By Kendra Jones

The World According to Micki Grant, showcases Micki Grant’s lifework of songs, poetry, and vibrant life. The three women cast as “the three Micki’s” (Matelyn Alicia, April Armstrong, Patrice Bell) present us with beautiful, impressive ranges of voice and song, as they take us through Micki’s life as a composer, poet, and woman. Her poems and lyrics lead us through her youth, college years, rise to the top of music charts, years as an actor across television and theatrical roles, and, of course, her writing portfolio. In addition to her well-known works, we are given the opportunity to experience Micki’s unpublished works and music rarely heard.

Micki Grant’s 1973 album “Lovin’ Kind Of Woman” plays as the audience funnels into the theater. A woman of many firsts, Micki was the first woman to write and star in a Broadway musical and won a Grammy Award for Best Score in the musical Don’t Bother Me I Can’t Cope, in 1973. for the same production, she won an Obie Award. She had also earned Tony nominations for her work of a musical theatre book, music and lyrics–the first woman to do so in all three musical theater writing disciplines. In addition to her theater successes, Micki’s single “Pink Shoe Laces” reached the number 3 place on the US Singles chart, and she became a published poet as a teenager.

A man embodying the male characters from Micki’s works, Brian Davis, tap dances across the stage and unleashes his own unexpected and magnificent vocal performances throughout the show. It is a night to take in wonderful song and pay praise and honor to the acclaimed works Micki crafted within her nearly a century-worth of artistry.

While the “three Micki’s” take the stage simultaneously, and other times drifting up and down the stage, taking turns with songs and reciting and speaking, I was initially under the impression, and hoping that each of the Mickis would represent a specific time period of her life—alas, this was not the case. There are three sections of the show: “Classic Micki,” “Showbiz,” and “America,” but still all three Mickis performed in each section. I thought one woman would represent young Micki in grade school when her first poetry collection was published by her Baptist church. Another I had thought would represent a young adult mick, the third an older version. Or, perhaps, one of the Mickis would take the role as the actor, another the poet, the third the singer and musician. Instead, they alternated singing lines and transitioned between other characters outside of Micki, including her mother. This complicated the time periods and events for me, and I was left questioning the reason that these actors were not differentiated. I wasn’t sure their roles playing these other characters had a necessity to it. If so, it could have been done more skillfully. I think this could have more skillfully done.

This show is for all generations of those who appreciate the work of Micki Grant, and can reach those just searching for a relaxing and enjoyable evening of poetry and dance. The passion these four performers exhibit is absorbed by the audience, and whether we grew up listening to Micki or have only heard one or two of her works, we see the tremendous respect and admiration for this woman.

The presenter and producer of this production is Woodie King, Jr.’s New Federal Theatre. The play was commissioned to Nora Cole by New Federal Theatre after Micki Grant’s death in 2021.

Elizabeth Van Dyke, Producing Artistic Director of NFT, had been given a trove of Micki Grant’s unpublished poetry by her nephew, Darryl Walker, and Van Dyke’s initial impulse was to create an evening of it.

Micki Grant. Photo by Lia Chang.

FEATURING: Matelyn Alicia, April Armstrong, Patrice Bell (The Three Micki’s); and Brian Davis (Male Character).

CREATIVE TEAM: Musical Director is Tom Spahn. Choreographer is Lakai Worrell. Set designer and Technical Director is Patrice Davidson. Assistant Set Designer is Marlon Campbell. Lighting designer is Victor En Yu Tan. Costume Designer is Ali Turns. Sound Designer is Aalics Bronson. Projections Designer is Michele Baldwin. Properties are by Marlon Campell. Production Stage Manager is Fumiko Tanaka. Assistant Stage Manager is Mary Caitlyn Deffely. Casting Director is Lawrence Evans.

The World According to Micki Grant is playing at New Federal Theatre through June 29. Evening shows are Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday at 7PM. Matinees are Wednesday at 2PM, Saturday at 2PM, and Sunday at 3PM. An evening show has been added on Wednesday, June 26 at 7PM. There will be no evening show June 29.

Tickets are $39 for general admission, $20 students/seniors (with code nft24), and $18 on Tuesdays.

Tickets can be purchased at www.newfederaltheatre.com .

Running time is 90 minutes with no intermission.