Lady Day at Emerson's Bar and Grill, Starring Audra McDonald, Opens on Broadway April 13

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13 Apr 2014

Audra McDonald
Audra McDonald
Evgenia Eliseeva

Five-time Tony Award-winning actress Audra McDonald returns to Broadway as Billie Holiday in Lanie Robertson's play with music, Lady Day at Emerson's Bar and Grill, which officially opens April 13 at the Circle in the Square.

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. The Broadway production is a limited, 10-week engagement.

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. A cast album is planned.

McDonald is joined by Shelton Becton as pianist Jimmy Powers. The musical team also includes bassist George Farmer and drummer Clayton Craddock. Michael Keller is the music coordinator.

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 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 is produced by Jeffrey Richards, Jerry Frankel, and Jessica Genick, who will be joined by Will Trice, Ronald Frankel, Rebecca Gold, Roger Berlind, Ken Greiner, Gabrielle Palitz, Irene Gandy and GFour Productions.

For tickets visit Telecharge.com.

Visit ladydayonbroadway.com.

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Audra McDonald
Photo by Evgenia Eliseeva