By Sandi Durell
Micki Grant is the writer/composer/actress responsible for Don’t Bother Me, I Can’t Cope, the original incarnation a hit revue in 1972, as conceived by Vinnette Carroll, who eventually became the first African-American woman director on Broadway, where it played over 1000 performances at the Edison Theater until October 27,1974. Grant remained a part of the show, which garnered her a Grammy for Best Score (the first female bestowed with that honor), the show received 5 Tony Nominations as well as an Outer Critics Circle Award, Drama Desk and Obie nominations. It is now part of the Musicals in Mufti series at the York Theatre thru March 6th.
The revue features a plethora of musical styles, with little spoken dialogue, that includes gospel, soft rock, blues, jazz and calypso. Its message and agenda is still loud and clear addressing the history and socio-politics of the great divide between blacks and whites in this country. Songs like “I Gotta Keep Movin’,” (featuring Devin L. Roberts – a beautiful body in exquisite motion),“Lookin’ Over from Your Side” (Raun Ruffin) and “Ghetto Life,” all filled with lyrics that tell a story that may sound like you’ve heard this one before, but soon realize the story is vital, real and today.
A pulsating “They Keep Coming” speaks about the freedom seekers, those who fight for the cause; “My Name is Man” (poignantly sung by Jelani Alladin) talks of fighting and dying for my right to live like a man.
There are love songs “Thank Heaven for You”(Marva Hicks and Raun Ruffin), and “Questions” (sung by Darilyn Castillo) – mother taught me to turn the other cheek – and statements “It Takes a Whole Lot of Human Feeling” (to be a human being) – powerfully sung by Tina Fabrique and Darilyn Castillo.
And there’s hope – – “Good Vibrations,” (Doug Eskew and the ensemble).
This is an A-1 ensemble that includes Debra Walton (Storyville, Broadway: The Pajama Game) directed by Leslie Dockery, with music direction by William Foster McDaniel (piano, conductor) with Clyde Bullard on bass and Napoleon Revels-Bey on drums.
Don’t Bother Me, I Can’t Cope continues in Mufti at The York Theatre Company thru March 6th at St. Peter’s (Lexington Ave/54th Street) 212 935-5820 www.yorktheatre.org
Photos: Ben Strothmann