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Audra McDonald Will Bring Her Tony-Winning Billie Holiday to HBO

The network is set to film the drama Lady Day at Emerson's Bar & Grill.

Audra McDonald will bring her Billie Holiday to HBO.
(© Joan Marcus)

Audra McDonald will re-create her record-setting sixth Tony-winning performance as Billie Holiday in an upcoming HBO film adaptation of Lanie Robertson's drama Lady Day at Emerson's Bar & Grill.

Lonny Price, who directed McDonald in the Broadway production earlier this year at the Circle in the Square Theatre, returns to helm the small-screen version, which will be filmed in front of a live audience at Cafe Brasil in New Orleans later this month.

Set in 1959 at a seedy Philadelphia bar, the play with music 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.

Lady Day at Emerson's Bar & Grill began previews March 25 and was initially set to play 70 performances during a 10-week limited engagement. It officially closed after 20 previews and 173 performances on October 5. McDonald was joined onstage by a jazz trio led by Sheldon Beckton and a canine named Roxie.

No air date for Lady Day has yet been announced.

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