#TBBSUNDAYREAD Nellie Tandoh Reviews Nina Kristofferson’s ‘Billie Holiday Story’
Nina Kristofferson’s Billie Holiday Story @ Wimbledon Theatre – 9th April
After The British Blacklist’s interview with Nina Kristofferson last month, I was finally able to attend the highly anticipated, self –penned, one woman show that is the ‘Billie Holiday Story’. A dazzling and emotional account of one of America’s much-admired blues/jazz singers, the Billie Holiday Story tells of the singer’s life through monologues that entwine with her musical lyrics. As well as being accompanied by an astounding 5 piece jazz band, each of the songs tells a story, representing certain parts of her life and the meaning behind each one of them.
Kristofferson, who wrote and is the sole star of this performance, brings to life Holiday’s story without trying to impersonate. Instead, she takes the audience back in time through her knowledge and appreciation of the jazz singer by paying homage to her and bringing her own inspired vocal talents to the stage.
With the jazz band to set the mood of the performance, easily creating the atmosphere of a speakeasy, the audience are introduced to Billie Holiday. Her stage presence is sultry; matching the voice and once she begins to sing, you become mesmerised. The stage is simply set, with just a suitcase of Holiday’s possessions and a striking piece of red fabric, draped from ceiling to floor. This allows the audience to solely focus on Billie’s monologues and her sincere moments with the band. Amidst the beautiful sounds of her music, the backstory that haunts the star is openly described and performed, from her drink and drug habits, to the abuse she endured in many relationships. Kristofferson shows her knowledge by communicating the star’s lowest points, which led to her mental and emotional fall and does so with such grace that the audience are able to fully grasp the circumstances she underwent and empathise with her.
Though there were many intimate moments, I feel that some of it was lost due to it being such a large venue, however, Kristofferson managed to keep the ambiance stimulating by approaching the audience and inviting a few members to dance with her as she sings one of the numbers. By doing so, the audience are able to remain part of her world and become part of one of the ‘gigs’ Billie would have performed to.
It can be seen that Kristofferson really takes inspiration from Holiday as she performs with emotion, vivaciousness and character so effortlessly. I urge people who may be long lasting fans of Billie Holiday or those just interested in the jazz and blues scene, to visit with an open mind for a night of vibrant, soulful music whilst listening to the story of a truly influential singer.
Nina Kristofferson’s Billie Holiday Story is now on tour throughout the UK during April and May, with the next stop being Woking.
To find out more and book tickets visit: http://www.ninakristoffersonsbillieholidaystory.com/
Mild Warning – there are scenes of drug use and recaps of abuse, which may be unsuitable for younger viewers.
Click Here to read The British Blacklist’s interview with Nina Kristofferson
review for the british blacklist by @Nellie_Ville