Again, that’s par for the course with this type of show.
The cast of Theatrical Outfit’s musical “Simply Simone” includes (clockwise from top left) Marliss Amiea, Tina Fears, Chelsea Reynolds and Chani Maisonet. CONTRIBUTED BY CHRISTOPHER BARTELSKI
Where the Outfit’s transcendent “Simply Simone” rises so boldly above the norm — and truly soars — is in how imaginatively and evocatively envisioned it is by director/choreographer Patdro Harris, how beautifully accompanied under the musical direction of Chika Kaba Ma’atunde (leading a three-piece band), and how tremendously it’s acted and vocalized by a quartet of uniformly magnificent performers: Marliss Amiea, Tina Fears, Chani Maisonet and Chelsea Reynolds, representing different stages of Simone’s persona.
Harris’ co-stars function as a perfectly orchestrated ensemble — complementing one another in their many moments together with the sort of “elegance, grace and poise” that was characteristic of Simone, often in striking and resounding four-part harmony, and each of them shines just as brightly and skillfully in her own solos.
Chani Maisonet (from top), Marliss Amiea, Tina Fears and Chelsea Reynolds co-star in the Theatrical Outfit musical “Simply Simone.” CONTRIBUTED BY CHRISTOPHER BARTELSKI
In the same way that there isn’t the slightest weak link in the cast, virtually every one of the show’s 30 or so greatest hits is a highlight. Standouts among the group numbers include “Balm in Gilead,” “Why?” and “Take Me to the Water,” the lively “Liberian Calypso” and a lilting “Here Comes the Sun.” Among a few duets, Maisonet and Reynolds register with a memorable “I Loves You Porgy,” Reynolds and Amiea with an equally captivating “Alone Again, Naturally.”
There’s Fears’ solos “I Put a Spell on You,” “Black Is the Color of My True Love’s Hair” and “Mississippi Goddam.” Amiea’s “Trouble in Mind” and “Sinnerman.” Maisonet’s “Love Me or Leave Me” and “Strange Fruit.” Reynolds’ “Beautiful Land” and “The Other Woman.”
Despite the fairly formulaic framework, Harris and company otherwise deliver an embarrassment of riches, and of the highest order.
Through April 15. 7:30 p.m. Wednesdays-Saturdays; 2:30 p.m. Saturdays-Sundays. $20-$48. The Balzer Theater at Herren's, 84 Luckie St. N.W., Atlanta. 678-528-1500, www.theatricaloutfit.org.
Bottom line: Splendidly directed, gloriously performed.