Artistic Director of The Ensemble Theatre EILEEN J. MORRIS

Presents the Musical


Conceived and Originally Directed by Sheldon Epps

Original Vocal Arrangements and Musical Direction by Chapman Roberts

Orchestration and Additional Vocal Arrangements by Sy Johnson


Directed and Choreographed by Patdro Harris

Musical Direction and Additional Arrangements by Carlton Leake

June 18 - July 24, 2011

BLUES IN THE NIGHT is Showing at the Ensemble Theatre through July 24, 2011.  Photo courtesy of the Ensemble Theatre.



An Awesome Night Of The Blues

Interview with Director Patdro Harris and Blues Singer Candice D'Meza

For the Musical BLUES IN THE NIGHT at The Ensemble Theatre


By Theresa Pisula
June 23, 2011
Houston, Texas



Prepare yourself.  I urge you to prepare yourself to witness and experience the most amazing, the most awesome Night of the Blues ever performed in Houston, Texas.  Roenia Thompson, Regina Renae Hearne, Candice D’Meza seem to be possessed with angelic voices sent directly from the heavens above.  While the lone male Timothy Eric who plays The Man in the Saloon, struts around in his dapper zoot suit and performs his pimped-out swagger like the devil in disguise. 


Blues In the Night is a Tony-nominated scorching Broadway musical set in a seedy 1930s Chicago hotel. A compilation of blues songs that interweave stories of life, loss and love through the unrivalled tunes and lyrics of Bessie Smith, Duke Ellington, Johnny Mercer, Harold Arlen, Alberta Hunter, Ida Cox and more. The music is raunchily forthright, infectiously good-humored and always classically blues. Following the lives of three colorfully characterized women and a male saloon singer, songs include “When A Woman Loves A Man”, “ Lover Man”, “I’m Just A Lucky So-and So”, and the compelling song that spotlights the essence of blues music.


Blues In the Night is now showing at the Ensemble Theatre from June 18 – July 24, 2011.  Directed and choreographed by Patdro Harris, Blues in the Night is also with the musical direction of Carlton Leake, who also has additional arrangements in the show.  Unfortunately, my superlatives do not do this evening’s performance justice.  Just imagine……




My mama done tol' me
When I was in pigtails
My mama done tol' me
A man's gonna sweet-talk and give you the big eyes
But when the sweet-talking's done
A man is a two-face, a worrisome thing
Who'll leave you to sing the blues in the night

Now the rain's a-fallin'
Hear the train a-callin, "whoo-ee!"
My mama done tol' me
Hear that lonesome whistle blowin' 'cross the trestle, "whoo-ee!"
My mama done tol' me
A-whooee-ah-whooee ol' clickety-clack's
A-echoin' back th' blues in the night

The evenin' breeze'll start the trees to cryin'
And the moon'll hide it's light
When you get the blues in the night
Take my word, the mockingbird'll sing the saddest kind o' song
He knows things are wrong, and he's right

From Natchez to Mobile,
From Memphis to St. Joe
Wherever the four winds blow
I been in some big towns
An' heard me some big talk
But there is one thing I know
A man's a two-face, a worrisome thing
Who'll leave you to sing the blues in the night
Yes the lonely, lonely blues in the night


Patdro Harris, director, Broadway choreographer and writer, has combined his directing, chorographical and writing skills to become one of the most innovative and creative talents of our time.  He is nationally and internationally recognized and respected by fans, colleagues and critics.  He was voted “Best Director” by the Star Tribune-Minneapolis.  He choreographed the Tony Award-winning Broadway hit A Raisin in the Sun starring Sean Combs and Phylicia Rashad.  Patdro has traveled the world as choreographer and lead dancer for the incomparable Stevie Wonder.  I first interviewed Mr. Harris back in 2009 for the Ensemble Theatre’s Christmas show:


2009 Interview with Director Patdro Harris



Theresa:  Tell us about the musical BLUES IN THE NIGHT…….

Patdro:  I would call it folklore because it’s out of the music of the people.  Some ‘20s, some ‘30s, some early ’40, so you’ll listen to some music of Bessie Smith, Alberta Hunter and Fats Waller.  As you know the music working through the years, you get a concept of what you think the Blues is.  And the Blues, for me, is like going to the doctor.  It’s like “THERAPY”, to be able to get the truth.  It’s like therapy in the sense that you don’t want to hear it but that’s what it is.  There’s not a great book that goes with it, by book being a linear story but the four characters have distinct personalities.  There’s a Lady from the Road, you know she wants to be a star at one time.  Then a Woman of the World, she travels around with the finer things in life.  The Girl who is very hopeful of going out on a date, she has hope of becoming one of all things these women are.  Then, there’s the Man in the Saloon, he prides himself in being a showman and the best ladies’ man out there.  They sing the music and they don’t get a chance to speak but you hear it in their lives. 




(In alphabetical order)

The Man In the Saloon………..………….Timothy Eric

The Girl with a Date………………….Candice D’Meza

The Lady from the Road……...........…..Regina Hearne

The Woman of the World……….……Roenia Thompson



Theresa:  So it’s primarily the music……

Patdro:  It’s definitely the music, not a big story.  All the songs, you know, Take Me for a Buggy Ride, of course Blues in the Night which is the theme song; Kitchen Man, When your Lover’s Come and Gone so it’s got some great songs in there…….



Madam Bucks
Was quite deluxe;
Servants by the score,
Footmans at each door,
Butlers and maids galore!
But one day Dan,
Her kitchen man,
Gave in his notice, he's through!
She cried, "Oh Dan don't go,
It'll grieve me if you do".
I love his cabbage, crave his hash,
Daffy about his succotash,
I can't do without my kitchen man!
Wild about his turnip top,
Like the way he warms my chop,
I can't do without my kitchen man!
Anybody else could leave
And I would only laugh,
But he means that much to me,
And you ain't heard the half!
Oh, his jelly roll is so nice and hot,
Never fails to test the spot,
I can't do without my kitchen man!
His frankfurters are oh so sweet,
How I like his sausage meat,
I can't do without my kitchen man!
Oh, how that boy can open clams,
No-one else can catch my hams,
I can't do without my kitchen man!
When I eat his doughnut,
All I leave is the hole!
Any time he wants to,
Why, he can use my sugar bowl!
Oh, his baloney's really worth a try,
Never fails to satisfy,
I can't do without my kitchen man!

Theresa:  As Director and Choreographer, what did you have to do to prepare for the role?  Now I know you cast very early in the year for the Ensemble Theatre, as early as the season was announced.  But in the last few months before the show started, didn’t you have to re-cast?

Patdro:  We had to re-cast.  We lost a person so we had to cast the Lady from the Road.  And then we had to re-cast the Girl as well.  We cast somebody, the one we hired, but then they could not do it.  And so we had to replace them.  The challenge is the matching of the voices, you know, you pray that the right people come in and that the ladies don’t sound similar.  The Girl has to have innocence about her.  So we had to choose a voice that sounds innocent, you know?  So you have to look for that person.

 The Lady from the Road, the more experienced person, Regina Hearne came in and was absolutely wonderful.  She came in and gave us the right feel.  So you have to match the singers.  You have 3 other people in the cast so the best person has to fit in properly.  So that’s probably the most difficult, finding the right voices.  When casting the roles, some people were very good but they didn’t fit the match.  It’s like finding a nice shoe but it’s not the right color.  The voices are like that too.


Theresa:  How many people did you have to audition when you were trying to re-cast?

Patdro:  In the re-cast, we had a couple of auditions.  We saw about 10 people the first day, we kept 2 out of those 10.  Then we had another call-back and saw another 7 people.  So maybe about 17, almost 20 people, and out of those 20 we selected the Girl, Candice.  She actually came in the first time.  She got better and better every time we saw her.  So, that was good.

Theresa:  Wow.  You picked her the first time you saw her?

Patdro:  Yeah.  We gave her a call back.  Out of the first 10 girls, we picked 3 girls to come back.  And she was one of the three.  But we had some additional girls who could not come.  Some people came in from LA and all that stuff.  So, Candice was the choice……


Theresa:  Wow, that’s awesome.  I mean, the process, I just can’t imagine…’s fascinating.  Now let’s talk about your musical background.  Do you play any musical instruments?

Patdro:  I went to school as a Music Major.  I played sax.

Theresa:  Did you?

Patdro:  Yeah.

Theresa:  So you’re a Jazz man (laughs).

Patdro:  Yeah.  I know beats, I have an understanding.  But, I don’t play anymore, I wish I could.  I want to get into the hobby of playing.  But no, I don’t play anymore.  I understand music from there, so that’s good.


Theresa:  Here at the Ensemble Theatre, you are the primary director for all the musicals.  I’ve seen THE WIZ, Five Guys Named Moe and I interviewed you for the Christmas musical.  Where did you get your musical influence?

Patdro:  My mom owned a club.

Theresa:  Did she?

Patdro:  When I was growing up, at night 9 o’clock was my bedtime.  So at 9 o’clock during the week, I would sleep under the bar where the cash register was.

Theresa:  (laughs).  Did she sing?

Patdro:  She didn’t sing but I heard music all night.  There was a jukebox.  If you had a quarter, you could play 3 songs.  And they used to give me a quarter and they would say, “Pick the song,” because I knew what was on there.  There were 2 songs for them and one song for me.  That means 2 songs for the old people and one song for the kids.  So I heard music all the time.

Theresa:  How old were you?

Patdro:  When we first got there?  Maybe like 9 or 8.

Theresa:  And you would sleep under the bar?

Patdro:  I’d sleep under the bar every night, go to bed at 9 o’clock, woke up at 12 midnight to go home and then woke up to go to school.  That was my routine until the weekend when I could stay up late.  On Fridays I didn’t have a curfew to go home, you know.  So I could stay up a little bit later.  But every night when I went to bed, I heard music when I would sleep.  Like Johnny Taylor, Bobby Blues band, BB King.  So I heard all the ol’ Blues people of that time in the ‘70s and stuff.  So I heard that. 

Theresa:  Wow.

Patdro:  Then I got to be in the band and play the sax.  But I always had a sense of rhythm and music.  I listened to Michael Jackson and all these kinds of things every day.

Theresa:  That’s amazing.  That’s a lot of musical influence.

Patdro:  So every day of my life, I heard music.

Theresa:  Was it a Blues bar specifically?

Patdro:  No, it wasn’t a Blues bar.  It was just a club that had a variety of music.  But the older people in the neighborhood tend to like the Blues.  Johnny Taylor would be a Blues person.  Bobby Womack would be a Blues-y kind of person, you know.  I’ve been fed with a lot of music in my life.

Theresa:  Wow, that’s so awesome.  Where were you born?

Patdro:  Montgomery, Alabama.  I grew up there and I moved away when I finished college.  And then I moved to Atlanta.  That’s a good point, you know.  Carlton Leake, our musical director is from Memphis, Tennessee and I’m from Montgomery.  So we got the Civil Rights between us.  You got a musical that’s got great musical background and plus being Bill Street and all the Blues.  He brings all that into the project too, as well.



Theresa:  Do you live in Houston?

Patdro:  No, I live in Atlanta.

Theresa:  So you come to Houston to work on the Ensemble Theatre musicals.

Patdro:  Yes.  I travel all around the country.  Next season I’ll be here, then I have to direct a play in California.  And then I direct a play in Syracuse.  And then I come back here again.

Theresa:  How does Houston compare musically to other cities where you’ve been?

Patdro:  What do you mean?

Theresa:  Do we just listen to Country & Western music here?  (Laughs)

Patdro:  Oh no, no.  You get a variety.  Everybody has to have flavor.  It depends on what kind of music you like.  Every city has a particular…..a main theme, but because of cable television everybody watches the same thing. 

Theresa:  Sure.

Patdro:  It has a bigger influence.  But if you go to New Orleans, you get a certain beat.  There’s a kaleidoscope here, there’s the Big Easy over here, there’s the Blues here.  Houston is a great little music town.  Houston has some wonderful, wonderful singers.


Theresa:  What kind of music do you listen to?  What do you prefer, personally?

Patdro:  It depends.  It depends on how I feel.  Some days when I’m reading something I like classical music.  No vocals.  That’s for reading early in the morning or something like that.  Sometimes, I feel very jazzy, so I put on some saxophone.  Music tells me what to do so I have to watch what I play.  Most of the time, its work though. 

Theresa:  So lately you’ve been listening to jazz….

Patdro:  Jazz and the Blues.


Theresa:  What would you like to say to the Houston theatre-going audience?

Patdro:  Come and support theatre.  Not just theatre at the Ensemble but come and support theatre.  That’s how theatre gets to grow with people’s support.  You have to meet us halfway.  If you like somebody, donate.  Come and see it, bring the young people.  Especially shows that are appealing.  Support theatre as much as you can.


Nobody Knows You When You’re Down and Out

Once I lived the life of a millionaire
Spending my money, I didn't care
I carried my friends out for a good time
Buying bootleg liquor, champagne and wine

Then I began to fall so low
I didn't have a friend, and no place to go
So if I ever get my hand on a dollar again
I'm gonna hold on to it till them eagle's green

Nobody knows you when you down and out
In my pocket not one penny
And my friends I haven't any
But If I ever get on my feet again
Then I'll meet my long lost friend
It's mighty strange, without a doubt
Nobody knows you when you down and out
I mean when you down and out

Mmmmmmmm.... when you're down and out
Mmmmmmmm... not one penny
And my friends I haven't any
Mmmmmmmm... Well I felt so low
Nobody wants me round their door
Mmmmmmmm... Without a doubt,
No man can use you wen you down and out
I mean when you down and out


(L-R) Roenia Thompson, Regina Renae Hearne and Candice D'Meza star in BLUES IN THE NIGHT showing at the Ensemble Theatre through July 24, 2011.  Photo courtesy of the Ensemble Theatre.


Candice D’Meza plays the Girl with a Date in this year’s Ensemble Theatre production of BLUES IN THE NIGHT.  Candice is a Los Angeles native who relocated to Houston in 2010.  Her family now lives in Katy, Texas where she is currently raising her two sons, a 9-month old and a 3-year old.  She has vocal and West African dance training, and has been a part of over eight productions in Southern California – performing roles in Lend Me a Tenor (Maria), Into the Woods (Stepmother), and The Colored Museum (Miss Roj).  Candice graduated with a Masters degree in Public Administration from California State University, Long Beach in December 2010, and decided to return to the world of acting.  Her Houston acting debut was as the lead character in the Houston – based play called The Other Side of Me in March 2011.  Candice is excited about continuing to develop her craft in Houston, and is looking forward to more opportunities.


Theresa:  Tell us about the part that you’re playing in this musical……

Candice:  BLUES IN THE NIGHT is basically a great snapshot of a time in American history of Blues music which grew into Jazz.  It’s the first homegrown American music.  So I think this show really captures the feeling, the culture and the essence of the people that grew this music.  It puts it in scenarios that make it easy to relate to, so I think that’s what the play is about.  My character is called Girl with a Date…..

Theresa:  Is she a young girl like you?

Candice:  Yes, like me…….well, like I look (giggling).  She’s in a big city.  Although she doesn’t really have any dialogue, except for the songs.  You get the feeling that she’s bright eyed and hopeful about the world.  She hasn’t really been tainted by too much negative life experiences.  She’s coming to meet a date and she gets stood up.  So she goes on this journey through the songs from heartbreak.  She gets a bit frustrated and decides to go a little bit reckless.  And then decides, “You know what?  I’m gonna pull it together and be somebody’s angel child.  I’ll live my life straight and hopefully to find that dream guy.”


Theresa:  So you’re singing the whole time?

Candice:  Yeah. 

Theresa:  Onstage?

Candice:  Yeah

Theresa:  Oh my gosh!  I am so excited for you!  How did you get this part?

Candice:  Well, I’m originally from L. A.  I moved here last year in 2010. After I finished school I thought, “You know, I think I wanna act.”  So I did one small, very small play here in Houston.

Theresa:  Where did you finish school?

Candice:  Cal State Long Beach.  Yeah, so it was a Masters in Public Administration and then I totally jumped to something else.  I thought, “Let me try Acting.”  I never tried it in L. A.  I thought “Oh, I can’t do it.”  So a friend told me about this audition.  I guess it was a replacement.  They had already cast a role.  So I came to the audition, and then got called back, and then months later, got the part!


Theresa:  Did you sing your heart out?  (Laughs)

Candice:  I did (laughs).  I was really…….oh, I really wanted it.

Theresa:  How badly did you want it?

Candice:  I was……I wanted it pretty badly.  I was like, “positive thoughts!”  You know, I was like – I had to visualize it.  I can see it!  And then it happened.  And then I was scared.

Theresa:  (Laughs) do you ever watch Oprah?

Candice:  Sometimes, yeah.

Theresa:  She did the same thing for her role in The Color Purple.

Candice:  I saw that!  I know!  And I was totally…..I was like, trying to employ that same thought pattern.  Yeah, like, visualize it.  And then, you know, it happened.

Theresa:  But no, remember when she was telling the story?  Her agent already turned her down.  They told her she didn’t get the part.  So she went to the woods and asked, “Why, why?  How can this happen?  I wanted it so bad!?!”  Remember?

Candice:  Yeah, and then they……..

Theresa:  And then Steven Spielberg himself…..

Candice:  ……called her.  Yeah.

Theresa:  I’m glad you didn’t do it in LA because they’re so competitive over there. 

Candice:  Yeah.  It is.

Theresa:  And look at you!  You’re in Houston, and first out you get an interview on Opening night. 

Candice:  I know!  It’s all very like…..I’m still am so like, super-shocked.  Like I call my mom, like, “You’re not gonna believe this!”  I don’t know.  I’m still wrapping my head around it.

Theresa:  But you know why?  Because you sang your heart out that night and you’re gonna sing your heart out tonight.  I’m so excited for you.  I can’t wait.  What did you have to do to prepare for this role?

Candice:  I went back and really listened to the music, watched a couple of documentaries, get a feel for the music.  Because you know, the Blues is like, our grandparent’s age or older.  So I really had to do that.  I looked at a lot of videos to see mannerisms of how the women back then walked and talked, how they sang.  How they walked was very upright.  Nowadays, we kinda slouch.  I did a lot of that, little things like, flushing out who I thought she would be.  Even though she has no dialogue, but you know asking questions like, “What kind of girl is she?  Who is she?”  I made a little back story, and then a lot of vocal practice.

Theresa:  Do you have a coach?  Or do you just sing a lot?

Candice:  Well, we sing a lot in practice.  And then I have my vocal warm up tape that I have to go over on my own time.  It’s a lot of singing.

Theresa:  Wow, that’s a lot of singing.  Do you play any musical instruments?

Candice:  I do, I play piano.  That really, at times, helps.

Theresa:  Do you sing while you play the piano sometimes?

Candice:  No, I never really did.  My mother didn’t even know I could sing until 2 years ago (laughs).  Yeah, she’s a musician.  I never really went out there with my singing.  I played but…….

Theresa:  What do you mean your mom never knew?

Candice:  She never knew.  I never sang to her.  I never really sang that much.

Theresa:  Is she gonna be here tonight?

Candice:  She will be here next month.

Theresa:  (Laughs).  What did she say when you told her you have the part in a musical?

Candice:  She was super excited.  She was really excited.  At times, it’s been a difficult journey because I don’t have a singing background but luckily I have a musical background, which has helped.  But I think because Jazz and Blues, the notes are so different.  The chords, they almost sound wrong, you know?  It’s beautiful but it sounds wrong so singing has been a challenge.  So being able to play the piano has really helped me to get a feel for it.  It’s definitely different than contemporary pop and R&B, not like today. 

Theresa:  Do you play the piano in the show?

Candice:  Not in the play.  I dance on one, but I don’t……(laughs)

Theresa:  Oh, you dance on the piano while singing.

Candice:  Yeah.  It’ll be fun.

Theresa:  Where did you get your musical influence?

Candice:  From my mother.  That’s definitely my mother.  She’s a musician.  She’s a classically trained pianist.  Yeah, she’s a professional musician.  I mean I grew up always hearing her.  Music has always been a part of my life. 

Theresa:  She must be so proud.

Candice:  She is.  She’s super proud.  She has really good pointers.  She is my biggest influence.  Whatever she played was what I was exposed to so you know, from Jazz, mainly classical music.  And she’s my piano teacher.  Growing up, I mainly listened to her, whatever she played every day practice.

Theresa:  What is her name?

Candice:  Jackie D’Meza.  Vocally, she sang in LA at a music center, a big concert hall.  She sings with the Albert McNeil Jubilee Singers of Los Angeles.  She sings, she taught piano, she’ll play for functions, all kinds of stuff. 

Theresa:  Where were you born?

Candice:  I was born in West Covina, California.  I grew up in that area West Covina / La Puente area.  I live in Houston now.  I’ve never been here before we decided to move here.  We just up and decided we’re moving and drove (laughs).  I found Katy on a list of best places to live for families so I was like, okay!

Theresa:  What made you decide to move to Katy, Texas from Long Beach, California?

Candice:  Well, the cost of living.  I have a family so the cost of living is what made us decide.  It’s a hard economy there.

Theresa:  Yeah, I understand that part.  My sister lives in California so I know the cost of living is very high compared to Houston. 

Candice:  It’s a much more stable economy here so I thought it would be a good place.  I wanted to act in LA. I did.  I wanted to act but you get discouraged easily because it’s LA and the competition is enormous.  You just feel like it’s a pipe dream.  I went and got my Masters in something else.  I changed my major for my Bachelors.  I started out as a theatre major then decided, no I don’t want to be a waiter so…..

Theresa:  (laughs)

Candice:  And I just gave up.  I never tried.  In LA I never tried, you know?  I didn’t audition for anything in College.  I did once.  And I never auditioned for anything again.  I didn’t get it and I got intimidated and I just gave up.  At some point, I finished my Masters and then I realized that I never tried.  I can’t tell my son to live your dreams and I never tried mine.  So I thought, let me try and sing (laughs) so here I am.

Theresa:  What would you like to say to the Houston theatre-going audience?

Candice:  I pretty much am going to echo what Mr. Harris said.  We really need to support theatre.  Being a part of this process, you realize how much work and dedication it takes.  It is truly a living art form.  You can interact with it.  It’s so different from television and film, which is what LA is all about, it is all TV-based.  But Theatre it’s more of a give and take.  We take from the audience and we give to the audience.  It’s a beautiful process and it needs to be supported so much more.  It’s really awesome.


(L-R) Roenia Thompson, Timothy Eric, Regina Renae Hearne and Candice D'Meza star in BLUES IN THE NIGHT showing at the Ensemble Theatre through July 24, 2011.  Photo courtesy of the Ensemble Theatre.