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Lady Day at Emerson's Bar and Grill
Erickson Theatre Off Broadway
Seattle, WA
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Lady Day at Emerson's Bar and Grill


Lady Day at Emerson's Bar & Grill
Opens Sep-11

Strawberry Theatre Workshop continues its three-year Biograph series with an intimate look at Billie Holiday.  Performed by Seattle soul singer Felicia V Loud, Lady Day at Emerson's Bar & Grill opens September 11 at the Erickson Theatre Off Broadway.  A limited run of fourteen performances continues through October 12.

The spirit of Billie Holiday could not be in better hands.  An accomplished actor known for her appearances at Intiman (Native Son and Crowns), Book-It (I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings), and Seattle Childrens Theatre (The Wizard of Oz), Loud played the role of Lady Day in a previous staging of the play at the Langston Hughes Center in 2004.  Audiences and critics have talked about the performance ever since.

With a voice of incredible richness and depth, Loud has long been considered the Northwest's premier soul singer.  She currently makes music with Black Stax, a three-person group with an injection of hip hop and 70s-era soul.  

Misha Berson wrote in The Seattle Times, "Once [Loud] gets to exercise her pipes, she is more than good--she's a wonder."

Charles Mudede was more effusive in The Stranger: "Look into my eyes, and watch as I say, Felicia Loud is the best female vocalist in the Pacific Northwest.  Notice how I didn't blink or flinch when making that bold claim?  How could I be so certain, so confident?  Because to say Felicia Loud is the best is to say these are my fingers or that is the sun or those are trees."

Lanie Robertson's Lady Day at Emerson's Bar and Grill was first produced Off-Broadway at the Vineyard Theatre in 1989, and has since played around the world.  Set in a seedy Philadelphia bar in the last year of Holiday's life, the play interlaces more than a dozen of Holiday's most poignant musical numbers--including "God Bless the Child" and "Strange Fruit"--with candid reminiscences that paint an indelible portrait of the artist and her music.

A seminal influence on jazz and pop singing, Holiday's vocal style, strongly inspired by jazz instrumentalists, pioneered a new way of manipulating phrasing and tempo.  Living only 44 years, she became as famous in the 1940s and 50s as much for her troubles as her singing.  But much of Holidays true biography remains popularly unknown.  She wrote a mostly invented autobiography called Lady Sings the Blues, which was made into an almost entirely fictional film starring Diana Ross in 1971.  The only authentic record is her music.  As critic Arthur Kempton said of her, "Billie left behind most of what there is to know of her authentic self in the grooves impressed into the shellac and vinyl on which her voice was preserved. Her recordings disclose the innate refinement of the street urchin who became an artist famously expressive of tender feeling."

With Lady Day, Strawberry Theatre Workshop seeks to tease her back to the stage, in part to continue its mission to create great opportunities for Seattles greatest actors.  The Biograph series has already included looks at the lives of Galileo Galilee, Leni Riefenstahl, and Joseph Merrick, among others.  But most importantly, these roles have been sought after by actors like David Pichette, Amy Thone, Timothy Hyland, and Alexandra Tavaresmuch more familiar to downtown audiences than the small theatre community on Capitol Hill.

The Strawshop production is directed by MJ Sieber, who recently played Merrick in The Elephant Man and directed The Water Engine for Strawshop in 2007.  Musical accompaniment for Lady Day is provided by Ryan Shea Smith, a pianist who has collaborated with Loud for many years, and percussion by LeNard Jones.  The production team includes Melanie Taylor Burgess, Heidi Ganser, Reed Nakayama, Luke Kehrwald, Zac Eckstein, Rashad Brown, Ieisha McIntyre, and Greg Carter.


Erickson Theatre Off Broadway
1524 Harvard Ave
Seattle, WA 98102
United States


Arts > Theatre

Kid Friendly: No
Dog Friendly: No
Non-Smoking: No
Wheelchair Accessible: No


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