Nina Simone, one of the most extraordinary musical artists of the twentieth century, is having her story told now at Theatrical Outfit.
“Simply Simone,” which opens on March 23 and runs through April 15, is part biography, part music revue, and it takes a unique approach to telling the story of both her public and inner life.
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The show includes performances of 30 songs from Simone’s catalog, and has not one, but four women cast as the singer, playing Simone at different points in her life.
“Nina One, the early part of Nina as a child may have an issue, but Nina Three may have the answer,” director Patdro Harris explained to City Lights host Lois Reitzes. “It’s a beautiful way to tell the story.”
“You see her struggles, you see where she has come to as a person, as an American,” says actor Marliss Amiea, who plays the oldest Nina, “and her relationship with the country and with music.”
Simone grew up poor in rural Alabama and rose to prominence during the Civil Rights Movement. She was an activist and some of her songs, including the unapologetically angry “Mississippi Goddam,” became anthems of the movement.
“I wish the things that Nina Simone had said years ago could be part of our encyclopedia,” says Harris, “but it’s still part of our everyday affairs.”