Her head scrunched down into her neck, her limbs relaxed and almost comatose, six-time Tony Award winner Audra McDonald brings her acclaimed portrayal of Billie Holiday in the Broadway smash Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill to home television screens. Filmed before a live audience at Cafe Brasil in New Orleans, the special features McDonald in her history-making, tour de force performance as the jazz icon. You have to see it to believe it which is why you will find an advance video below that captures her astounding and shape-shifting performance. The show premieres Saturday, March 12 at 9 PM on HBO.
McDonald will also be reprising her role in London’s West End from 25th June – 3rd September 2016 at WYNDHAMS THEATRE on Charing Cross Road. The performance runs 90 minutes without interval.
Originally written for off-Broadway by Lanie Roberston in 1987, Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill tells Holiday’s life story through the songs that made her famous, including “God Bless the Child,” “What a Little Moonlight Can Do,” “Strange Fruit” and “Taint Nobody’s Biz-ness.”
McDonald made history and became Broadway’s most decorated performer when she won her sixth Tony Award, for Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill, in 2014. In addition to setting the record for most competitive wins by an actor, she also became the first person to receive awards in all four acting categories. The show’s run at the Circle in the Square Theatre on Broadway was extended four times due to high demand.
Also the recipient of two Grammy Awards and an Emmy® Award, McDonald was named one of Time magazine’s 100 most influential people of 2015. Aside from her Tony-winning performances in Carousel, Master Class, Ragtime, A Raisin in the Sun, The Gershwins’ and Porgy and Bess McDonald has appeared on Broadway in The Secret Garden, Marie Christine (Tony nomination), Henry IV and 110 in the Shade (Tony nomination). McDonald returns to Broadway this year in Shuffle Along.
The Juilliard-trained soprano’s opera credits include La Voix Humaine and Send at the Houston Grand Opera and Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny at the Los Angeles Opera. McDonald also maintains a major career as a concert artist, regularly appearing on the great stages of the world and with leading international orchestras.
McDonald’s most recent TV appearances include playing the Mother Abbess in The Sound of Music Live! and Dr. Naomi Bennett on Private Practice. Her other TV credits include The Good Wife, Homicide: Life on the Street, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, Having Our Say: The Delany Sisters’ First 100 Years, The Bedford Diaries, Kidnapped and the 1999 remake of Annie.
She won an Emmy® Award for hosting PBS’s Live From Lincoln Center in 2015, having previously been nominated for A Raisin in the Sun and HBO’s Wit.
McDonald has appeared in such feature films as Seven Servants, The Object of My Affection, Cradle Will Rock, It Runs in the Family, The Best Thief in the World, She Got Problems, Rampart and, most recently, Ricki and the Flash.
Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill is directed by Lonny Price, who also directed the Broadway production, and produced by Allen Newman and Two Hands Entertainment. It was originally produced on Broadway by Jeffrey Richards, Jerry Frankel, Jessica Genick and Will Trice.