In the aftermath of 1963’s 16th Street Baptist Church bombing, Nina Simone rocked the nation with “Four Women,” her tribute in song to the four little girls lost in the tragedy. Powerful anthems such as “Mississippi Goddam,” “Old Jim Crow,” and “To Be Young, Gifted and Black” followed, fueling the Civil Rights movement and transforming her public persona from songstress to activist. Celebrate Ms. Simone’s lasting legacy in this provocative and personal musical journey.

Nina Simone: Four Women is produced by special arrangement with Alexis Williams, BRET ADAMS, LTD., 448 West 44th Street, New York, NY 10036.
Nina Simone: Four Women was commissioned by Park Square Theatre, St. Paul, Minnesota. Richard Cook, Artistic Director, C. Michael-Jon Pease, Executive Director and received its first public performance on March 8, 2016

at Northlight Theatre
9501 Skokie Boulevard, Skokie, IL 60077

The production is made in part by:

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Melanie Brezill

Sweet Thing

Melanie is thrilled to make her Northlight Theatre debut! Broadway and National Tours: The Book of Mormon and Mamma Mia!. Regional credits include: Little Shop of Horrors, Aida (Drury Lane); Last Stop on Market Street, My Wonderful Birthday Suit, and The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane (Chicago Children’s Theatre); Man In the Ring, Caroline, Or Change (Court); A Christmas Carol, Crowns (Goodman); The MLK Project (Writers); Yeast Nation (American Theater Company); Living Green (Victory Gardens); Once On This Island (Porchlight). TV Credits: Empire. Next up: For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide / When the Rainbow Is Enuf at Court Theatre. She would like to thank her family, friends, and Stewart Talent for their love and support!

Sydney Charles

Nina Simone

Sydney is an award-winning actress hailing from Chicago, who committed her life to acting after years in Corporate America. Select Chicago credits: Flyin West (American Blues), Father Comes Home From the Wars (Goodman), Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner (Court), Insurrection: Holding History (Stage Left), Lottery Day (Goodman, New Stages), three editions of The Fly Honey Show (The Inconvenience), Spamilton Chicago (Royal George), An Octoroon (Definition Theatre), The Wiz (Kokandy), Prowess (Jackalope), and Dessa Rose (Bailiwick Chicago). Her directing debut was with Wildclaw Theatre with their yearly Deathscribe Festival of Horror Plays, and she just served as Associate Director for The Shipment at Red Tape Theatre. TV/Web: The Haven, The T, and Shameless (Showtime). She is proud to be an artistic associate with Firebrand Theater – the recently formed feminist musical theater company. Sydney thanks God for every opportunity and her circle for supporting her every step of the way. Represented by Stewart Talent.

Deanna Reed-Foster


Deanna is an Emmy Award and Jeff Award winning actress who is thrilled to be making her Northlight Theatre debut.  She was last seen in SideShow Theatre’s HeLa. She has worked with many theaters in the Chicago area including Strawdog, Steppenwolf, Black Ensemble, Pulse Theatre, Court, Shattered Globe (Ensemble Member) and The New Colony (Ensemble Member). Deanna can be seen in a recurring role on NBC’s Chicago Fire and she can also be seen in several films like Widows, Last Flag Flying, Southside With You, and Roll Bounce. Deanna is represented by DDO Chicago.

Ariel Richardson


Ariel is thrilled to be making her Northlight Theatre debut. An alum of Oklahoma City University; Ariel received her BFA in Acting. She was most recently seen in Oak Park Festival Theatre’s production of African Company Presets Richard III. Other theatre credits include Southern Gothic (Windy City Playhouse) and An Octoroon (Definition Theatre Company). Her television credits include Empire (FOX Television Network) and The CHI (Showtime). Ariel is represented by Stewart Talent. Endless love and thanks to her family and friends.

Daniel Riley

Sam Waymon/Music Director

Dan is thrilled to make his Northlight debut! Dan was last seen in American Blues Theater’s production of Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story (Jeff Award, Best Ensemble and Best Musical–Midsize). He has worked in theatre and cabaret with numerous groups in and around Chicago, most recently Paramount Theatre, Davenport’s Piano Bar, and the Ravinia Festival. Dan also coaches and accompanies soloists and choirs of all ages in many styles of music. He regularly sings at Holy Name Cathedral and with the Lakeside Singers, and can be seen Sunday mornings on WGN-TV singing for Mercy Home for Boys and Girls. Thanks to Kenneth and the team for the opportunity! “If music be the food of love, play on.”

Production Team

Kenneth L. Roberson


Director credits: Ethel (Alliance Theatre and Alabama Shakespeare Festival); Crowns, Lady Day at the Emerson Bar and Grill (Arena Stage); Once on This Island (Baltimore Center Stage); Wycliffe Gordon’s Jazz a La Carte (Harlem Jazz Shrines Festival); Frog Kiss (Virginia Stage); Urinetown, Into The Woods and Pippin (Indiana University). Choreography Broadway and Off-Broadway: Avenue Q (Tony Award Best Musical), All Shook Up, Purlie, Colman Domingo’s A Boy and His Soul, John Lequizamo’s Freak, Seven Guitars and The Piano Lesson. Choreographer TV and Film: HBO’s Lackawanna Blues, Preaching to the Choir, and John Lequizamo’s House of Buggin’ (Emmy nomination outstanding choreography). Also a performance artist, his one man shows have played New York Public Theatre, Joe’s Pub the Triad Theatre, and Baltimore Center Stage. A graduate of the University of Georgia, he is currently Professor of Practice at Indiana University in the Theatre, Drama and Contemporary Dance Department.

Christina Ham


Christina Ham’s plays have been developed and produced both nationally and internationally with the Kennedy Center, Arena Stage, Center Theater Group, The Guthrie Theater, Ensemble Studio Theatre, The Goodman Theatre, Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston, Tony Award winning producer Arielle Tepper Madover off-Broadway at Theater Row, and the Tokyo International Arts Festival among many others. Christina is a two-time recipient of a McKnight Fellowship in Playwriting and a Jerome Fellowship from the Playwrights’ Center in Minneapolis, the Marianne Murphy Women & Philanthropy Award in Playwriting, a MacDowell Colony Artist Residency, and a previous nominee for Center Theater Group’s Richard E. Sherwood Award for Distinguished Emerging Theater Artist. She has received commissions from the Kennedy Center, The Guthrie Theater, and Ensemble Studio Theatre/Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, among many others. Her plays are published by Dramatic Publishing, Heinemann, PlayScripts, Inc., Smith and Kraus, and Oberon Books. She is a graduate of the University of Southern California and holds an MFA in Playwriting from The UCLA School of Theater, Film, and Television where she was a Graduate Opportunity Fellow.

Christopher Rhoton

Scenic Design

Lee Fiskness

Lighting Design

Michael Alan Stein

Costume Design

Michael returns Northlight where he previously designed Thunder Knocking on the Door. Off-Broadway: Absolution (St. Luke’s Theatre); Happy Family, Devoted Dreams (Beckett Theatre); How to Write While Sleeping (Soho Rep). Chicago: Beauty’s Daughter (American Blues Theatre), Vivisections of a Blown Mind (Goodman); Nikki Giovanni: A New Song for a New Day, Geva: the Old Settler (Steppenwolf). Regional: The Christians, Seven Guitars (Baltimore Center Stage); Seven Guitars (St. Louis Black Rep); Colored Museum (Alliance Theatre); Thunder Knocking on the Door (Guthrie); In Walks Ed (Long Wharf). Film/TV: Maya Angelou: And Still I Rise (American Masters, PBS), L.A. Hair (We Network), Chicagoliscious (Style Network), The Drunk, The Truth, Of Boys and Men. Commercial credits include Walmart, Walgreens, McDonald’s. Education: Parsons School of Design, NYC. Awards: National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, Joseph Jefferson Citation, Joseph Jefferson Nom, 3 Black Theatre Alliance Awards.

Lindsay Jones

Sound Design

Northlight credits include: Snapshots, A Life, The Miser, Lady, Bee Luther Hatchee and Rounding Third. Off-Broadway credits include: Public Theater, Playwrights Horizons, NYTW, Vineyard Theatre, Pearl Theatre and Primary Stages. Regional credits include: Center Stage, American Conservatory Theatre, Hartford Stage, South Coast Repertory, Alliance, Goodman, Arena Stage, Yale Repertory, The Old Globe, Chicago Shakespeare, Alley, Steppenwolf and Lookingglass. International credits include: Stratford Shakespeare Festival (Canada), Royal Shakespeare Company (England), as well as productions in Austria, Zimbabwe, South Africa and Scotland. Jones has received six Joseph Jefferson Awards and 16 nominations, two Ovation Awards and three nominations, LA Drama Critics Circle Award, two ASCAP Plus Awards and two Drama Desk Award nominations. Film scores include The Brass Teapot for Magnolia Pictures and 2006 Academy Award-winning A Note Of Triumph for HBO Films.

Rita Vreeland

Production Stage Manager

Rita is proud to be the stage manager for Nina Simone, her 32nd Northlight production. Other recent projects: The Polar Express train ride, seven seasons of The Christmas Schooner at Mercury Theater, and productions at Victory Gardens, Route 66 Theatre Company, Theatre at the Center, and Northlight’s productions of Chapatti and Stella & Lou in Galway, Ireland. She is the proud wife of actor Tom Hickey and mom to five-year-old Charlie, and has been a member of Actors’ Equity for 18 years. Thank you for supporting live theatre!

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OPEN CAPTIONING – Nina Simone: Four Women, February 23, at 2:30pm
This performance will be open captioned. All seats do not provide a clear view of the captions. Please indicate your need for captioning when purchasing your tickets by phone 847.673.6300 to be seated in the correct area, or use the “Purchase by Seat” option when buying online (select the LEFT section and look for the symbol indicating seats for open captioning).