shida

At “Shida” Opening Night: Claybourne Elder, Karen Ziemba, Andy Sandberg (director), Jeanette Bayardelle (Shida), Sasha Allen (Photo by Tyrone Rasheed)

*Not since Whoopi Goldberg’s raw and in your face hit one-woman show “The Spook Show” have I been more enthralled with another woman portraying inspirational multiple different roles as Broadway veteran and gospel singer Jeannette Bayardelle starring as Shida in the Off-Broadway smashing summer hit at Ars Nova, 511 West 54th Street, NYC.  And like “The Spook Show,” Shida will catapult Bayardelle to stardom.

Ironically, Bayardelle seems to be shadowing Goldberg’s meritorious rise to fame having also appeared in “The Color Purple,” in which she received the NAACP Theater Award for Best Lead Actress in a Musical for her award-winning performance as “Celie.”  Bayardelle, who also played Dionne in the Tony Award winning revival of “Hair” on Broadway, is a quadruple threat in this original musical she created, wrote lyrics and music for and even stars in that officially opened on Wednesday, July 31, 2013 for a limited engagement through Wednesday, August 28, 2013.

 Shida is based on the true story of a young African American girl who aspires to become a writer, tracing the ups and downs of her family, friendships, and love life–from the double-dutch court at St. Mary’s Catholic School in the Bronx to a scholarship at NYU.  Her dreams become sidetracked by hardship and loss until her faith and those closest to her combine to restore her hope and give her a second chance.

Movingly directed by Andy Sandberg, whose tender direction dared Bayardelle to reach deep into the bowels of her soul.  She did not back down from the challenge and delivered captivating narratives that took you on a non-stop roller coaster ride about life’s ups and downs — from sexual abuse to death.  You don’t have to be a Black woman to experience all of the nuances of the cleverly written play – but it wouldn’t hurt.

The one-woman tour-de-force features a soulfully infectious score of rock, jazz, R&B, and gospel music that was an excellent fit for Bayardelle’s vast voice — void of filters.  Songs included “Let My Light Shine,” “Double-Dutch,” “My Baby,” “What Kind of God,” “Heaven and Back,” “In My Heart,” “Overdose,” “Shida Intervention,” “Rehab,” and “Inside of Me/New Life.”

In addition to starring as Celie in “The Color Purple,” Jeanette Bayardelle played Dionne in the Tony Award winning revival of “Hair” on Broadway, and she has performed Off-Broadway and at A.R.T. in Diane Paulus’ “The Best of Both Worlds.”  Her national and international theatre credits include “The Color Purple,” Deaf West’s “Big River,” “Rent,” and “Sister Act.”  Her voice is featured in the Disney film “The Little Mermaid III.  Her albums include “I Know Who I Am,” “Praise Report” and “Transferable.”

Andy Sandberg directed the critically-acclaimed world premiere of Alan Brody’s play “Operation Epsilon” (nominated for a 2013 Elliot Norton Award) at Central Square Theater in Cambridge, MA, and he directed the premiere of the musical “The Last Smoker in America” Off-Broadway.  Additional NY directing credits include “Zelda at the Oasis” (St. Luke’s), “R.R.R.E.D.” (NYMF), “Bernice Bobs Her Mullet” (NYMF), and he has assisted legendary director Hal Prince on the Broadway production of “Lovemusik” (SDC Fellowship).  He received a Tony Award as a producer of the revival of “Hair” and was also a producer of last season’s Tony-nominated revival of “The Best Man” on Broadway.  In London, he produced the world-premiere of the musical “Paradise Found,” co-directed by Hal Prince and Susan Stroman at Menier Chocolate Factory.

The creative team behind Shida consists of Charlie Corcoran (scenic design), Grant Yeager (lighting design), Michael McDonald (costume design), David Sanderson (sound design), Jesse Vargas (musical direction), Larry Lelli (music supervisor) and Clay Bogan III (arrangements).  Alexander Orbovich is general manager for Shida and Cherine Anderson handles audience outreach and marketing with Sam Rudy Media Relations handling publicity.

Shida is presented Off-Broadway by Shida Productions LLC, in association with Flora Major, Gary Goddard Entertainment, Brian Wagner/Adam Lederer, and Whitney Hoagland Edwards as an Ars Nova Summer Fling, which provides independent productions with subsidized performance space and production support to help artists from the Ars Nova community bring their creative vision to life on Ars Nova’s celebrated stage.

Shida performs Mondays at 7pm, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays at 8pm, Fridays at 5 and 8 pm and Saturdays at 3 and 8 pm.  Shida will perform added matinees at 3 pm on Wednesdays August 21 and 28 and a 10pm performance on August 26, 2013.  Shida‘s running time is 70 minutes (no intermission).  Tickets are $25 and $40.  Follow Shida online: Facebook.com/ShidaTheMusical; Twitter: @ShidaTheMusical.  www.ShidaTheMusical.com.

dee dee bridgewater

Dee Dee Bridgewater to star as Billie Holiday in celebrated musical ‘Lady Day.’

*Tony and multiple Grammy Award-winner Dee Dee Bridgewater will star as one of the world’s incomparable and legendary jazz artists — Billie Holiday, in the celebrated musical Lady Day opening Thursday, October 3, 2013 at Times Square’s Little Shubert Theatre (422 West 42nd Street, between 9th and 10th Avenues).  Written and directed by Stephen Stahl, the musical will make its New York debut having been produced at the Theatre de Boulogne-Billancourt and Theatre du Gymnase Marie Bell in Paris as well as The Donmar Warehouse and The Piccadilly Theatre in London, where it received critical praise and garnered an Olivier “Best Actress in a Musical” Award nomination for Bridgewater.   Produced by Misty Road Productions the show’s creative team also includes three-time Emmy Award winning composer & arranger Bill Jolly, who will serve as musical director.  Preview performances are slated to begin Thursday, September 19,2013.

The original play with music on the life of Billie Holiday, Lady Day features a cavalcade of Holiday hit songs and tells the inspired and heart-wrenching story of how Billie attempts a final comeback performance.  With a newly revised book by Stahl, Lady Day brings the essence and spirit of the late, great Billie Holiday to the stage.  Told through onstage triumphs and backstage personal trials, the production features over twenty-five standards including: “Don’t Explain,” “Good Morning Heartache,” “A Foggy Day (In London Town),” “Them There Eyes,” “Strange Fruit,” “My Man,” “God Bless the Child,” and “Mean to Me.”

“It’s a life-long dream to bring this show to New York, and I am so pleased that it’s finally going to happen,” stated Stahl.  “Twenty-five years has given me many new perspectives of life-challenges and I am honored for this opportunity to incorporate some of my personal observations into the new ‘Lady Day’ script.”  Stahl became an honoree of Des Auteurs et Compositeurs in France for the Paris production.

Dee Dee Bridgewater has received nine Grammy Award nominations and three wins: Best Jazz Vocal Album for “Dear Ella,” Best Arrangement Accompanying a Vocal for “Cotton Tail” (from “Dear Ella”), and the 2011 Grammy for Best Jazz Vocal Album for “Eleanora Fagan (1915-1959): To Billie With Love From Dee Dee.”  Broadway audiences will remember her role as Glinda, the Good Witch, in “The Wiz”– a performance that won her the Tony Award’s Best Featured Actress in a Musical and showcased her incredible voice, beauty and stage presence. In addition to her concert performances around the world, Bridgewater serves as UN Goodwill Ambassador for the FAO and is host of NPR’s nationally syndicated radio program “JazzSet with Dee Dee Bridgewater.”  No stranger to the stage, she has starred in productions of Sophisticated Ladies, Cosmopolitan Greetings, Black Ballad, Carmen Jazz and Cabaret (the first Black actress to star as Sally Bowles).

With over 150 production and directorial credits, Stephen Stahl’s work in theater, film and television have paired him with award-winning talent including Bill Cosby, Patti LaBelle, Clint Holmes, Billy Joel, Mink Stole and Jason Bateman amongst others. Stephen’s 2006 independent feature film Consequences won Best Feature Film(Thriller) in the Los Angeles International Independent Film and Video Festival and garnered the award for Best Director of a Feature Film.

Multi-award-winning set designer Beowulf Boritt, along with noted costumes designer Patricia A. Hibbert, and acclaimed lighting designed by Ryan O’Gara will head the design team for the upcoming Billie Holiday musical Lady Day.

The design team also includes the award-winning sound designer by Brett Jarvis and projection and media specialist Darrel Maloney.  The management staff is headed by Manny Kladitis of Niko Companies as general manager and Peter Cromarty of Cromarty & Co. will serve as press agent.  Hofstetter+partners AGENCY212 along with Leanne Schanzer Promotions will handle advertising and marketing duties respectively.  For more information log onto: www.ladydaythemusical.com

New York based award-winning journalist Audrey J. Bernard covers entertainment, fashion & beauty, film, lifestyles and travel for the Electronic Urban Report and other outlets.  Contact her via: [email protected].

audrey bernard

Audrey J. Bernard