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PREVIEW: Nina Simone: Four Women Returns to Park Square

Photo by Petronella J. Ytsma.

Nina Simone: Four Women, which made more than one critic’s Top 10 list for 2016, is returning for a limited engagement at Park Square Theater from February 7 through February 26.  Christina Ham’s play “transcends a simple biopic setup into a well-crafted dialogue between women of the Civil Rights Era.” Pamela Espeland of MinnPost called it “an exceptional night of theater.”

This production is directed by Faye M. Price, and features most of the original cast returning in the same roles. Regina Marie Williams returns in the title role (originally fresh from Sister Act at Chanhassen, now winter fresh from A Christmas Carol at the Guthrie), as do Aimee Bryant and Traci Allen Shannon. Jamila Anderson takes over the role of Saffronia, which Thomasina Petrus originated in last year’s production.

The play centers on a fictionalized meeting between singer Nina Simone and three other women who all meet at the bombed out remains of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama.  The church was the scene of a bombing where four young girls were killed in the explosion just before church services.  As a “play with music,” highlights of the show include performances with several of Nina Simone’s songs, including the showstopping “Mississippi Goddam”, which Simone wrote in response to the girls’ horrific murders.

Nina Simone: Four Women opens Feb. 10 at Park Square Theatre in St. Paul, MN on the Andy Boss Thrust Stage, and plays through Feb. 26. [Update: The run of Nina Simone has been extended to Mar. 6.] Tickets are available for previews Feb. 7-9.

Bev Wolfe