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.
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.
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