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Lady Day at Emerson's Bar & Grill With Audra McDonald Sets March HBO Broadcast Date

The play with music that won McDonald her record-breaking sixth Tony Award will come to the small screen.

Audra McDonald as Billie Holiday in Lanie Robertson's Lady Day at Emerson's Bar & Grill, directed by Lonny Price, at the Circle in the Square Theatre.
(© Evgenia Eliseeva)

Audra McDonald will bring her Tony-winning portrayal of Billie Holiday in Lanie Robertson's Lady Day at Emerson's Bar & Grill to HBO, with an exclusive presentation scheduled to debut Saturday, March 12. Filmed before a live audience at Cafe Brasil in New Orleans, the special will feature McDonald in performance as the jazz icon. McDonald won her record-breaking sixth Tony Award for the Broadway production of the play with music.

Set in 1959 at a seedy Philadelphia bar, the play relives Holiday's last performance, taking place only four months before her death at age 44. The show's musical numbers include "God Bless the Child," "What a Little Moonlight Can Do," "Strange Fruit," and "'Tain't Nobody's Business If I Do." The production made its New York debut off-Broadway at the Vineyard Theatre in 1986 and has since gone on to tour the world.

The Broadway production of Lady Day at Emerson's Bar & Grill opened April 13, 2014 and after several extensions closed on October 5, 2014. McDonald was joined onstage by a jazz trio led by Shelton Becton as well as by a Chihuahua named Roxie.

Lady Day at Emerson's Bar & Grill was directed by Lonny Price and originally produced on Broadway by Jeffrey Richards, Jerry Frankel, Jessica Genick, and Will Trice.

The special will also be available on HBO NOW and HBO GO.