Lady Day filmed in front of a live audience at New Orleans' Cafe Brasil over the course of an eight day production schedule. Lonny Price, who helmed the Broadway production, directed for HBO.
An Exclusive First Look at Audra McDonald in HBO's Live Filming of Lady Day at Emerson's Bar and Grill
The HBO film, which has not set an air date, is produced by Allen Newman and Two Hands Entertainment with Executive Producers Jeff Rowland, Stewart Lane and Bonnie Comley.
"The great Audra McDonald's brilliant performance as the legendary Billie Holiday was a Broadway landmark," HBO programming president Michael Lombardo said in a statement. "I'm thrilled that we will be able to bring this riveting show to viewers who weren't able to experience it in person."
McDonald added, "Playing Billie Holiday in Lady Day at Emerson's Bar and Grill on Broadway was one of the most challenging and artistically rewarding experiences of my career, and it is an absolute honor to be able to bring Lanie's incredible work about this extraordinary woman to film, thanks to HBO." 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 Broadway production was originally scheduled as a limited, 10-week engagement. Lady Day extended for a fourth and final time through Oct. 5.
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.
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. 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."
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).
The Broadway production of 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.