The Billie Holiday Story at Charing Cross Theatre
You take your allocated seat and wait for the show to begin, sipping a glass of wine and talking to your companions in the media-revolutionised 21st century. Then, as soon as the lights fade, the band starts playing the kind of jazz you probably only hear if you watch a film set in the 30s, when the sound was popular. After a few seconds, Nina Kristofferson makes her appearance, splendidly clad in an elegant dress, and starts singing. It feels like you’ve been thrown back to the 30s.
The Billie Holiday Story is a biographical production documenting the life of the legendary jazz singer. Nina Kristofferson interprets Billie Holiday with intensity as she tries to establish an intimate connection with the audience, addressing them and occasionally descending to the parterre to involve and play naughtily with them. Nina/Billie talks of her existence troubled by neglect, rape, betrayal and the many other issues she struggled to face. The actress doesn’t spare the public any of the cruellest moments in Holiday’s life, revealing her frailties and the solutions she resorted to: heavy drinking and drug abuse among others.
All these problems though are softened by her smooth, velvety voice singing the tunes that made Holiday famous but never strong enough to escape the demons that haunted her. The Billie Holiday Story is a two-hour journey in two acts, studded with great songs such as God Bless the Child, Fine and Mellow and Love for Sale.
NK Productions’ show is a cross-media event which aims to pay tribute to a talented woman who left an important legacy. Nina Kristofferson is moving as its star, delivering a passionate performance, accompanied by fine musicians. Billie Holiday is resurrected in Kristofferson’s homage and, though we may not take inspiration from the way she dealt with her problems, we can definitely revel in listening to her music – which is what really matters after all.
The Billie Holiday Story is at the Charing Cross Theatre until 25th May 2013. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.
Watch Nina Kristofferson in action here: