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Pays tribute to the singular Nina Simone

Goodspeed Musicals’ Popular Outdoor Summer Series will Welcome Broadway’s Laiona Michelle

to the Tent August 4 -29!

EAST HADDAM, CT, June 17, 2021: Broadway and Goodspeed alumna Laiona Michelle (Amazing Grace, The Terris Theatre) brings her stirring bio-musical Little Girl Blue: The Nina Simone Musical, about the life and music of the legendary Nina Simone to Goodspeed by the River this August. Written by and featuring actor Laiona Michelle along with a trio of musicians, this moving new musical begins August 4 and runs through August 29 under the tent alongside the Goodspeed Opera House in East Haddam, Conn. Goodspeed by the River is presented by Community Health Center, Inc.

Inspired by Simone’s story, and the music that has come to define her, Laiona Michelle breathes life into Simone and gives her a platform from which to speak her truth in Little Girl Blue. “I fell in love with Nina Simone a very long time ago, but only really understood her importance in the world of music, and as an activist, once I began researching this project.” Ms. Michelle along with her collaborative partners on this project, have drawn from Nina’s rich life to create a portrait that is honest and powerful. Little Girl Blue had its premiere at George Street Playhouse in 2019.

Ms. Michelle’s dynamic performance, filled with songs like “Feeling Good”,”Ooh Child”,”My Way” and more, will be supported by a company of three musicians, Saadi Zain on bass, Kenneth Salters on percussion and Music Supervisor/Arranger Mark Fifer on keys.

Little Girl Blue: The Nina Simone Musical is an exuberant new musical with a tour de force performance by award-winning actor Laiona Michelle. From classical music -prodigy - to “High Priestess of Soul,” this story taps into the legend that is Nina Simone with an honest and powerful portrait of her rich life and her ultimate decline. Feel the passion, joy and pain of a woman adored by millions – then and now.

Little Girl Blue was written and conceived by Laiona Michelle (NAACP Hollywood Award, the Barrymore and Carbonell Awards) and features music and various quotes by Nina Simone with additional materials by Devanand Janki (Winner of the Lortel, Callaway, & GLAAD Media Awards). Janki who is founder and artistic director of Live & In Color, whose mission is developing new plays and musicals that celebrate diversity, will Direct. Music Supervisor/Arranger will be Mark Fifer.

This musical is produced by Goodspeed Musicals by Special Arrangement with Rashad V. Chambers.

Goodspeed’s Donna Lynn Hilton shared “I am honored that Little Girl Blue will be the first new musical developed and presented by Goodspeed Musicals under my tenure as Artistic Director.” She stated, “I am particularly happy to welcome writer and actress Laiona Michele back to Goodspeed following her beautiful performance in Amazing Grace and to have the opportunity to introduce director Devanand Janki’s work to our audiences.” Ms. Hilton continued, “Dev is an important voice working in the creation of new musical theatre today. I am delighted that our community will have the opportunity to experience his work this summer at Goodspeed.”

Ms. Michelle stated “I hope audiences gain a new appreciation for the life of this immensely gifted musician who was a master pianist. Nina was a defiant force of nature who spoke out against injustice.” She continued, “and isn’t it auspicious that there is a resurgence of interest in Nina of late” referring to Ms. Simone’s recent induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame last year and to the Netflix documentary. It has introduced a new, young audience to the legacy of this powerful and influential musician – an extraordinary woman who battled depression and personal demons throughout her life with the same intensity as when she fought against injustice.

Little Girl Blue: The Nina Simone Musical performances will be Wednesday through Saturdays at 7pm and Sunday matinees at 2pm. This show will include an intermission.

Little Girl Blue: The Nina Simone Musical will be performed rain or shine under the big top as part of the Goodspeed by the River summer series. For a complete list of Goodspeed by the River summer events currently running please see the FACT SHEET below.

Goodspeed by the River is presented by Community Health Center, Inc. and is sponsored by RisCassi & Davis, P.C.; Suzio York Hill; Richard P. Garmany Fund at Hartford Foundation for Public Giving; Burry Frederick Foundation and The Shubert Foundation, Hoffman Audi and Sennheiser.

Tickets per event will be $45. Tickets are on sale now and only available through the Box Office at (860) 873-8668 open Tuesdays 10am-5pm, Wednesdays - Fridays 10am-7:30pm, Saturday and Sunday 11am-7:30pm, and closed Mondays.


GOODSPEED BY THE RIVER PICK THREE OFFER: Buy tickets for 3 or more events and save $5 per ticket!


In appreciation of all you've done to get us through the pandemic, we're offering a $5 discount to healthcare workers, first responders, teachers and frontline workers for any Wednesday Goodspeed by the River performance. (Two discounted tickets per party per event. Subject to availability.)

GELSTON DINNER PACKAGE - $69 Includes dinner at the Gelston House (right next to Goodspeed) and a ticket to a Wednesday or Thursday evening show. Please arrive at the Gelston House at 5:15pm.

WE CARE ABOUT YOUR SAFETY. Goodspeed follows state and CDC guidelines for safety. Below are just a few of the ways we're keeping you safe.

This event takes place in a tent in the Goodspeed parking lot. For safety reasons, we are limiting capacity and will allow space between parties.

Distancing will be maintained within the tent by leaving empty seats between each party. From June 10 to July 4, there will be two empty seats between parties. From July 7 to September 5, there will be one empty seat between parties. Empty seats will be clearly labeled.

No physical tickets will be used, instead guests will be emailed a confirmation and will check in upon arrival at the tent.

Hand sanitizer will be available at the entrances and at portable restrooms.

The Goodspeed lawn will be accessible for picnics before or after the show.

A complete list of audience guidelines, seating plan, timed entry and event information can be found at

Goodspeed Musicals has achieved international acclaim and is the first theatre in the nation to receive two Tony Awards for outstanding achievement in musical theatre. Under the leadership of Donna Lynn Hilton, Artistic Director and David B. Byrd, Managing Director, Goodspeed Musicals is dedicated to the celebration, development and advancement of musical theatre. Goodspeed creates powerful, world-class productions of enlightening new and established works to entertain and inspire audiences. From Goodspeed, 21 musicals have gone to Broadway (including Man of La Mancha, Annie and Holiday Inn) and more than 90 new musicals have been launched. Goodspeed’s Festival of New Musicals and the Johnny Mercer Writers Grove are distinguished cornerstones of the organization that highlight its commitment to nurture the talents of new and established artists and support the creative process. Goodspeed also maintains The Scherer Library of Musical Theatre and The Max Showalter Center for Education in Musical Theatre. Goodspeed gratefully acknowledges the support of United Airlines, the official airline of Goodspeed Musicals; the official audio sponsor Sennheiser; and official auto sponsor Hoffman Audi. The organization is supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development, Office of the Arts.


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