Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill

written by Lanie Robertson
directed by Summer L. Williams
MainStage Theater
MAR 28-APR 19/2020

Lady Day At Emerson’s Bar and Grill
a biographical play with iconic music
by Lanie Robertson

Lady Day has been POSTPONED until the fall due to the effects of COVID-19. Please click here for more information.

It’s 1959 in a bar in South Philadelphia for one of Billie Holiday’s final performances before her untimely death. At an intimate evening with Billie and her pianist, Holiday’s most famous songs are interlaced with reminiscences from her life, told with her unique, salty humor. Featuring “What a Little Moonlight Can Do” and “Strange Fruit”, this biographical play with music by Lanie Robertson tells the incredible story of an icon who consistently battled racism, abuse, and addiction for her chance to sing.

Running Time: 90 minutes, no intermission
Lydia Harrell**

Billie Holiday

Lydia Harrell**

Billie Holiday

Lydia Harrell (Billie Holiday) is one of Boston’s finest musical treasures. Her sultry, soulful voice and evocative songwriting have garnered her the attention and respect of the nation’s finest musicians and venues. Jazz/Soul is where her heart is, however, Lydia has shown an unbreakable ability to mold herself into any musical situation. Be it performing with the Boston Pops, serenading NBA fans with America’s National Anthem, or lending her vocal talents to a chart-topping deep house singles by British record label, Reel People Music, Lydia’s dedication to extracting the pure essence of song goes virtually unmatched.

Lydia consistently performs in more than 150 shows a year not only as a solo act, but also in collaborations with other artists such as world renowned jazz musician, Bobby Floyd and as one-half of the duo “The Lady Parts” providing backing vocals for Zap Mama, Ryan Montbleau, Albert Cummings and more. Her most recent musical accolades include singing lead on a Bob Marley Tribute Album distributed by Sony Music Latin, winning the 2015 Duke Ellington Jazz Vocal Competition, performing at the Apollo Theater in Harlem, NYC (2016) and winning the 2017 Mid-Atlantic Jazz Festival Voice Competition.

Lydia is also an actor that has been seen in several regional and national commercials, billboards, short films and theatre productions. She starred in her first Boston 48 Hour Film Project and won Best Original song for the song she wrote “I Am Beautiful”.

David Freeman Coleman

Jimmy Powers

David Freeman Coleman

Jimmy Powers

David Freeman Coleman (Jimmy Powers/Music Director) makes his New Repertory Theatre debut with this production of Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill. Past music direction credits include Choir Boy (SpeakEasy Stage), Miss You Like Hell (Company One/A.R.T.), Mad Moon (Emerson College), Cabaret (Boston Children’s Theater), The Wiz (Eastern Nazarene College). Associate Music Director Best of Both Worlds (A.R.T.) and Violet (SpeakEasy Stage). He has served as the rehearsal pianist for the Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess, Crossing, We Live in Cairo, (A.R.T.). David has worked with Audra McDonald, Bobby McFerrin, Mariah Carey, Patti LaBelle, Ryan Gosling and Phish. He has performed at Carnegie Hall, the Vatican, and the White House. He is a recipient of New England Urban Music Awards and Thomas Dorsey Award from New England Conservatory. David earned a M.A. in Composition from Tufts University and a B.M. in Piano & Composition from Boston University. David is Director of Choral Music at Dana Hall School in Wellesley, MA, and Lecturer of Music & Director of Gospel Choir at Tufts University. Originally from Memphis, TN, he currently resides in Norfolk, MA.

Creative Team
Summer L. Williams, Director
Summer L. Williams

Director

Summer L. Williams (Director) is a Co-Founder and Associate Artistic Director of Company One Theatre in Boston, and award-winning director. Her most recent directing credits include Wolf Play at Company One Theatre, School Girls, or The African Mean Girls Play at SpeakEasy Stage Company, Miss You Like Hell by Quiara Alegría Hudes and Erin McKeown with Company One Theatre and OBERON at American Repertory Theater, the World Premiere of Leftovers by Josh Wilder with Company One Theatre, Wig Out! by Tarell Alvin McCraney with Company One and OBERON at A.R.T.; Smart People at Kitchen Theatre Company in Ithaca, NY and Geva Theater in Rochester, NY; Barbecue at Lyric Stage Company of Boston—Winner of the 2018 Elliot Norton Award for Outstanding Director; Revolt. She Said. Revolt Again. at Company One Theatre; Bootycandy at SpeakEasy Stage Company; An Octoroon and Colossal with Company One Theatre—Winner of the 2016 Elliot Norton Award for Outstanding Director for both productions.

Regional credits: Intimate Apparel at Lyric Stage Company of Boston; Shiv as a part of The Displaced Hindu Gods Trilogy; Shelter of Last Resort by Miranda Craigwell as a part of XX PlayLab 2014; the New England Premiere of Jackie Sibblies Drury’s We Are Proud To Present A Presentation About The Herero Of Namibia, Formerly Known As Southwest Africa From The German Sudwestafrika Between The Years 1884-1915; Idris Goodwin’s How We Got On; Lynn Nottage’s By The Way, Meet Vera Stark at the Lyric Stage Company of Boston; The Brothers Size and Marcus; Or The Secret Of Sweet as part of The Brother/Sister Plays (2012 Elliot Norton Award nominated for Outstanding Production and winner of the 2012 IRNE Award for Best Play); Neighbors, Grimm; The Good Negro; Voyeurs De Venus (Winner of 2009 Elliot Norton Award for Outstanding Director); The Bluest Eye (IRNE and Elliot Norton Award nominated); The Last Days Of Judas Iscariot; Spell #7 (IRNE nominated); Jesus Hopped The A Train (2004 Elliot Norton Award for Best Fringe Production); and Twilight: Los Angeles 1992 (IRNE nominated).

David Freeman Coleman, Music Director
David Freeman Coleman

Music Director

David Freeman Coleman (Jimmy Powers/Music Director) makes his New Repertory Theatre debut with this production of Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill. Past music direction credits include Choir Boy (SpeakEasy Stage), Miss You Like Hell (Company One/A.R.T.), Mad Moon (Emerson College), Cabaret (Boston Children’s Theater), The Wiz (Eastern Nazarene College). Associate Music Director Best of Both Worlds (A.R.T.) and Violet (SpeakEasy Stage). He has served as the rehearsal pianist for the Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess, Crossing, We Live in Cairo, (A.R.T.). David has worked with Audra McDonald, Bobby McFerrin, Mariah Carey, Patti LaBelle, Ryan Gosling and Phish. He has performed at Carnegie Hall, the Vatican, and the White House. He is a recipient of New England Urban Music Awards and Thomas Dorsey Award from New England Conservatory. David earned a M.A. in Composition from Tufts University and a B.M. in Piano & Composition from Boston University. David is Director of Choral Music at Dana Hall School in Wellesley, MA, and Lecturer of Music & Director of Gospel Choir at Tufts University. Originally from Memphis, TN, he currently resides in Norfolk, MA.

Cristina Todescoº, Scenic Designer
Cristina Todescoº

Scenic Designer

Cristina Todesco returns to New Repertory Theatre after designing Freud’s Last SessionA NumberOn the VergeAmadeusThree ViewingsThe Last Five YearsOpusafterlife: a ghost storyPicasso at Lapin AgileThe Clean HouseHouse with No WallsSilence, and The Santaland Diaries. Theater companies include Actor’s Shakespeare Project, Company One, ART Institute, Commonwealth Shakespeare Company, the Culture Project, Gloucester Stage, Huntington Theatre Company, Boston Playwrights’ Theatre, Merrimack Repertory Theatre, Olney Theater Center, Orfeo Group, Poets’ Theatre, SpeakEasy Stage Company, Harbor Stage, Summer Play Festival, Trinity Rep, Wheelock Family Theatre, Williamstown Theatre Festival among many more. She has designed for the Boston Symphony Orchestra at Symphony Hall in Boston and at Tanglewood. For Outstanding Design, she is the recipient of four Elliot Norton Awards and an IRNE Award. She earned a BFA in painting from Boston University’s School of Visual Arts and an MFA in scenic design from BU’s School of Theatre, where she currently teaches. Originally from Milton, she currently resides in Dorchester

Penney Pinette, Costume Designer
Penney Pinette

Costume Designer

PENNEY PINETTE (Costume Designer) has designed Ideation, The Gift Horse, Golda’s Balcony, and A Number at New Rep. She is a Boston-based designer focusing in dance and theatre. In addition to designing for the stage she also teaches fashion design and construction at Mount Ida College as well as costume production at Boston University where she has recently received her MFA. Some of her work has been with local puppeteer Bonnie Duncan of They Gotta Be Secret Agents, and the local dance community including Prometheus Dance, Contrapose Dance, and Fort Point Theater Productions. This year will be her fifth year designing costumes for the Boston Conservatory dance department.

Jennifer Fok, Lighting Designer
Jennifer Fok

Lighting Designer

Jennifer Fok (Lighting Designer) makes her New Repertory Theatre debut with this this production of Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill. Jennifer earned a BFA in Theatre Production and Design from Ithaca College. She is originally from Palm Spring, California and currently resides in New York City.

Brian M. Robillard*, Production Stage Manager
Brian M. Robillard*

Production Stage Manager

BRIAN M. ROBILLARD*  returns to New Repertory Theatre after previously working on Statements After an Arrest Under the Immorality Act, Lonely Planet, Ideation, The Gift Horse, Brecht on Brecht, Fiddler on the Roof, Baltimore, Scenes from an AdulteryAlbatross, On the Verge, and Pattern of Life. Recent area credits include A Christmas Carol (Central Square Theater); A Little Night Music (Huntington Theatre Company); Romeo & Juliet and King Lear (Commonwealth Shakespeare Company); Don Giovanni and Siren Song (BU Opera Institute); Song Cycle (Peabody Essex Museum); and Hairspray and The Fantasticks (Hope Summer Repertory Theatre). Brian received his BFA in Stage Management from Boston University. A native of Massachusetts, Brian currently resides in Chelmsford. Upcoming projects include Calendar Girls (Greater Boston Stage Company).

Eva Chastain, Production Assistant
Eva Chastain

Production Assistant

Lucas Dixon, Production Assistant
Lucas Dixon

Production Assistant

Sam Martin, Properties
Sam Martin

Properties

Dan Krugman, Sound Board Operator
Dan Krugman

Sound Board Operator

Katie Hoolsema Lamm, Master Electrician
Katie Hoolsema Lamm

Master Electrician

Ron Mahdi, Orchestra
Ron Mahdi

Orchestra

Yoron Israel, Orchestra
Yoron Israel

Orchestra

* member of Actors’ Equity Association, the union of professional Actors and Stage Managers in the United States
◊ member of the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society
º member of United Scenic Artists, Local USA 829

News

Announcing Lydia Harrell as Billie Holiday