Play about 'Blind' Boone comes to The Blue Note

Thursday, May 20, 2010 | 6:17 p.m. CDT; updated 9:47 a.m. CDT, Friday, May 21, 2010

COLUMBIA —The story of ragtime pioneer John William "Blind" Boone will come to life at 6:30 p.m. Friday at The Blue Note.

The performance "Nobody Plays Like Boone," written by playwright Mary Barile, will be a reader's theater production with material drawn from primary historical sources such as personal letters, newspaper stories and period plays.

If you go

What: MoHiP presents "Nobody Plays Like Boone"

When: 6:30 to 8 p.m. Friday; doors open at 6 p.m.

Where: The Blue Note, 17 N. Ninth St.

Tickets: $5 at the door

Barile is the director of the Missouri History in Performance Theatre program, which is sponsored by the State Historical Society of Missouri.

Six performers will read 20 roles. The production will also include recordings of Boone's music as performed by Frank Townsell and John Davis.

"Blind Boone had as much of an influence on the development of uniquely American music forms as any other single performer in the 19th century," said Kevin Walsh, a member of the program committee of the State Historical Society.

"You can trace many elements of ragtime, gospel, soul and jazz directly to his music," he said.

Blind from early childhood, Boone was renowned for his ability to play almost any piece of music, on any instrument, after hearing it only once. At age 15, he teamed up with John Lange of Columbia and began touring the country. Boone was the first performer to bring African-American spiritual music to the stage.

Although he was successful and internationally recognized in his lifetime, Boone was largely forgotten after his death in 1927. His influence on contemporary music has only recently begun to be recognized.

Proceeds from the performance will be used to fund future Missouri History in Performance Theatre program productions.

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