Monday, January 15, 2018

At Emerson’s Bar and Grill
Vintage Theatre: 1/12 – 2/18
    Mary Louise Lee as Billie Holiday 
     (Photo credit:RDG Photography)

You owe it to yourself to see “Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill.” Currently on view at Vintage Theatre, the show will move to The Garner Galleria after it closes on February 18.      
     It’s this critic’s not so humble opinion that this collaboration between the Denver Center Theatre Company and Vintage is a giant step forward for the Denver theatre community. This bridging of the gap between the Plex and the outlying theatres is a dream come true.
     Lanie Robertson’s play has been produced twice before, and this is the third time that Mary Louise Lee has portrayed Ms. Holiday.
     To get to see her perform the role in the Jeffrey Nickelson auditorium at The Vintage Theatre is a great honor. Nickelson, a beloved actor/director and producer, passed away shortly after moving his Shadow Theatre to the space in which Vintage now resides.
     Playwright Robertson sets the play in 1959, where Billie Holiday is performing at The Emerson Bar and Grill just a few months before her death. The play is peppered with anecdotes and memories that are by turns heart-wrenching and humorous.
     Whether singing classic songs such as “God Bless the Child Who Got His Own” or “Strange Fruit,” Denver’s first lady, Mary Louise Lee, is luminous as legendary jazz singer, Billie Holiday. Her performance is nuanced in such a way as to provide us as audience with glimpses of this iconic artist’s multi-faceted persona.
     Music director Trent Hines accompanies Ms. Lee as well as performing the part of Jimmy Powers, Holiday’s shy and supportive lover.  
     Betty Hart’s clear-eyed direction brings out all the humor and pathos in the story of this artist’s life.
     Phil Cope’s eye-pleasing scenic design, graced with signature gardenias, gives us a raised stage before a faux proscenium with purple curtain that’s flanked by a grand piano and a bar.
“Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill” 
The life of the legendary Billie Holiday is told through the songs that made her famous.
This performance contains adult language and content.
90 minutes – no intermission

Vintage Theatre presents
Jan. 12 – Feb 18*
Fri/Sat and Mon., Jan. 22 at 7:30 p.m.; Sun. at 2:30 p.m.; Thurs., Feb 1, 8 and 15 at 7:30 p.m.
$15 - $34 or 303-856-7830. 
Vintage Theatre, 1468 Dayton St., Aurora 80010.Marlowe's Musings


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