The Verdict: Critics Review Audra McDonald in Lady Day at Emerson's Bar and Grill

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14 Apr 2014

Audra McDonald
Audra McDonald
Photo by 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 opened 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.

The critics have filed their reviews and has collected them for our readers. will continue to update our list as the reviews come in.


Associated Press

Entertainment Weekly

Hollywood Reporter

Huffington Post

Los Angeles Times

NBC New York


New York Daily News

New York Magazine/Vulture

New York Post

New York Times

Time Out New York

USA Today



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Audra McDonald in Lady Day at Emerson's Bar and Grill
Photo by Evgenia Eliseeva