By Brian Robin
Meet the Cast for "Nina Simone: Four Women"
Four SCR newcomers and a familiar face to SCR theatergoers make up the dynamic cast for Nina Simone: Four Women, which opens SCR’s 2022-23 season Oct. 2-23 on the Julianne Argyros Stage.
Written by Christina Ham and directed by Logan Vaughn, Nina Simone: Four Women is available to all subscribers this year. The powerful play features music from the Civil Rights Era activist and iconic voice to music lovers of all genres. It imagines how the iconic chanteuse gave voice to countless other Black women fighting to overcome stereotypes and racism.
Returning is Jennifer Leigh Warren, who plays Sarah. A critically acclaimed Broadway veteran, Warren last appeared at SCR in the 2000 production of The Education of Randy Newman. She drew praise for her role as the original Alice’s Daughter in Big River and as the original Crystal in Little Shop of Horrors. She also appeared in the Broadway productions of Marie Christine and Lonesome Traveler. Warren displayed her acting versatility by appearing as Mrs. Jefferson, Mrs. Cohen, Support Sue and the infamous homeless bag lady in RENT: LIVE on Fox TV. Warren starred as The Blues Singer in all four national tours of A Night with Janis Joplin. She has also performed in Sir Peter Hall’s Shakespeare Repertory Company and with the LA Philharmonic at Disney Concert Hall.
Chibuba Osuala, who plays Nina Simone, is a Nigerian American actress returning to the stage after earning her MA in Trauma Studies from NYU’s Gallatin School of Interdisciplinary Arts. Her emphasis centered on the connection between systemic oppression and abuse and the passing on of a communal trauma between women of the African Diaspora and how trauma and the healing process manifests creativity. She has appeared in productions at Atlantic Theatre Company, LABryinth Theater Company, The Playwrights Realm, New York Theatre Workshop and the National Black Theatre.
Meredith Noël, who plays Sweet Thing, brings several regional theatre credits to her SCR debut. She appeared in A Christmas Carol, For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/When the Rainbow Is Enuf, The Village of Vale (reading) and Flood (reading) at Kansas City Repertory. Noël was in Brainstorm at The Coterie Theatre, and The Wiz, Crowns, The Parchman Hour, Oliver Twist, The Hampton Years and A Christmas Carol at Virginia Stage Company.
Making her SCR debut as Sephronia, Arie Bianca Thompson played Octavia in the world premiere of Kirsten Greenidge’s Our Daughters Like Pillars at Huntington Theatre in Boston. Theatregoers saw Thompson at various regional and off-Broadway theatres, including Shakespeare in the Park, The Public Theater, Steppenwolf Theatre, Hartford Stage, Urban Stages and A Noise Within. Her television credits include “Law & Order: SVU” and in LMN’s movie series “Keeping Up With the Jones.’” Thompson’s recent film credits include Once Upon A Lifetime (Prime) and as Ashlaya in War of the World: Annihilation.
Richard Baskin Jr. makes his SCR debut as Sam Waymon. An accomplished vocalist, pianist, composer, orchestrator/arranger, actor and educator, Baskin appeared in the Broadway production of Freestyle Love Supreme. His musical influences run the spectrum: Motown, gospel, jazz, R&B, pop, rock, soul and country, a product of his musical upbringing in Saginaw, Michigan. Baskin captured the 2007 first prize at the Amateur Night competition at the famed Apollo Theatre in Harlem. With his band, Ricky B & the Soul Patrol, Baskin has played at several New York musical institutions, such as Feinstein’s/54 Below and The Triad Theatre. He currently teaches at the Manhatan School of Music.