Lady Day, Starring Dee Dee Bridgewater, Closes Earlier Than Expected
By Andrew Gans
Lady Day, which featured Tony and multiple Grammy Award winner Dee Dee Bridgewater as the late, legendary jazz artist Billie Holiday, played its final performance at the Little Shubert Theatre Dec. 22. The musical production had been announced to end its run Jan. 5, 2014.
The production, which officially opened Oct. 3 following previews that began Sept. 19, played a total of 16 previews and 94 regular performances.
Joining Bridgewater in the musical biography were David Ayers as Robert, Billie Holiday's manager; and Rafael Poueriet as the assistant stage manager; with bass player Jim Cammack, saxophone player Neil Johnson, drummer Jerome Jennings and pianist Bill Jolly in the speaking roles of the onstage musicians.
Written and directed by Stephen Stahl, Lady Day made its New York debut having been produced at the Theatre de Boulogne-Billancourt and Theatre du Gymnase Marie Bell in Paris as well as The Donmar Warehouse and The Piccadilly Theatre in London, where it received critical praise and garnered an Olivier nomination for Bridgewater.
Produced by Misty Road Productions, the show's creative team also included three-time Emmy Award-winning composer and arranger Jolly, who also served as musical director.
An original play with music based on the life of Billie Holiday, Lady Day, according to press notes, "features a cavalcade of Holiday hit songs and tells the inspired and heart-wrenching story of how Billie attempts a final comeback performance." With a newly revised book by Stahl, the production features over 25 standards, including "Don't Explain," "Good Morning Heartache," "A Foggy Day (In London Town)," "Them There Eyes," "Strange Fruit," "My Man," "God Bless the Child" and "Mean to Me."
The production also featured set design by Beowulf Boritt, costume design by Patricia A. Hibbert, lighting design by Ryan O’Gara, sound design by Jason Crystal and video projections by DIVE Visuals.
Dee Dee Bridgewater has received nine Grammy Award nominations and three wins: Best Jazz Vocal Album for "Dear Ella," Best Arrangement Accompanying a Vocal for "Cotton Tail" (from "Dear Ella") and the 2011 Grammy for Best Jazz Vocal Album for "Eleanora Fagan (1915-1959): To Billie With Love From Dee Dee." She won her Tony for her performance as Glinda, the Good Witch, in The Wiz. Bridgewater serves as UN Goodwill Ambassador for the FAO and is host of NPR's nationally syndicated radio program "JazzSet with Dee Dee Bridgewater."
For more information visit ladydaythemusical.com.
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