Award-winning Billie Holiday Musical Opens Friday At Kalamazoo’s Farmers Alley
"Long-awaited" is a term often thrown around, but in this case, a musical play about the life of the legendary Billie Holiday, it really has been more than a couple of years of waiting, due to Covid. Farmers Alley Theatre and the Gilmore Piano Festival are finally able to put on the Tony-Award-winning play, Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill. The show runs from this Friday, April 29th through May 15th.
Some will be familiar with Holiday's life and/or her music, but for many, they may have heard the name Billie Holiday, but may not know much more than that about the performer, nicknamed Lady Day, who died in 1959 at the very young age of 44.
Farmers Alley is doing a lot of extras to make audiences feel like they’ve taken a step back in time, to a 50’s jazz club in Pennsylvania – and that means the return of a lobby bar, too.
There's also the story behind "Strange Fruit", the song most associated with Holiday. It was also the most personal to the singer, having to do with racism and a lynching.
(prokoman1 via YouTube)
“Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill might be our most anticipated production of all-time, considering we had planned to produce it in the spring of 2020, right after the start of the pandemic. Luckily, with the light at the end of the tunnel shining and our magnificently talented artists still in place, we’re able to bring Billie Holiday’s story to our audience.” - Farmers Alley Managing Artistic Director Jeremy Koch
Taking on the role of Holiday is Joseph Jefferson Award (Chicago's equivalent to a Tony Award) winning Chicago actress Alexis J Roston. Rolston has earned positive reviews from publication like Time Out Chicago, which called her ”phenomenal” and Showbiz Chicago said “Roston holds the audience in the palm of her hand,” Abdul Hamid Royal, a Broadway veteran, is the production’s Music Director and plays Lady Day’s pianist, Jimmy.
Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill runs for three weekends from April 29-May 15. Tickets are $44 on Fri/Sat/Sun and $39 on Thursdays. Student ticket pricing is $15 for all shows. Tickets are available for purchase at www.farmersalleytheatre.com or by calling the Box Office at (269) 343-2727.