Drummon, Grant Morrison
COVID 19 Safety Manager – Jordan La Grenade

Musical direction by Akin Babatundé based on arrangements by Blind Lemon Jefferson, Akin Babatundé, Alisa Peoples Yarbrough,
and Cavin Yarbrough

Guitar arrangements and recordings by David Weiss

Blind Lemon Jefferson – J. Donray Davis*

Reviewed Performance: 2/4/2023

Reviewed by Carla Wicks, Associate Critic for John Garcia's THE COLUMN

Having no idea about this production, other than name recognition of the musician himself and his connection with Dallas, TX, I was eager to learn about the man – Blind Lemon Jefferson.

I enjoyed the portions of his life story given onstage between musical numbers but left yearning to find out more, which I promptly did via the web.

I want to applaud Mr. Davis on his beautiful portrayal of Blind Lemon. It is not easy to captivate an audience for about an hour and a half with a solo performance. Given he also introduced us to other characters in Blind Lemon’s life each was informatively portrayed with precision and was enjoyable especially as they tied to the musical numbers. I sometimes got lost in the accents wondering where each person represented geographically. Mr. Davis’ enunciation for the most part was good, as was his vocal performance overall, but I did lose a few words here and there and the vocal quality in his lower register was pitchy at times. Beautiful tenor register! I wondered if the music was in its original key and thought a slight tweaking would be helpful. The musical numbers were perfectly placed and brought forth the feelings and story of Blind Lemon’s life experiences. The ability to portray a blind person, for a sighted person, is difficult and he moved around the set well. I wish he had used the cane in front of him more. It did stand out to me as odd he didn’t “check” things directly in front of him. This stage direction detail could be tightened for even more believability.

The staging and lighting were well done, as were the placement of the minimalistic props.

I liked the portions of choreography in certain musical numbers and felt it gave a nice feel to the lyrics.

I wanted Mr. Davis to pick up a guitar prop on a few songs. Since Blind Lemon was very achieved and comfortable with his instrument that would have brought out that detail of his character.

Overall, I enjoyed this production and would recommend it to all ages. The audience was thoroughly engaged throughout. A run time of 77 minutes with no intermission was an appropriate length.

One thing lacking was the run of the show on or in the playbill. I had to go visit the website to find this information. I was disappointed in the Playbill layout. Donor information should be in the back and the solo actor – Mr. Davis, is not featured with his bio until over halfway through the Playbill. I would have wished he was in the first few pages. Also, a short feature about Blind Lemon, with actual pictures would have been nice to have in addition to or in lieu of the collaboration page by the playwrights.

This was my first visit to Circle Theatre, and I was impressed with the beautiful facility and friendly staff. Beautiful reception and a Great Opening night! I hope everyone will go and see this show playing for only one more weekend, February 9-11th.

Lonesome Blues plays at Circle Theatre, 230 West 4th Street in Fort Worth, TX February 3-11th, 2023 with shows Thursday at 7:30, Friday and Saturday at 8:00 pm, and a Saturday matinee at 3 pm. , 817-877-3040