Jay Allen Sanford 11 a.m., Sept. 20
The great Nina Simone backed into her storied career as "The High Priestess of Soul" and the "Voice of the Movement." As a child, she dreamed of becoming the world's first black classical pianist. Events, like the KKK bombing of an Alabama church and the murder of African-American leaders, politicized her - she would be "nonviolent no more" - and her music (including the explosive "Mississippi Goddamn," which was banned throughout the South). Calvin Manson, who has staged tributes to Billie, Ella, and others, created a show with four women representing Simone (an irony: she wrote a song about "Four Women," each a black stereotype; whereas Manson's quartet defies stereotyping). The evening includes favorites: "I Loves You, Porgy," "Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood," and the anthem of the Movement, "To Be Young, Gifted, and Black," sung with flair by Janice Edwards and with grace and subtlety by Ayanna Hobson (Sarah Roy and Nicole Bradley also make solid contributions, as do four young dancers and pianist Anthon Smith, who gives songs classy Julliard licks). The show needs tightening, especially Act 2, which packs too many numbers and at times becomes too subdued. Overall, the world premiere's a fitting showcase for the woman who became "every woman I could." Dinner-theater packages are available.
Worth a Try.
When: Ongoing until Sunday, May 23, 2010
- Sundays, 4pm
- Fridays, 8pm
- Saturdays, 8pm