George Street Playhouse's 2018-19 five-play mainstage season features a Tony Award-nominated play, a Laurents/Hatcher Foundation Award winner set during the early days of the Civil Rights movement, a suspenseful courtroom drama, a heartwarming story of arriving in a strange land for the first time, and the world premiere of a new musical. Learn More
Laiona Michelle: Broadway: Nanna in Amazing Grace, the First National Tour of The Book of Mormon. Laiona has performed both regionally and internationally, most recently playing Mrs. Shears in The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime. Her TV/film credits include: Crashing, Sneaky Pete, The Blacklist, Law & Order: CI and SVU, All My Children and Lift. Awards include: recipient, NAACP for Constant Star; nominated, Helen Hayes 2005 Best Lead Actress in Yellowman at Arena Stage. M.F.A., Brandeis University. Love and respect to all those who served our country with dignity.
Music & LyricsNina Simone
Music & Lyrics
“Nina could sing anything, period,” Mary J. Blige told Rolling Stone when the magazine named Nina Simone one of the 100 Greatest Singers of All Time. And in some ways, that astonishing, unclassifiable range has made it especially difficult to assess Simone’s legacy – often considered a jazz singer (particularly because of her masterful piano playing), she was classically trained, yet her nickname was “The High Priestess of Soul.”
If anything, she claimed that she was a folk singer, and her dazzling repertoire – Israeli folk tunes, compositions by Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill, songs by the Bee Gees and Leonard Cohen and George Harrison, traditional ballads, spirituals, children’s songs – remains unparalleled.
Simone’s music provided the true soundtrack to the civil rights movement, and her inspiration as an artist and an activist has been celebrated by Lauryn Hill, Kanye West (who has frequently sampled her work), John Legend, Common, and Alicia Keys, who once wrote that “she made me want to live life, learn and experience it earnestly and use my voice to say SOMETHING!”
Simone’s groundbreaking compositions like “Mississippi Goddam” and “Four Women” defined a songwriting voice that was proudly, defiantly black and female. Her radical rearrangements of other songs have been covered by everyone from George Michael to the Animals, Whitney Houston to Jeff Buckley. An icon whose tortured life was the subject of an Oscar-nominated documentary, Nina Simone was a unique creative force. “She was an overwhelming artist, piano player, and singer,” said Bob Dylan. “Very outspoken and dynamite to see perform…the kind of artist that I loved and admired.”
(Bio and photo: Rock and Roll Hall of Fame)
Following her critically acclaimed performance in American Hero, Laiona Michelle returns to George Street Playhouse to play Nina Simone in a new musical. This exuberant premiere musical reveals a life in between the black and white keys—a passionate journey from classical piano child prodigy to the High Priestess of Soul, told through the words and music of American icon Nina Simone.
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