Pop culture, entertainment & all things Fresno

Audra update: Stellar reviews for ‘Lady Day’


Another Audra McDonald opening on Broadway, another round of stellar reviews. McDonald’s “Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill” opened Sunday at the Circle in the Square theater for a limited run, and critics showered Fresno’s favorite Broadway star with raves. I liked this one from the Los Angeles Times:

When one recalls Holiday’s sublimely ruined sound at the end of her career, the period in which Lanie Robertson’s concert drama is set, one doesn’t think of McDonald’s soaring, Juilliard-burnished soprano, a gold medal voice still in its athletic prime.

But from the moment McDonald takes the microphone, a metamorphosis more striking than any in Ovid occurs. Gone is the shimmering operatic prowess that powered through “Summertime” in “The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess,” the last of McDonald’s Tony-winning performances. In its place are Holiday’s distinctive jazz timing and idiosyncratic phrasing, qualities as singular as fingerprints.

I’ve always thought that McDonald had such a distinctive voice that I could recognize her signature style in a nano-second, but, once again, she rises to the occasion.

Here’s what the New York Times has to say. has a roundup of major reviews. And has a great photo gallery from opening night, including McDonald accepting flowers, above.

“Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill” plays through June 1, so plan those New York trips soon.

Responses to "Audra update: Stellar reviews for ‘Lady Day’"

Jim Wilson says:

I attended Audra McDonald’s performance as Billie Holliday this past weekend in New York and was completely blown away by the way she transformed her more operatic voice into the jazz/blues tinged style of Lady Day. And she did it not only in the songs, but in her talks about Billie’s career and pitfalls. By the time she had completed her stories while easing her pains with alcohol, McDonald revealed a troubled character who sought outside assistance to help her get through her short life. It was a strong performance that should earn McDonald’s her record breaking sixth Tony Award as Best Actress in this drama-with-music.

Donald Munro says:

Thanks for the thoughts on Audra’s performance, Jim. Sounds wonderful!

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