Tennis great Billie Jean King is the focus of the new off-off Broadway play "She is King." NY1's Frank DiLella filed the following report.
Sports icon and female powerhouse Billie Jean King takes to center court - rather, stage - in the new multimedia performance piece "She is King."
The work, which is a compilation of three different television interviews King did from the late '70s through early '80s, is the brainchild of performer Laryssa Husiak. Husiak not only conceived the piece, but she also stars as King.
"There's three interviews, they're in chronological order, and the first one is right after the Battle of the Sexes, so right at the height of her career, really," Husiak says. "And then, you have Billie Jean on this interview with Toni Tennille, who is a very bubbly personality, a woman, very feminine, and so it's interesting to see the contrast between Billie Jean and Toni. And then the third interview is just a year later, and it's with Barbara Walters, and Barbara Walters is interviewing Billie Jean King and her husband, at the time, Larry King, and what happened there was, that interview took place right after Billie Jean was outed for having an affair with a woman and an affair that she had many years ago, actually, of the time, around the time of that first interview that we’re performing."
Rounding out the trio of actors are Josh Gelb and Louisa Bradshaw. In addition, the production will feature a handful of middle-school children who act as a chorus and play members of a makeshift television crew.
Husiak says that the young performers are a nod to Billie Jean, who discovered her passion for tennis at age 11.
"We started thinking. We're like, 'Well, wouldn't that be cool if we had kids around that age, around that time that she had her realization, sort of participate in our project so we can teach them about Billie Jean King and her story?'" Husiak says.
The time for "She is King" seems to be now, as 2013 marked the 40th anniversary of Billie Jean's victory over Bobby Riggs in "The Battle of the Sexes," and President Barack Obama recently appointed King as one of the U.S. representatives for the Winter Olympics in Russia next month.
"That she's chosen now, today, this year to be a representative of our country I feel like really shows the influence and impact she has as a figure," Husiak says.
"She is King" is part of the Other Forces Theater Festival. The show is playing at the Incubator Arts Project now through January 26.