Audra McDonald to Play Billie Holiday in Broadway's Lady Day at Emerson's Bar and Grill

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25 Feb 2014

Audra McDonald
Audra McDonald
Photo by Autumn de Wilde

Five-time Tony Award-winning actress Audra McDonald will return to Broadway as Billie Holiday in Lanie Robertson's play with music, Lady Day at Emerson's Bar and Grill, which will begin performances March 25 at Circle in the Square.

Circle in the Square is currently home to Bronx Bombers, which will conclude its run March 2. Lady Day at Emerson's Bar and Grill will officially open April 13, according to the official website for the production.

Directed by Tony Award nominee Lonny Price (110 in the Shade, Sweeney Todd, Company), the Broadway production will be a limited, 10-week engagement. Jeffrey Richards and Jerry Frankel produce.

The 1959-set play, which centers on one of 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."



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 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).

Tickets go on sale to members of the general public March 6 at Telecharge.com. Audience Reward members will have an exclusive pre-sale from March 3-5.

Visit ladydayonbroadway.com.