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Little Girl Blue: The Nina Simone Musical Open at George Street Playhouse
Little Girl Blue: The Nina Simone Musical premieres at The George Street Playhouse
By: Laiona Michelle
Ms. Michelle returns to The George Street Playhouse following her critically acclaimed performance almost a year ago, in Christopher Demos-Brown's American Hero, of which one critic wrote, "Her performance gives the word 'intense'a new meaning. She doesn't so much steal every scene she's in, but hijacks them, making it difficult to look away."
Ms. Michelle marks her debut as a writer with Little Girl Blue. "This is my passion project," she said in a recent interview, about the musical she has been developing for more than five years. After teaming with director Devanand Janki, and musical director Mark Fifer last year, the production quickly accelerated, and after a few workshops, was scooped up by The George Street Playhouse.
Little Girl Blue is structured in two acts. The story focuses on a ten-year period between 1968 and 1978 and is staged during two concerts. Ms. Michelle shows the evolution of the woman who began life as a child prodigy, able to discern musical notes as an infant, but who was denied an opportunity to follow her aspirations of becoming a classically trained concert pianist, by a system that considered the color of her skin above her musical genius. Nina felt herself re-directed - forced if you will – to become something she had never intended for herself – a jazz/blues singer, though she identified herself more as a folk singer – she never quite got over the disappointment of having her dreams dashed.
While Nina ascended within the Jazz/Blues community and was acknowledged as the High Priestess of Soul, her love of the classics, in particular, Johann Sebastian Bach never waned, and if you listen to her music carefully, you can hear the influence of the classics in her approach. Ms. Michelle adds that what so many simply dismissed as the "Angry Black Woman" syndrome that she was saddled with – was actually Nina's way of rebelling against the restrictive walls of racism.
Laiona Michelle hopes audiences gain a new appreciation for the life of this immensely gifted musician and master pianist. Nina was a defiant force of nature who spoke out against injustice. She became an ardent admirer of Dr. Martin Luther King and joined his quest for civil rights, risking life and career. "And isn't it auspicious that there is a resurgence of interest in Nina at this time in our political lives," says Ms. Michelle, who points to her recent induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame last year, and to the acclaimed Netflix documentary, which introduced a young, new audience to the legacy of this warrior woman – this powerful and influential musician, who battled depression and personal demons, as intensely as she battled injustice.
Using Nina's own words, and the music that has come to define her, Laiona Michelle breathes life into Nina and gives her a platform from which to speak her truth. Little Girl Blue: The Nina Simone Musical officially opens on Friday, February 1 and will run through February 24.
Tickets are available by going to The George Street Playhouse (https://tickets.georgestplayhouse.org/
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