Black and Blues

As Barack Obama bids for a room in the White House, it's hard to imagine that less than fifty years ago, blacks couldn't even stay in the Sahara Hotel in Las Vegas. Legendary African-American blues singer Dinah Washington had something to say about that little fact in 1959: Instead of settling quietly into her back-door Jim Crow trailer, Washington — the first black woman ever to perform in Vegas — staged a diva-style sit-in in the Sahara lobby.

In Oliver Goldstick's Dinah Was, this wonderfully heated moment on the road serves as a catalyst for exploring the life of the talented, stubborn and ultimately self-destructive "Queen of the Blues." A series of vignettes weaves together a musically fueled montage of Washington's life. "It's one of the few plays I've seen like this that flows so beautifully," says director Jeffrey Nickelson. "Normally, a play like this feels like it's all over the place, but it moves in a relatively linear way considering that it's non-linear in representation."

Today at 3 p.m. at Shadow Theatre Company, 1468 Dayton Street in Aurora, watch as Washington overcomes personal and political struggles, including a domineering and jealous Baptist mother, seven marriages and divisive prejudice. "This is a powerfully entertaining and educational story that reflects our history in an accurate form," says Nickelson.

Tickets are $25; the show runs Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 7 p.m. and Sundays at 3 p.m. through May 24. For information, call 720-857-8000 or visit
Thursdays-Saturdays, 7:30 p.m.; Sundays, 3 p.m. Starts: April 24. Continues through May 24, 2008


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