Margo Hall’s Be Bop Baby

Detroit has long had an image problem. Violent crime, urban decay and bankruptcy are what make headlines. Margo Hall’s Be Bop Baby: A Musical Memoir remembers when it was still a magical place called Motown. web_margo_400_265_c1

In the show, Margo has returned to the home she grew up in with her mother and step-father, the musician Teddy Harris. While searching for the music of Teddy’s last composition, she’s surprised to find her birth father living in the house because he “needed a place to stay.” The play centers on how Margo comes to terms with her past as the “be bop baby” of two fathers.

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Marcus Shelby conducts his fifteen piece big band from the stage as Teddy Harris. The score has elements of be bop jazz but encompasses American popular music, including a tribute to Motown greats Holland-Dozier-Holland. The original songs by Shelby and Hall are the highlights of the show. Mujahid Abdul-Rashid, who plays Father, has a rich baritone in the Billy Eckstine mode. “Midnight Lullaby,” sung by Margot, is an especially tender ballad about a child’s fear of the urban night.

Be Bop Baby: A Musical Memoir plays at Z-Space in San Francisco through 11/23/13.

Cover design by Ulla Havenga

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