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Nina Kristofferson’s Billie Holiday Story review at Charing Cross London

Billie Holiday’s iconic voice dripped with life experience, and with good reason. The jazz and blues star’s 44 short years were littered with rape, child prostitution, addiction, rehab, prison – and international recognition for being one of last century’s finest singers.

Nina Kristofferson’s acclaimed Billie Holiday Story delivers heartbreaking and dramatic snippets about Lady Day’s upbringing and adulthood between renditions of hits including God Bless the Child and the Man I Love. It’s a wonderful idea for a show, particularly when you throw in Allan Rogers’ flawless live band and Mike Robertson’s atmospheric lighting.

Kristofferson’s writing is strong. Unfortunately, though, her performance last night didn’t live up to expectations. Perhaps she was having an off day. Or perhaps the actress and director Ben Woolf have spent too long recently trying to imitate the singer’s mannerisms and not long enough nailing her voice.

There were glimpses of greatness, most notably during the upbeat encore – we could have done with more cheerful songs during the rest of the show, too. However, when the highlight of a show comes after the curtain call you can’t help wishing you were watching the show on a night when Kristofferson was at the top of her game.

Production Information

Charing Cross, London, April 1-May 25

Nina Kristofferson
Ben Woolf
Nordiska, Steven M. Levy, Alex Armitage, NK Productions
Cast includes
Nina Kristofferson
Running time