Audra McDonald has just scored another major triumph, this time as Billie Holiday in Lanie Robertson’s musical play Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill. The Associated Press raved: “One of the supreme honors this Broadway season is to go to Circle in the Square, close your eyes and hear a ghost…If a voice has DNA, McDonald has cracked the code for Lady Day’s,” while the Los Angeles Times noted that “from the moment McDonald takes the microphone, a metamorphosis more striking than any in Ovid occurs. Gone is the shimmering operatic prowess that powered through “Summertime” in The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess, the last of McDonald’s Tony-winning performances. In its place are Holiday’s distinctive jazz timing and idiosyncratic phrasing, qualities as singular as fingerprints.”
The New York Times hailed Audra’s ability to “sing selections from Holiday’s repertoire with sensitive musicianship and rich seams of feeling that command rapt admiration,” and the Huffington Post stated: “The most exquisite singing being done on a New York City stage right now is Audra McDonald delivering “God Bless the Child” at Circle in the Square. It’s stunning, it’s heartbreaking. If there’s anything available even better at the moment, it’s McDonald again, this time singing “Strange Fruit.” The anguish and fury in it is heart stopping.”
Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill is in limited run through June 1 at the Circle and Square Theater. Purchase your seats here.