Slidell 9-year-old takes turn as young 'Tina'; 'Fly' to soar at BB's

Ayvah Johnson is realizing a dream to perform on the Saenger stage.

And for a 9-year-old from Slidell, that's pretty good.

The veteran performer ("Annie," "Once On This Island" and "Fences") will appear as young Tina Turner when "Tina — The Tina Turner Musical" opens Tuesday at the 1111 Canal St. theater.

For Ayvah, the dream goes back to a Lauren Daigle performance, something she said her mom, Kaula, has reminded her of in the past. The story goes that she remarked at the time she wanted to sing on the stage. 

But now, her dream is a bit more specific.

"Actually, being young Tina has always been my dream," she said recently during a phone interview. The Johnson duo is traveling with the national company. Before that, she was a student at Slidell's Whispering Forest Elementary and keeps up with school online these days.

Having been introduced to the music of Tina Turner by her mom, Ayvah has jumped into the role with gusto and is making the most of her experience.

"It's fun getting to meet new people. Doing what I love is the most important thing," she said. "And I think one other thing … is being able to do this at such a young age and getting this wonderful opportunity."

And she's taking advantage of that opportunity to sing some classic Turner tunes.

"I get to sing a few of her songs," she said. "It's pretty fun … So many people love and adore these songs." 

The show, peppered with "Let's Stay Together," "What's Love Got to Do with It," "(Simply) The Best" and "Proud Mary," looks at the life and career of the entertainer, from childhood through the Ike years and to her success as one of the top solo artists. It is part of the Broadway in New Orleans series.

The show opens at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday through Feb. 9, 8 p.m. Feb. 10-11, 2 p.m. Feb. 11, and 1 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. Feb. 12. Tickets start at $35. Visit

Up, up and away

The story of the Tuskegee Airmen takes off at BB's Stage Door Canteen at The National WWII Museum.

"Fly" looks at four African American pilots who faced the war on two fronts: the Axis on the battlefront and racism on the homefront.

The show, directed by Tommye Myrick, of Voices in the Dark Repertory Theatre, blends live action with videography, special effects and dance to tell the story of the men who trained at Tuskegee, Alabama. Taking the roles of four of the more than 1,000 airmen are Jimez Alexander, Brian Egland, Atlantis Clay and Michael C. Forest. Also appearing are L.G. Williams II, Michael John Smith and Noah Hazzard.

The show runs at 7 p.m. Friday, Feb. 9 and 24 plus 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, and Feb. 25. Tickets start at $32 at the theater, 945 Magazine St., in New Orleans. Visit

Dey back, hawt!

The ladies of the Mystic Krewe of Terpisichore are planning their truck parade and ball in this iconic slice of New Orleans "yatdom" running for three performances at Rivertown Theaters for the Performing Arts.

"And the Ball and All" has become a stalwart aspect of the Carnival season. Written by Ricky Graham, the story is packed with New Orleans idioms and good times as the ladies gear up for their celebration and ride.

Becky Allen headlines the cast that includes Lisa Picone Love, Yvette Hargis, Chelle Duke, Rebecca Taliancich, Mandy Zirkenbach, Jessie Terrebonne Thompson and Tracy Collins.

Tickets start at $35. The show runs at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday at 325 Minor St. in Kenner. Visit

'Here's to you, Mrs. Robinson'

One of the hallmark groups of the 1960s, Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel were responsible for such hits as "Bridge Over Troubled Water," "The Sound of Silence" and "Mrs. Robinson."

The rise to fame, breakup and watershed 1981 reunion concert in Central Park are the features of "The Simon & Garfunkel Story" playing at 8 p.m. Tuesday at the Mahalia Jackson Theater for the Performing Arts in Armstrong Park.

With video projections, film footage and photos, the show includes a live band providing some of the best-selling tunes of the era in a concert-style theatrical production.

Tickets start at $35. Visit

Celebrating Brecht

German playwright and poet Bertolt Brecht is the subject of two shows of music, spoken word and puppetry at the Allways Lounge's Twilight Room at 8:30 p.m. Monday and Tuesday.

"BrechtFestIV" features the talents of Chris Beroes-Haigis, Christien Bold, Sarah Brecht, David Buchbinder, Michael Cerveris, Bremner Duthie, Gabrielle Fischler, Grace Kennedy, Karen Kunkel, Rebecca Leigh, Donald Lewis, Harry Mayronne, Stoo Odom, Susanne Ortner, Stephanie Reed, David Symons, and Chris Wecklein.

In addition to the works of Brecht, there will also be the music of Kurt Weill (who paired with the author on "The Threepenny Opera"), Hanns Eisler and new works by Mayronne, Symons and Buchbinder. The show is a benefit for Innocence Project New Orleans.

Tickets start at $25. Visit

In production

"THE COLOR PURPLE": Extended — 7:30 p.m. Thursday to Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday; Le Petit Théâtre du Vieux Carré; 616 St. Peter St. Alice Walker's Pulitzer Prize story of Celie, her sister Nettie and how their lives are shaped and changed by men and events seemingly beyond their control. It is also a story of overcoming adversity, finding oneself and celebrating joy. Tickets start at $25.

"CRY IT OUT": 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Wednesday plus Feb. 9, 2:30 p.m. Saturday; Marquette Theatre, Loyola University, 6363 St. Charles Ave., New Orleans. Crescent City Stage's dark comedy about new motherhood and how it changes people and perspectives. Tickets start at $10.

"DUCK HUNTER SHOOTS ANGEL": 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday; Cutting Edge Theater, 757 Robert Blvd., Slidell. A duo of "bumbling Alabama brothers" are the focus of a comedy that looks at what happens when the pair think they have shot not a mallard but an angel. Tickets start at $25.

"JITNEY": 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday; Slidell Little Theatre, 2024 Nellie Drive. l. August Wilson's story of a gypsy cab station in Pennsylvania during the late 1970s, a tale of the human struggles of the men who drive for the company in an area of town where the regular cabs will not venture. Tickets start at $18.

"LAUGHTER ON THE 23RD FLOOR": 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 2:30 p.m. Sunday; 30 by Ninety Theatre, 880 Lafayette St., Mandeville. Neil Simon's look at the stable of writers for a comedy show, each trying to out-gag the other and hopefully catch the eye of the mercurial star. Tickets start at $11.

"PSYCH": 7 p.m. Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays through Feb. 12; Playmakers Theater, 19106 Playmakers Road, Covington. On the run with an assumed identity and a new wife, the lead takes off in a show that focuses on fears and myths surrounding black cats. The acting company with partner with St. Tammany Animal Rescue Team for the show. Tickets start at $20.

"ROLEPLAY": 7:30 p.m. Thursday to Sunday, plus 2 p.m. Sunday; Lupin Theatre, 150 Dixon Hall Annex, Tulane University, New Orleans. Goat in the Road Productions, the All in Sexual Prevention Committee and Tulane Theatre and Dance production about student experiences with love, sex, power and consent. Free.

"SISTAS THE MUSICAL": 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 2 p.m. Sundays, through Feb. 12; Teatro Wego, 177 Sala Ave., Westwego. Jefferson Performing Arts Society stages a hits-filled show about women cleaning out a matriarch's home, using music from the 1930s to the 1990s. Tickets start at $37.