30 years ago, a little play debuted at the alliance theatre in Atlanta Georgia, then it was almost forgotten for many years. It was only in the last few years that it began to be remembered when Audra McDonald stepped into the role of Billie Holiday in this thrilling and heartbreakingly beautiful show and took every award by storm. Garnering Mrs. McDonald a Tony, a Drama Desk and an Outer Critics Circle Award, and she is about to do it all over again across the pond in the West End debut of this one woman musical.
The Story of Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill is based on a true story of Billie Holiday’s last public performance at a small bar in Philadelphia called “Emerson’s Bar and Grill.” The show is a love letter to an icon, that is pickled and soaked in the tragedy of a woman pushed past the point of no return. Through the show which is more of a cabaret act than a musical or play “Lady Day” weaves the story of her heartbreaking rise to fame and the subsequent fall from grace. Billie Holiday having been to prison for Drug charges twice and her tumultuous relationships with violent men and her drug and alcohol addictions is struggling to survive and make a living at this point in her life is barely able to stand much less finish a song. It is this conflict between the star and the addict that makes this show so tragic and yet so beautiful.
Zach Theatre is making the regional debut of this fantastic show filled with history, music and the portrait of one of America’s greatest voices. In the only and leading role of the show is CHANEL as the one and only “Lady Day.” Chanel give a performance that is unparalleled in its authenticity, and its love and respect for the source material. This Austin diva gives new life to Billie Holiday’s legend with spot on vocal impersonations. From the moment, she enters the room you cannot take your eyes off CHANEL. This actress extraordinaire has done her homework and shows that imitation is the highest form of flattery. CHANEL is Billie Holiday.
The entire team at Zach has worked together to create a truly immersive experience where you feel that you have stepped back to 1959 and into a delightful nightclub in the heart of Philadelphia. The scenic design and costume design by Michelle Ney is unbelievably gorgeous. Fabric draped across the stage gives a romantic feel that puts you in the mood to fall in love before the show even starts. And CHANEL looks stunning as Lady Day in her white sculpted gown encrusted with jewels. The lighting design by Rachel Atkinson adds feeling and emotion to the show and creates a tension in moments that takes the story right over the edge.
There is nothing about this production that should be changed! If you don’t have your tickets to this show go now before you miss your opportunity This is a show you will remember forever!
Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill runs through April 30th at Austin’s Theatre – ZACH. For more information and tickets log on to http://www.zachtheatre.org