Northern Illinois University

NIU Office of Public Affairs

News Release

Contacts: Robert Schneider, NIU School of Theatre and Dance
(815) 753-8263

David Booth, NIU School of Theatre and Dance
(815) 753-1337

January 18, 2007

NIU student theater production company The Third Onion premiers new play

DeKalb — The Northern Illinois University School of Theatre and Dance student production company, The Third Onion, presents "Ain’t Nobody’s Business if I Do," a world premiere of Danielle White’s bio-play celebrating the indomitable spirit of singer Bessie Smith, Jan. 25 and 26, in the Stevens Building Corner Theatre on the NIU campus.

"Ain’t Nobody’s Business if I Do" is the inspiring story of one of America’s great jazz singers.

Born in poverty and an orphan by the age of 9, she rose to stardom by dint of sheer talent and determination. A consummate musician, at one point the highest-paid black entertainer of her day, she was nevertheless marginalized by the racist society of the 1920s and '30s. She died in a segregated Mississippi hospital after being injured in a car accident; a whites-only hospital was considerably closer to the scene of the accident. 

Of her work, White says, “This story is not about the depiction of someone famous. This story is about someone. Bessie Smith loved with her whole heart and never regretted that love. She was able to push her talent forward and sing what was in her heart ... this woman was the blues.”

The play features all-student cast, designers and technical crew, including the author in the role of Bessie Smith, Jonathan McFarlane as Jack Gee, Antoinette Dyamond Moore as Ruby and Eric Loughlin as the Piano Man. Choreography is by Shakila Grigler and the author. Lighting is designed by Alex Kyle and costumes are designed by White.

White’s tribute to this landmark performer will perform two days only at 10:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 25, and Friday, Jan. 26. Tickets are $3, available only at the door. More information is available by contacting Robert Schneider at the School of Theatre and Dance at (815) 753-8263.