Audra McDonald’s Lady Day hits West End

Reporter: Charlotte Marshall, first published Fri 15 Jan 2016 10:56

Six time Tony Award winner Audra McDonald will make her long awaited West End debut this summer when the hugely acclaimed Broadway hit Lady Day At Emerson’s Bar & Grill transfers to London for a strictly limited season.

McDonald, the only performer in Tony Award history to have won prizes in all four of the prestigious award’s acting categories, will reprise her critically revered role as legendary singer Billie Holiday at the Wyndham’s Theatre from 25 June to 3 September.

Written by Lanie Robertson and directed by Lonny Price, the fascinating production takes audiences on a journey through the history of one of the world’s most celebrated jazz performers.

Set in 1959 in an intimate bar in Philadelphia, Holiday puts on a show that unbeknownst to the crowd will leave them witnesses to one of the last performances of her lifetime. Through her poignant voice and moving songs including God Bless The Child, Strange Fruit and What A Little Moonlight Can Do, the singer shares her loves and her losses.   

The two-time Tony Award-winning production opened at New York’s Circle in the Square in 2014 when critics hailed McDonald’s performance as “One of the most exquisite and haunting performances of the year” (Entertainment Weekly).

The London transfer will offer UK audiences their first chance to see the Grammy and Emmy Award-winning performer on the West End stage following her incredible US career which has seen her win Tony Awards for roles in shows including Carousel, Master Class, Ragtime, A Raisin In The Sun and The Gershwins’ Porgy And Bess, find screen fame in medical drama Private Practice and earn a place on Time magazine’s list of 100 most influential people of 2015.

McDonald is also a celebrated concert performer and a lucky group of London fans will have the chance to see her perform prior to Lady Day At Emerson’s Bar & Grill this weekend when she performs two sold out concerts at the Leicester Square Theatre.

Lady Day At Emerson’s Bar & Grill will follow two other hugely successful transfers in the Wyndham’s, as the Royal Court Theatre’s Hangmen continues its run until 5 March to be followed by the National Theatre’s five star hit People, Places And Things from 15 March.