Review: LADY DAY AT EMERSON'S BAR & GRILL at Phoenix Theatre

The production runs through November 26, 2023.

By: Sep. 10, 2023
Review: LADY DAY AT EMERSON'S BAR & GRILL at Phoenix Theatre
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The intimate setting of Judith Hardes Theatre at Phoenix Theatre Company perfectly hosts LADY DAY AT EMERSON’S BAR & GRILL, one act of pure WOW! directed by Chanel Bragg.

This flawless production captivates the audience as Yolanda London channels Billie Holiday, mesmerizing the house as Lady Day shares the highlights and tragedies of her life, family, travels, and career. The Phoenix audience is quickly transported to Emerson’s Bar and Grill in late 1950s Philadelphia.

The mood of the times, and the jazz and blues tones, mesh with the ambience in and around the audience. Indeed, the Phoenix audience becomes the Philly audience while “Lady Day” fondly laughs and teases Em, the owner, off stage. She warmly greets the house and the fabulous ensemble onstage, and from her initial entrance to the end, we begin to understand the complexities of the incomparable Billie Holiday.

This achingly beautiful rendition includes adult themes and language – it is, after all, a nightclub.

Live on stage, pianist Deryk George leads the three-piece jazz ensemble, with percussionist Terry “LT” Green and bassist Wallace Steele. Lady Day sees her musicians and muses, ancestors and artists, as part and parcel of her story, and this show balances the stories and the performance itself as seamlessly as the music and lyrics flow.

True to the emotional range and talent of Lady Day, Yolanda London’s performance is beyond great. It is perfect. This fabulous show ends November 26, 2023, offering shows on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday evenings, with matinee and evening shows on Saturdays and Sundays.


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