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‘Back from Black:’ New show paints full picture of colorful life of Amy Winehouse

The show tells Winehouse's story in her own sung and spoken words.

With her untimely death at the age of 27, powerhouse musician Amy Winehouse joined the ranks of brightly shining talents who explode into our hearts and minds yet were doused out way too soon.

Winehouse’s unique vocal style, raw lyrics and larger-than-life presence earned her legions of adoring fans, who to this day certainly would have wanted to hear much more.

Now, a brand-new show, “Back from Black,” at Seven Angels Theatre in Waterbury, offers Winehouse’s story in her own words, both spoken and sung. Newcomer Alexa Renée stars as Winehouse, and the show features two back-up singers and a seven-piece band. 
Winehouse was a musical phenomenon. Blunt and honest about her struggles, biting and funny in her observations, “Back from Black” takes the audience on a thrilling, celebratory, and ultimately redemptive musical journey. 

Renée said the show gives the “full picture” of Amy Winehouse.

“There’s a lot more of her released work — so much that many people might not even know about,” she said.

The show’s spoken word aspect reflects how gifted of a lyricist Winehouse was, Renée said, adding that the late songwriter was also a prolific poet. 

“I think she was lyricist first. That isn’t to say she wasn’t a great musician. She was just a prodigious writer. Her lyrics are the first thing that really speaks to people,” Renée said. 

She added that Winehouse’s music “bridges the gap of soul and R&B and pop music.”

“It really made that type of music more accessible to people,” she said. 

Renée pointed out that Winehouse was really tapped into her own feelings and emotions at a young age; that depth is reflected in her songwriting. 

What might surprise people about Winehouse, and what’s revealed in the show, is “how funny she is,” Renée said.

“You might not expect it,” she added. “The most upsetting thing to me about Amy’s story is that I think we have a tendency to only see the negatives and the bad stuff. She was a normal person. Super funny. Very energetic.” 

Another point she made is that Winehouse “loved with her whole being.”

“Her energy was much more positive than I think a lot of people (like) to think of her,” Renée said. 

The actress is hoping that energy translates on stage. 

“She was so full of love, and so passionate. She was a whole person,” Renée said. “There are two sides of the same coin: the darkness, and how brightly she burned as a human being. She felt things so intensely.”

While Renée was a fan of Winehouse before doing the show, she wasn’t a die-hard member of the singer’s devoted tribe, which continues to support her music. She said she knows there are so many of them, everywhere, in every country, who continue to pay tribute to Winehouse by dressing in her likeness and more. 

“Her music, and her story, clearly stuck with people. We hope that people come to this show to help us continue to tell it,” Renée said. 

“Amy Winehouse – Back from Black” is directed by Sarah Knapp with music direction and arrangements by Steven M. Alper. It will be performed May 5-22 at Seven Angels Theatre in Waterbury. 

Tickets are $50 and can be purchased at, by calling 203-757-4676, or at the box office. Evening shows are at 8 p.m. and matiness are at 2 p.m.  Groups and tours are welcome. 

The theatre is located on Plank Road in Waterbury, Conn., with plenty of free parking.