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Audra McDonald to play Billie Holiday on Broadway

Feb. 25, 2014 at 10:32 PM   |   Comments

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NEW YORK, Feb. 25 (UPI) -- Five-time Tony-winner Audra McDonald is to play jazz great Billie Holiday in the Broadway premiere of Lanie Robertson's "Lady Day at Emerson's Bar & Grill."

The musical play is to be directed by Lonny Price and will begin rehearsals March 10, producers announced Tuesday.

Previews are to start March 25 at Manhattan's Circle in the Square Theatre for a strictly limited 10-week engagement, with only 70 performances.

Opening night is set for April 13.

"'Lady Day at Emerson's Bar & Grill' recounts Holiday's life story through the songs that made her famous," a synopsis said. "1959, in a small, intimate bar in Philadelphia, Holiday puts on a show that unbeknownst to the audience, will leave them witnesses to one of the last performances of her lifetime. Through her poignant voice and moving songs, one of the greatest jazz singers of all-time shares her loves and her losses."

The production will feature the songs "God Bless the Child," "What a Little Moonlight Can Do," "Strange Fruit" and "Taint Nobody's Biz-ness."

Price previously directed McDonald in "110 in the Shade" for the Roundabout Theatre Company. He also directed her in both "Sweeney Todd" with the New York Philharmonic and "Passion" as part of Lincoln Center's American Songbook series, the latter of which was telecast on PBS' "Live From Lincoln Center."

"Lady Day at Emerson's Bar & Grill" is being produced by Jeffrey Richards and Jerry Frankel.

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