What an absolutely incredible show. Audra McDonald becomes Billie Holiday. From the first moment she steps on the stage McDonald is Billie Holiday. The set is actually a night club. And there are actual audience members that are the audience in the club. The rest of us had to sit in regular seats.
About 15 minutes before the show actually starts a trio comes out and starts playing — Shelton Becton on piano, Clayton Craddock on drums and George Farmer on bass. They are execellent. And then suddenly McDonald is on stage.
From Entertainment Weekly:
The most remarkable aspect of McDonald’s performance comes at the very end, just after she exhales the last notes of the elegiac ‘’Deep Song.’’ Instead of retreating backstage before the curtain call, she remains at her microphone and the lights are dimmed before coming up again. And in the blink of that blackout, the actress transforms once more. The light and vitality return to her eyes, along with the familiar glow. It’s Audra McDonald before us now, accepting heartfelt thanks for one of the most exquisite and haunting performances we’re likely to see on stage this year.
From the Huffington Post:
She’s offering the superb vocalizing as Billie Holiday in Lanie Robertson’s Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill, and since this is a limited engagement, anyone who has an interest in seeing five-time Tony-winning McDonald give the performance of her career had better get to Circle in the Square pronto. Indeed, anyone with the slightest curiosity about hypnotic acting should leave for the venue this very minute.
These two reviews give a good idea of just how incredible McDonald is. It is also a very sad story of an incredible talent that died far too young.
It is also a performance that took my breath away. This becomes the fifth such performance I’ve been to since 2009 when I started going up to New York on the bus.
Here are the other performances with links to my post about them:
Exit the King
The Glass Menagerie