On the Scene: The life story, music of late artist Nina Simone hits the New York stage
The life story and music of the late artist Nina Simone is playing out on a New York stage, and when Laiona Michelle steps into the role of Simone, she says it is sometimes as if she's looking in the mirror.
During a hard time in her career, Michelle began writing "Little Girl Blue", which is named after Simone's acclaimed debut album.
“I came out of graduate school a classically trained actress and I was not getting satisfying work, and so my agent at the time got fed up with me and said you keep complaining why don't you just write your own material,” says Michelle. “Do it yourself, and so I did."
Just like the icon she portrays, who suffered career setbacks, Michelle set her sights on the stage, through songs made famous by Simone, and dialogue.
She brings the music legend's battles with mental illness and relationships, and her civil rights activism, to the audience as if they are watching Simone in a 1960s nightclub.
“I took facts from her life and then used my imagination and dig deeper,” says Michelle. “What must she have felt like, how was this for her, what did she feel?”
"Little Girl Blue" is running off-Broadway at New World Stages through at least May 22.