By Derrel “Jazz” Johnson
I had the opportunity to see a show called Shida that opened in late July at Ars Nova (located at 511 West 54th street in Manhattan) and I was amazed with the performance and writing of the show. Shida stars Jeannette Bayardelle, and for those who are regulars on The Great White Way, you may have seen Bayardelle star as Celie in the Broadway production of Oprah Winfrey’s The Color Purple, for which she received the NAACP Theater Award for Best Lead Actress in a Musical. You also may have viewed her in the role of Dionne in the Tony Award-winning revival of Hair.
In Shida, Bayardelle has taken her talents to Off-Broadway, and absolutely amazes in the production. It is a one-woman show that will make you experience a multitude of emotions. You’ll be joyous and laughing one moment, while a few moments later you will be angry and sad. This is thanks to the talented triple threat that Bayardelle is, as she is the writer of the show in addition to her acting and amazing singing voice displayed on stage.
I had the chance to speak with Bayardelle after she performed at the Gospel Celebration for A Great Day in Harlem at Grant’s Tomb at the end of July. She said that the inspiration for the story was a great friend of hers who wishes to be a writer, but has her dream deferred by a number of personal setbacks, some within her control, and some that leave her powerless. Bayardelle expressed that her friend is doing much better and was really excited to see her story portrayed on stage.
I asked Bayardelle about the emotional toil it must have taken on her to re-live those difficult moments that she experienced first-hand, and she acknowledged shedding some tears while working on the project. No question that some of you will shed tears as well at the show as well.
One of the many remarkable things about Bayardelle’s performance is her ability to change between the different characters so quickly and effectively. It doesn’t take long before the audience is able to tell the difference between the main character Shida as a little girl, her Mother, teacher, or her best friend, or any other character.
Shida is an amazing show that I’m certain will leave those who see it in awe of the immense talent that Jeannette Bayardelle possesses as an actress, singer, and writer. The show is directed by Andy Sandberg, a Tony Award-winning producer of the Broadway revival of Hair. To check out more about the show, visit ShidatheMusical.com online for photos, video, reviews, and, most importantly, to purchase tickets so that you can become one of the many who rave about this dynamic musical.