Picking up where the “Blueberry Hill” story left off last fall, the jukebox musical “Ain’t Got No Home” premieres this weekend at Teatro Wego in Westwego.
Sponsored by the Jefferson Performing Arts Society, “Ain’t Got No Home” will feature 18 indigenous New Orleans songs that tie in with a story line written and directed by Kenner’s Butch Caire. Caire also stars in the lead role as Cosimo, owner of the fictitious Blueberry Hill Bar & Grill.
The production will be staged in Westwego from Jan. 16-Feb. 1 and in Covington from Feb. 6-8. Friday and Saturday shows in both locations will start at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday matinees will be at 3 p.m.
This sequel to “Blueberry Hill,” which premiered in September 2013 and reprised this past September, is set in November 2005, two months after Hurricane Katrina. As Caire explained, the bar took on 4 feet of water and sustained some damage but still is salvageable.
He and his head bartender, Donald (played by Donald Lewis) rode out the storm in the apartment above the bar.
“We had a lot of destruction and needed to clean up as best we could so the city would allow us to reopen and get back in business,” Caire said.
Returning from the cast of “Blueberry Hill” are the two barmaids, April (April Louise) and Allee (Allee Peck). April is pregnant and sleeping on the couch formerly occupied by Allee. Donald and his girlfriend, Josephine (Adella Gautier) are staying upstairs in the apartment and Cosimo is sleeping in the room vacated by his recently married son, Johnny. Gautier, a popular local actor, is also known as “Adella Adella the Storyteller.”
Rounding out the cast is Troi Bechet as Josie, Cosimo’s former girlfriend and the mother of Johnny’s wife, Claudia. Johnny and Claudia, whose relationship dominated much of the action in “Blueberry Hill,” are not in this production.
However, the young couple, who moved to Washington, D.C., after their wedding, are reported to be on their way back to New Orleans and could be in the next installment if there is one, Caire hinted.
“Certainly we could add another chapter, because with what happens in this one, it kind of opens the door for something else to happen down the line,” Caire said.
Songs to be featured include the original 1952 version of “My Ding-a-Ling” by Dave Barthelomew, plus three songs by Aaron Neville, including “Tell It Like It Is.”
There also are three songs by Ernie K-Doe, two by Irma Thomas, Barbara George’s “I Know,” Jessie Hill’s “Ooh Poo Pah Doo,” Dr. John’s “Right Place, Wrong Time” and about half a dozen others.
Pianist Karl Harrod leads the five-piece band.
In this installment, the action centers more around the two barmaids, Caire explained. “In the original they were basically the backup singers because all of these songs had backup singer parts. What happened was, I had such good people in the roles that I decided to expand their roles a little bit to give them all solos. So now they move more of the action than I originally conceived and it works very well.”