Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill (review)

Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill (review)
Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill (review)
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THE PLAY: Jazz singer Billie Holiday gives an intimate concert, interspersing songs with a personalized perspective on her difficult life and mercurial career.


THE PRODUCTION: A one-person show about a real person demands that the actor embody the essence of that character, both in voice and manner. Katrinah Carol Lewis created the strung-out singer with captivating empathy and vulnerable swagger. Her performance started slightly awkward (which may have been intentional or opening night jitters), but warmed up comfortably to a moving climax. Director Deejay Gray’s subtle hand let the Lady stand out, although there was one jarring misjudgment: the songs are sung into a non-working microphone, so the subtlety of her vocalization was drowned out by the piano (played ably by Larri Branch, although some of his flourishes were clunky). Matthew Bauserman created a simple, elegant nightclub stage, Michael Jarett’s lighting rounded out the club effect, while adding emotional support and McLean Jesse’s costume was lovely, even though its length sometime challenged Lewis’ mobility. CORRECTION: I was informed by the theatre that the mic does indeed work, but the mix was off on opening nite.


THE POINT: Katrinah Carol Lewis is nuanced and compelling in a career defining performance.


4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)


A TheatreLab production at The Basement thru 12/12




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Katrinah Carol Lewis (photo by Birgitte Tingley)

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