Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill opened at the Circle in the Square Theatre April 13. Directed by Lonny Price, the play with music played 20 previews and 173 performances before closing October 5, 2014. The play earned two Tony Award nominations and won both: Best Actress in a Play for Audra McDonald’s performance as Billie Holliday and Best Sound Design of a Play. McDonald made Tony Awards history with her win, becoming the first woman to take home Tony Awards in all four eligible acting categories. She now holds the record for the most Tony Award wins of any actor in competitive Tony categories.
Written by Lanie Robertson, Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill recounts one of Billie Holliday’s last performances before her death, weaving in more than a dozen musical numbers in the play’s portrait of the singer.
McDonald preserved her performance when Lady Day at Emerson's Bar and Grill was filmed before a live audience at Cafe Brasil in New Orleans for HBO.
The production featured scenic design by James Noone, costume design by ESosa, lighting design by Robert Wierzel, and sound design by Steve Canyon Kennedy, with music direction by Shelton Becton (as Jimmy Powers).