Play by Dalt Wonk, Music by Charles Neville, 2001
Shangri-La is based on a real nightclub, the Dew Drop Inn. The Dew Drop was the happening place for Black musicians in the segregated New Orleans of the 1950’s and before.
Charles Neville, saxophone player for the famous Neville Brothers Band, got his start there. The New Orleans Jazz Fest gave Charles a grant to celebrate the place. Neville asked Dalt Wonk to write the script.
Shangri-La, a mythical version of the Dew Drop, premiered at the Contemporary Arts Center and played for a year in music clubs around town — Tipitina’s, Mason’s Las Vegas Strip and the Blues Saloon among others.
Fern, a young singer, is set to make her debut as a soloist — but her former partner, who’s been in jail, arrives at the club demanding that they restart the duo (in which he stars, of course). Through many ups and downs, — involving colorful characters like Hot Mama and Bug Juice — Fern struggles to free herself and launch her own career. There is much laughter and irresistible Rhythm & Blues.