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Little Girl Blue: The Nina Simone Musical

January 29 — February 24, 2019

January 29 — February 24, 2019

Writer/Performer
Laiona Michelle

Laiona Michelle

Writer/Performer

Laiona Michelle (Writer/Nina Simone), a native of Springfield, MA, made her Broadway debut in the principal role of Nanna in Amazing Grace, upon following her performance in the First National Tour: The Book of Mormon. With Little Girl Blue — The Nina Simone Musical, she makes her debut as a writer. Whether playing Dinah Washington in the musical production about the iconic singer’s life (Dinah Was); Calpurnia in a regional Shakespeare production (Julius Ceasar); or as a veteran of the Afghanistan war in the George Street Playhouse production of  Christopher Demos-Brown’s American Hero, Laiona approaches every role  with power and conviction. Awards include: Independent Reviewers of New England, Best Lead Actress award (2001, Stonewall Jackson’s House); Barrymore and Carbonell Awards (2004, Constant Star), The NAACP Hollywood award (2005, Constant Star). Some of her regional credits include: Arena Stage, Colorado Shakespeare Festival, Alabama Shakespeare Festival, The Woolly Mammoth Theatre, Goodspeed Theatre Company, Westport Country Playhouse and many more. Television:  Lift, All My Children, Law & Order: SVU, Law & Order: Criminal Intent, The Blacklist, and Crashing, as well as Amazon’s Sneaky Pete. Special thanks to The George Street Playhouse, The Karma Foundation and Live & In Color. "You've got to learn to leave the table when love's no longer being served." Nina Simone

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Music & Lyrics
Nina Simone

Nina 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)

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Director
Devanand Janki

Devanand Janki

Director

Devanand Janki is an award winning Director-Choreographer based in New York City.  His credits include, Off-B’way: Zanna, Don’t! (Winner Lortel, Callaway and GLAAD Awards), Junie B. Jones (Lortel nom.), Henry and Mudge (Lortel nom.), The Yellow Brick Road (Callaway nom.), Skippyjon Jones (Lortel Nom.), This One Girl’s Story, Cupid and Psyche, Love and Real Estate and Romantic Poetry (MTC). The All Star Broadway concerts for the Actors Fund: Hair, Funny Girl, Dreamgirls (Assoc.) and Seth Rudestky’s Broadway 101. Lincoln Center: Amahl and the Night Visitors, Babes in Toyland and Anything Goes in concert (Choreo. Assist.); 9 years as Artistic Assoc. for BC/EFA’s Broadway Bares. Regional Theatre: The Wings of Ikarus Jackson , Barrio Grrrl! (Kennedy Center), Rent, Xanadu, Rocky Horror Show (Hangar Theatre) Disney’s Aladdin (Chicago Shakespeare), Asphalt Beach, The Full Monty, The Scarlet Pimpernel, Man of La Mancha. TYA tours: Martha Speaks, Nate the Great, If You Give a Pig Pancake, The Berenstain Bears. As a performer Dev has appeared on Broadway in Cats, Miss Saigon, The King and I and Side Show and tours of West Side Story and A Chorus Line. He is the Artistic Director of Live & In Color, which develops new plays and musicals that celebrate diversity. TheatreInColor.org

 

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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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"Michelle’s singing voice is gorgeous and her stage presence magnanimous" - The Star-Ledger

"This insightful portrait of Nina Simone...will mesmerize you. The musical is wonderfully crafted and beautifully performed." - Broadway World

Photos by T. Charles Erickson

Design Team Bios

Watch the official trailer!

Listen to Laiona Michelle talk with Gary Walker for WBGO

 

Little Girl Blue - The Nina Simone Musical is sponsored by The Karma Foundation.

 

 

The backdrop for Little Girl Blue- The Nina Simone Musical was created by staff artists in George Street Playhouse's own local scene shop with the support of The Merrill G. and Emita E. Hastings Foundation. 
 

"Michelle’s performance as Simone is at once captivating and haunting."

The Star-Ledger

"This show is a sure fire hit!"

Broadway World

"Simone's life and legacy has now been gifted with a terrific stage play....This is Michelle's debut as a writer. She has a winner."

Curtain Up

"an artistic triumph"

OUT in Jersey

"'Little Girl Blue' is well worth a visit to George Street Playhouse"

TAPInto

"a superb production"

Let's Go to the Theater

"emotionally electric and very appealing."

History News Network

Miss Simone would be proud.

New Jersey Stage

amazing....emotionally stirring....near genius.

Scene on Stage

"The set design...creates a sense of show-biz elegance with its...stunning backdrop"

NJArts

a brilliant ride

Q on Stage

beautiful and powerful

New Jersey Hills

"[a] tour de force"

Says Me Says Mom

Press
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With Her 'Shakespearean' Little Girl Blue, Laiona Michelle Keeps Nina Simone’s Torch Burning

Ever since the High Priestess of Soul was called home to join the ancestors in 2003, her legacy has endured throughout pop culture. And that’s a good thing. Just ask Laiona Michelle—who wrote and stars in the new show, Little Girl Blue: The Nina Simone Musical.... Learn More

Laiona Michelle Sparkles as Nina Simone in GSP's "Little Girl Blue"

Nina Simone was a cultural icon who used her creativity to attract a worldwide audience and spread a message of social and personal injustice and racial inequality. Learn More

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"Little Girl Blue: The Nina Simone Musical" Premieres at George Street Playhouse

Join Jesse and Dave as they talk with the creators of this new musical, which depicts Simone’s passionate journey from classical piano child prodigy to the High Priestess of Soul. Learn More

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World premiere of 'Little Girl Blue,' a tribute to Nina Simone, opens at George Street

Actress/singer Laiona Michelle grew up listening to her mother's Nina Simone records, to songs like "I Love You, Porgy," and she remembers feeling drawn to the singer's rich tone and unique stylings. Learn More

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Little Girl Blue: The Nina Simone Musical Begins World-Premiere Run

The world premiere of Laiona Michelle's Little Girl Blue: The Nina Simone Musical begins performances tonight at George Street Playhouse, running through February 24, with opening night set for February 1. Learn More

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Nina Simone is misunderstood musical freedom fighter at George Street Playhouse

An outspoken freedom fighter battling bipolar disorder, the ingenious jazz and R&B vocalist-pianist Nina Simone is known to have been difficult to work and live with, but it is with relative ease that the biographical “Little Girl Blue: The Nina Simone Musical” was produced, creators said. Learn More

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Laiona Michelle writes and stars in new Nina Simone play, ‘Little Girl Blue’

The award-winning actress, singer and writer Laiona Michelle, who has appeared in popular TV shows such as “The Blacklist” (2013) and “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit,” also shines as a theater powerhouse.... Learn More

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Top 10 NJ Arts Events of the Week: ‘Little Girl Blue: The Nina Simone Musical,’ The Seldom Scene, more

"Little Girl Blue — The Nina Simone Musical,” which explores the life and music of the iconic singer (and 2018 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee), begins previews at the George Street Playhouse on Jan. 29.... Learn More

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BWW Interview: Director/Choreographer Devanand Janki and LITTLE GIRL BLUE-THE NINA SIMONE MUSICAL at George Street Playhouse

This production takes the stage under the vision of Director/Choreographer Devanand Janki, an award winning director and choreographer based in New York City. Learn More

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Laiona Michelle Talks About "Little Girl Blue: The Nina Simone Musical"

This might be the right time for Nina Simone—15 years after her death. That’s what Laiona Michelle thinks, and, in a way, Michelle will be testing that idea by bringing the singer-activist to life in a world-premiere musical show at George Street Playhouse. Learn More

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Inside Rehearsals for The World Premiere of Little Girl Blue: The Nina Simone Musical

Little Girl Blue: The Nina Simone Musical, written by and starring Laiona Michelle, is set to begin performances at the George Street Playhouse in New Brunswick, New Jersey January 29. The production, directed by Devanand Janki, is scheduled to run through February 24. Learn More

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Devanand Janki Talks to iCRV Radio

Another production that was workshopped in CT goes to bigger things. Director Devanand Janki talks to iCRV Radio. Learn More

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World Premiere LITTLE GIRL BLUE - THE NINA SIMONE MUSICAL Comes to George Street Playhouse

Written by Laiona Michelle (Broadway's Amazing Grace), also starring as Nina Simone in a passionate breakout role, this exuberant premiere musical reveals a life in-between the black and white keys, a journey from classical piano child prodigy to the High Priestess of Soul, told through the beloved songs of Nina Simone. Learn More

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George Street Playhouse announces 2018-19 season

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