Shiny disco balls and vintage glass long lights hung from the ceiling of the Malthouse’s Beckett Theatre. Tables of six surrounded the black and white linoleum covered stage, which was slightly elevated, occupied by a few microphones, a black piano and a stool. The audience indulged in a glass of red vino from the bar inside the theatre waiting for the ‘fabulous diva’ to surface on her closing night.
Without introduction, all the way from Brixton, Ruth Rogers-Wright appeared on stage in a striking orange silk turban, and began singing a ‘tune’, accompanied by Mark Fitzgibbon on piano. From political soul to gospel devotee, the songstress paid tribute to the inimitable Dr Nina Simone, who recorded 600 songs in her musical career. In her renditions of Nina Simone staples such as ‘My baby just care for me’, ‘Fodder of my wings’ and ‘Here comes the sun’, her vocals were powerful, but her stage presence was less so.
The tribute was ordered in a somewhat awkward fashion with Rogers-Wright reading out a self-penned poem entitled ‘Fabulous diva, baby’ late in the piece. The pontificating and storytelling about seeking Nina Simone’s autograph at various concerts came to an end as the soulful singer played out the answer to her own question about the definition of a diva, ‘singing for herself’ and appearing most comfortable performing one of her own compositions, the heartfelt ‘Care has a melody.’
Malthouse Theatre Presents And The Colored Girls Go…
Fabulous Diva The Tribute to Nina Simone
Beckett Theatre, CUB Malthouse
Friday 6 and 13 July 10 pm.
$24 - $32 + b/f
9685 5111/ www.malthousetheatre.com.au