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  Play Details

Lady Day at Emerson's Bar and Grill

Stage 773
1225 W Belmont Ave Chicago

A seedy bar, Philadelphia, 1959. When the customers leave and the doors are locked, the lights go down and the show really starts. Witness one of last performances of the world’s greatest chanteuse, Miss Billie Holiday, intimately given four months before the passing of this tragic musical superstar. With her stellar jazz trio, she revisits her life, loves and losses in more than a dozen quintessential, thrilling and gut-wrenching numbers. It’s a salty, sensual, often humorous, and always riveting portrait of the legendary lady and her legacy of music.

Thru - Mar 10, 2013



Price: $41

Show Type: Musical

Box Office: 773-327-5252

Running Time: 1hr, 30mins

www.porchlightmusictheatre.org


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  Lady Day at Emerson's Bar and Grill Reviews

Chicago Tribune - Recommended

"...The material also requires the singer to interact with her piano player (the show features a three-piece combo including Michael Weatherspoon on percussion and Chris Thigpen on bass). That complex, interdependent relationship is tricky to pull off. Jaret Landon, who plays delightfully, tends to give back to Rogers mostly laconic neutrality. That works some of the time - thanks also to Jeffrey D. Kmiec's ideal set, this is a very cool show - but there are moments when it is not enough."
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Chris Jones


Chicago Sun Times - Highly Recommended

"...It takes barely a bar or two before the spell has been cast. The unique timbre, intonation, phrasing, color and, most crucially, the abiding anguish that marked Holiday's singing are all there. Yet Rogers is no mimic. Rather, she has somehow managed to crawl right into Holiday's psyche and reactivate the voice in a way that should dazzle even the most fervent devotees. And she brilliantly sustains this miracle for the next 90 minutes as she takes us through one set at the Philadelphia bar where Holiday has been able to find work."
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Hedy Weiss


Centerstage - Highly Recommended

"...As audiences file into the Theatre 773 (tastefully designed by Jeffrey D. Kmiec to resemble Philadelphia's Emerson's Bar & Grill,1959), Billie Holiday is being pampered and encouraged by her musicians in her tiny backstage dressing room. This midnight performance will be remembered as one of the artist's final public concerts. Miss Holiday's life, filled with pain, prejudice and powerful performances, is detailed in the artist's between-song patter. The result is a 90-minute evening that entertains, enlightens and touches the audience's hearts."

Colin Douglas


Time Out Chicago - Recommended

"..,As the concert-cum-narrative continues, Holiday slips into a drug-fueled haze; the wistful monologues work better as the ramblings of a heroin addict than stage banter with her three-piece band. Rogers does phenomenal work depicting the singer’s loosening grip on reality, music becoming a tether to the present as her mind drifts into the past. The vocals are spot-on, but Rogers is more than just a great mimic. Glassy eyes turn fiercely engaged when she sings, and she captures the gravelly quality of Holiday’s voice as well as the emotional fragility beneath the surface. Holiday states that music is the most important thing in her life. Rogers’s performance makes clear it’s the only thing keeping her alive."
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Oliver Sava


Stage and Cinema - Recommended

"...Rogers, who must overcome a tendency to mumble and slur her words to depict Billie's tailspin, does more than just impersonate: Mirroring the typically rocky, often unfinished, concerts that Holiday choked out before her drug demise, Robertson's script also drops her into a heroin hell. Rogers pours that breakdown into the one force that can contain it - the songs. Where "What A Little Moonlight Can Do," sung early on, seems dangerously animated after Billie shoots smack (her "moonlight"), "'Tain't Nobody's Biz-Ness If I Do" takes on a special defiance."
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Lawrence Bommer


ChicagoCritic - Highly Recommended

"...we are moved to our core with the gut-wrenching numbers. This is a salty, sad, and sensational portrait of Lady Day as Billie Holiday was affectionately know. Get to Stage 773 to hear the legendary lady sing. You'll be glad you did."
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Tom Williams


Around The Town Chicago - Recommended

"...Directed by Rob Lindley ( a cabaret performer himself), we get the sense that this return home to Philly may be her last. As it turned out, it was four months later that she passed away, so this biography was written not only to honor her, but to tell her story. While the musicians and Ms Rogers are amazing, the story may be a bit to wordy. During the performance, many audience members looked to their watches- perhaps a few more songs and a little le history would have made a difference, but each and every member of the audience rose to give Ms Rogers a standing ovation, which was rewarded with another song. Fourteen glorious songs, performed to perfection by Ms. Rogers, one of Chicago's finest talents truly makes this a memorable experience and we get a little Black History as well."
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Alan Bresloff


Huffington Post - Highly Recommended

"...In Porchlight's seductive and sobering production of Lanie Robertson's Lady Day at Emerson's Bar & Grill, the moment Alexis J. Rogers makes her reluctant entrance, drink in hand, you know you're in for a turbulent ride. Rogers, channeling the singular jazz singer Billie Holiday, known by her fans as "Lady Day," simply captivates in the central role of this primarily one-woman showcase. And when Rogers opens her mouth to croon out Johnny Mercer's "When a Woman Loves a Man": goosebumps. True, while Rogers may give off the vibe of being a decade too young for the role in this play, which captures Holiday during the last months of her life -- a life filled with partying, prison time and personal tragedy -- she captures the artist's hard-worn spirit with fearlessness and honesty. In short: Rogers is Billie Holiday."
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Robert Bullen


   This show has been Jeff Recommended*

*The designation of "Jeff Recommended" is given to a production when at least ONE ELEMENT of the show was deemed outstanding by the opening night judges of The Joseph Jefferson Awards Committee. The entire production is then eligible for nomination for awards at the end of the season.
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