For ninety minutes Audra McDonald transforms herself into one of the greatest jazz singers of all time---the magnificent Billie Holiday, "Lady Day". At first I was reluctant to see this show thinking it would simply be a musical review of Billie Holiday songs. Then I remembered how much I enjoyed Ms. McDonald's performance in the revival of Porgy and Bess and considered going but didn't. However two weeks ago I saw an off Broadway production, "Shades of Blue-The Decline and Fall of Billie Holiday"written and directed by one of our most talented young playwrights Steven McCasland. It was such a great production and so well researched and written that it made me yearn to find out more about this wonderfully talented and horribly abused woman. The setting of Lady Day is a little dive bar in North Philadelphia where Billie Holiday is giving one of her last performances before she died. At first you can tell she had been drinking and was tipsy but as the night progressed she turned into a stumbling slurring drunk. About three quarters into her performance Billie states she doesn't feel that good and goes back stage "to get some medicine"only to come back a few minutes later with one of her long gloves pulled down and needle tracks in her arm. One thing the play did not convey which I learned from Steven McCasland was that Billie Holiday died in a Harlem hospital arrested and still handcuffed to a hospital bed for possession of narcotics. Yes she had a tragic and abused (self and otherwise) life. One can see this in Ms. McDonald's brilliant performance and oh that sweet voice! Audra McDonald sings the Lady's songs with the same verve and inflections as Billie Holiday herself. What a talent! Great songs, great performance, brilliant singing--how could you go wrong? A must see!
Opened Apr 13, 2014
I love Billie Holiday. Dee Dee Bridgewaters recent show at the Little Shubert Theatre was great. I felt like I was at a Billy Holiday Show! Well, here we go again. I've seen Audra in a few shows and am a big fan. She's an amazing singer. I wasnt sure if she'd be a great Billie, but yes indeed, I once again felt like I was at a Billie Holiday performance. I very much enjoyed hearing all of Ms Holiday's hits, and the banter and stories inbetween songs was very funny, well, most of the time, a few times its just tragic, but that's the story isn't it. If I were you, I'd go see this show. I see they've just extended it thru August to get the summer tourist crowds. That must mean tickets have been selling like hotcakes. Excellent show Audra!!!! You are doing a fierce job girl!