Audra McDonald Set to Star in ‘Lady Day At Emerson’s Bar & Grill’
By Mark Kennedy
NEW YORK — Audra McDonald will return to Broadway this spring singing the blues as Billie Holiday.
Producers said that the five-time Tony Award-winner will star in Lanie Robertson’s “Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill,” a musical that imagines one of Holiday’s last performances in 1959.
Previews begin March 25 at the Circle in the Square Theatre and opening night is set for April 13. The venue will allow some lucky members of the audience to sit at tables onstage.
Her new show, to be directed by Lonny Price, puts an ailing Holiday in a small club in Philadelphia and lets McDonald sing such timeless classics as “Somebody’s On My Mind,” ”Don’t Explain” and “Strange Fruit.”
McDonald spent four seasons on TV’s “Private Practice” and won her fifth Tony Award for “The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess.” She won raves as Mother Superior in the recent live NBC special “The Sound of Music” with Carrie Underwood. She released her fifth solo album, “Go Back Home,” last summer.
She won three Tony Awards before the age of 30 — for “Carousel,” ”Master Class” and “Ragtime” — a fourth in 2004 for “A Raisin in the Sun” and a fifth for “The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess.” She also has two Grammy Awards.