Once staged during the pandemic, a new cabaret about American music legend Ruth Brown is coming to the DCPA

If you didn’t know Ruth Brown’s name, you probably know her music. For Colorado musical theater artists Sheryl McCallum and David Nehls, their admiration for Brown’s music and his legacy — and their desire to expose Brown to even more people — led them to create a new show they present in Denver.

The Garner Galleria Theater will host McCallum and Nehl de Brown’s bio-cabaret — “Rockin’ and Rollin’ With Miss Rhythm” — at Denver’s Center for the Performing Arts for two weekends in June.

Ruth Brown is often called “The R&B singer who built Atlantic Records”, and her career has included topping the music charts, a role in John Waters’ 1988 film hair spray and a Tony-winning role on Broadway in “Black And Blue.”

The cabaret project debuted during the pandemic as a streaming show at Miners Alley Playhouse in Golden. That’s how the producers at the Denver Center For The Performing Arts found him and decided to bring him to Denver.

“At Miners Alley we did two shows a month, starting in July 2020 and running through June 2021,” said co-creator Nehls. “Myself and [Miners Alley Artistic and Executive Director] Len Matheo, we organized these concerts. And because people were at home, they got a lot of views.

Co-creator McCallum said the pair were drawn to Brown’s story because of her ubiquity in American music.

“You hear music, and it’s like, ‘Oh, I didn’t know that was her.’ Or something else, “Mom, if you treat your daughter mean. It’s like, ‘Wait a minute. Oh, that was Ruth Brown,'” McCallum said. It’s exciting to hear and tell the story of this woman who just went through so many ups and downs in her career, like a lot of black artists at that time, but she still almost made it through. reinvent to have this incredible career.

In addition to his storied music career, Brown also helped start the Rhythm and Blues Foundationwho helped black artists get royalties from the sale of their music that were denied to them in the 1940s and 1950s.

The show is an intimate evening filled with music, humor and inspiration. Nehls said he thinks this is the perfect time to remember and celebrate Brown.

“It’s something filled with humor and filled with a lot of introspective reflection,” he said. “And I think it’s time for that.”

“Rockin’ and Rollin’ with Miss Rhythm” plays the Garner Galleria theater June 3-4 and June 10-11.

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