Directed by Tony Award nominee Lonny Price (110 in the Shade, Sweeney Todd, Company), Lady Day at Emerson's Bar and Grill began previews March 25 and opened to strong critical notices April 13 at Circle in the Square. Read the reviews here.
The Broadway production was originally scheduled as a limited, 10-week engagement. Lady Day extended for a fourth and final time through Oct. 5.
McDonald made Tony Awards history June 8, becoming the first woman to win Tony Awards in all four eligible acting categories. She now holds the record for the most Tony Award wins of any actor in competitive Tony categories.
The play also earned the Tony Award for Best Sound Design of a Play for Steven Canyon Kennedy.
A cast album of the play was recorded live by PS Classics and was released July 15. Watch the Performance That Won Audra McDonald Her Sixth Tony Award.
The 1959-set play, which centers on one of Billie Holiday's final public appearances, takes place in Philadelphia four months before the singer's death. The 90-minute show includes such songs as "God Bless the Child," "Strange Fruit," "What a Little Moonlight Can Do," "When a Woman Loves a Man," "Foolin' Myself," "Don't Explain," "Somebody's On My Mind," "Taint Nobody's Bizness," "Baby Doll" and more. A cast album is planned.
According to producers, "Lady Day at Emerson's Bar & Grill recounts Holiday's life story through the songs that made her famous. 1959, in a small, intimate bar in Philadelphia, Holiday puts on a show that unbeknownst to the audience, will leave them witnesses to one of the last performances of her lifetime. Through her poignant voice and moving songs, one of the greatest jazz singers of all-time shares her loves and her losses."
Lady Day has scenic design by James Noone, costume design by ESosa, lighting design by Robert Wierzel, sound design by Steven Canyon Kennedy, wig design and special makeup design by J. Jared Janas and Rob Greene. Orchestrations and musical arrangements are by Tim Weil.
Lady Day at Emerson's Bar and Grill premiered at the Alliance Theatre in Atlanta, GA, in the spring of 1986 prior to an Off-Broadway run at the Vineyard Theatre. Lonette McKee starred in the original Off-Broadway staging of the musical that has become a popular title for regional theatres.
McDonald also earned Tony Awards for her work in The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess, Carousel, Master Class, Ragtime and A Raisin in the Sun. Her work on stage also includes Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny with Patti LuPone, as well as Tony-nominated performances in 110 in the Shade and Marie Christine. On screen she has appeared in the television adaptations of "A Raisin in the Sun," "Wit" and "Annie." She is known to television audiences for "Private Practice" and "Grey's Anatomy."
Her solo albums include "Go Back Home" (2013), "Way Back to Paradise" (1998), "How Glory Goes" (2000), "Happy Songs" (2002) and "Build a Bridge" (2006).
Lady Day was produced by Jeffrey Richards, Jerry Frankel, Jessica Genick, and Will Trice, who are joined by Ronald Frankel, Rebecca Gold, Roger Berlind, Ken Greiner, Gabrielle Palitz, Irene Gandy and GFour Productions.