Six-time Tony Award winner Audra McDonald will bring her acclaimed portrayal of Billie Holiday in the Broadway smash "Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill" to HBO, it was announced today by Michael Lombardo, president, HBO Programming.
Filming before a live audience at Cafe Brasil in New Orleans this month, the special will feature McDonald in her history-making, tour de force performance as the jazz icon. Originally written for off-Broadway by Lanie Roberston in 1987, "Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill" tells Holiday’s life story through the songs that made her famous, including "God Bless the Child," "What a Little Moonlight Can Do," "Strange Fruit" and "Taint Nobody’s Biz-ness."
"The great Audra McDonald’s brilliant performance as the legendary Billie Holiday was a Broadway landmark," said Lombardo. "I’m thrilled that we will be able to bring this riveting show to viewers who weren’t able to experience it in person."
"Playing Billie Holiday in ‘Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill’ on Broadway was one of the most challenging and artistically rewarding experiences of my career, and it is an absolute honor to be able to bring Lanie’s incredible work about this extraordinary woman to film, thanks to HBO," says McDonald.
McDonald made history and became Broadway’s most decorated performer when she won her sixth Tony Award for "Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill" earlier this year. In addition to setting the record for most competitive wins by an actor, she also became the first person to receive awards in all four acting categories. The show’s run at the Circle in the Square Theatre on Broadway was extended four times due to high demand.
"Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill" will be directed by Lonny Price, who also directed the Broadway production, and produced by Allen Newman and Two Hands Entertainment. It was originally produced on Broadway by Jeffrey Richards, Jerry Frankel, Jessica Genick and Will Trice.