It may have been postponed last year due to her pregnancy, but Audra McDonald has finally arrived on our shores to make her West End debut in LADY DAY AT EMERSON'S BAR & GRILL. The six-time Tony Award winner (a record number, the latest of which was for this show), who plays legendary jazz singer Billie Holiday in the musical play has been astonishing fans and critics alike and we can understand why.
Ann Treneman: "Lanie Robertson wrote this astonishing play after a boyfriend told him that he had seen Billie Holiday in 1959 in “a little dive” in north Philadelphia. Holiday stumbled in “quite high”, carrying her chihuahua and a glass full of booze. She and her piano player performed a dozen or so songs for an audience of seven people before staggering back out. “The image of the world’s greatest jazz singer being so undervalued is an image that has always haunted me,” says Robertson..."
Paul Taylor: "McDonald is absolutely astonishing. Her luscious, classically-trained soprano is, ordinarily, a far cry from Billie Holiday’s jazz sound. But here she pulls off a quite uncanny impersonation of that plaintive voice with its eccentric intonation patterns, its catches, side-of-the-mouth slides and leaps of register..."
Alice Saville: "It’s fundamentally a pretty strange spectacle to engineer, mixing the sumptuousness of a plushy theatre-turned-cabaret bar, and even more so of McDonald’s sumptuous voice, with a narrative that stresses the comfortless reality of Holiday’s life..."
Dominic Cavendish: "When McDonald warbles as Lady Day, it’s as if she’s pouring divine nectar into your ears; here, beautifully modulated, is all the playfulness, mischief, yearning, sadness and stoicism to be found in those crackling recordings of long ago..."
Selina Begum: "Dressed in a white gown sparkling with diamante, and white elbow-length gloves, McDonald’s entrance transports us to the music scene of the 1950s. The ambience is flawless as she sings I Wonder Where Our Love Has Gone – filled with the emotion of Holiday’s singing style, it’s as if we have travelled back in time to the dive bars of America..."
WATCH: Perry O'Bree interviews Audra McDonald at Lady Day...
StageFaves Perry O'Bree and Terri Paddock attended the West End premiere of Lady Day at Emerson's Bar & Grill, starring Broadway superstar Audra McDonald making her West End debut. After the show, Perry talked to the six-time Tony Award winner about playing Billie Holliday and what she has in common with chihuahua co-star Tilly... Get social, production shots and more on the show's #StageFaves page.