It’s the next best thing to an actual RiRi concert.
Between eight hit albums, crushing awards shows year-after-year and her high-profile relationship with Drake (despite not having *technically* confirmed anything), Rihanna is the ultimate R&B pop queen. It’s no wonder that her superfans, better known as the Navy, came together to create something purely magical: a musical about the songstress’ life.
Titled “Good Girl Gone Bad,” the musical details RiRi’s explosive music career, telling the story through her hit songs and interview clips. The show’s writer and director, Alex Tobey, calls the production a “bioconcert.”
“I am a Rihanna superfan, first and foremost,” Tobey told staff writer Gabby Bess at Broadly. “She’s under 30 and has already had a ten-plus year career. Just thinking about all the changes?—?she switches so seamlessly from one style to the next, from one album to the next. She’s covered so much ground. She’s such a diverse artist, and she’s constantly reinventing herself."
The 45-minute show answers the question Oprah infamously asked her in a 2006 interview: who is Rihanna? We’re introduced to her as a fresh face from Barbados when Jay Z discovers her. She gradually becomes more confident in her music and wardrobe throughout the play. We meet all the men in her life, including Chris Brown, Eminem, Kanye West and Drake—all played by the same actor. The climax of the show is a dark moment when she becomes a public face for domestic violence.
The woman who played Rihanna in the production (Nicolette Stephanie Templier) said the singer’s struggles and triumphs were similar to her own.“I went through a really destructive, young love relationship that took me over the edge,” said Templier. “I had to get out of it to survive. Right now I’m in the recovery phase, and [Rihanna] is on the other side of it. As a woman?—?and as a young woman who has tried to be this ‘picture perfect image’ that you don’t really want to be, who is just trying to find her voice in this sea of other voices telling you what you should be?—?I found it very relatable.”
Bess writes that the main appeal of the musical is the fact that we project ourselves onto pop stars lives and in a sense, become a part of the narrative. This is why we care almost too much when celebrities go through breakups and hardships—we feel like we’re losing a part of ourselves.
When Rihanna wrote songs like “We Found Love,” it was almost as though it was her defense-anthem for her relationship with Chris Brown. “I had to dig deep and find the strength that she might have been able to find,” Templier said, adding that she wrote a lot of her own songs to prepare for the role.
Unfortunately, the musical stopped running at Soho’s HERE Arts Center last month ????. But if it’s any indication, a kick-ass production like this shows what Rihanna fans are capable of pulling off. Perhaps next time we’ll get a full-blown Broadway musical dedicated to queen RiRi.