Christina Ham’s play, “Nina Simone: Four Women,” which sold out its premiere a Park Square Theatre a year ago and is completing a second sold-out run at the St. Paul playhouse this weekend, will have another life.
Washington, D.C.’s Arena Stage has announced that it will do a fall production of the Minneapolis playwright’s work.
It's quite a coup -- rarely does a show start at a midsize Twin Cities theater before getting productions elsewhere.
“It’s exciting to have a play start in the Twin Cities and then go to the coasts,” Ham said by phone Thursday morning from California, where she is visiting family. “I’d still be thrilled even if I didn’t write it.”
“Nina Simone” is centered on the singer and civil rights activist as she tries to compose a song, “Mississippi Goddam,” in the ruins of a Birmingham church that was bombed by white supremacists on Sept. 15, 1963. The play is set the day after that terror attack killed four little girls from a Sunday school class.
The show, which is infused with Simone’s music, starred Regina Marie Williams in the title role.
Timothy Douglas will direct the D.C. production. There is no word on who he might cast, but Williams is presumably unavailable because the production would conflict with another big commitment -- reprising her headlining role in “Sister Act” at Chanhassen Dinner Theatres.
The other actors in the two Twin Cities productions of "Nina" include Aimee K. Bryant, Traci Allen Shannon, Thomasina Petrus and Jamila Anderson (who replaced Petrus in this winter's restaging). Faye Price directed both runs and Sanford Moore has served as music director and pianist for both.
“It’s all so surreal and exciting,” Ham said. “My father’s family is from D.C., so it means even more to bring this play out there.”