John Dayo-Aliya’s newest play, “Blue, Miss Billie,” is a compelling story about one of the most influential (and tortured) jazz singers to ever grace the stage. Billie Holiday spent her life battling her demons, bad relationships, and a drug and alcohol addiction that eventually led to her death in 1959.
By interweaving two timelines through the character Fred, a journalist obsessed with Holiday, Dayo-Aliya creates a narrative that plays with this idea of sacrificing one’s self for their art and how that affects their relationships with those around them. Each of the eight cast members had been thoughtfully deployed with a specific purpose to move the story along. Perhaps none was more important than Caorl Eutsey, the actress who played Holiday with an ability to beautifully move the audience through scenes that were otherwise tough to witness.
Produced at Balch Street Theatre, I enjoyed the way the set was not just contained to the stage. It helped bring the audience into the story and made us more than just spectators. Dayo-Aliya continues to effectively hit the mark when it comes to meeting Ma’Sue’s mission of exploring and celebrating the African-American experience.
You still have a chance to catch the play before it’s gone. There are three more show times, Friday, September 11 at 8 pm and Saturday, September 12 at 2 pm and 8 pm. Balch Street Theatre is located at 220 S. Balch St. Akron, OH 44302. Tickets are $10 in advance and $12 at the door.