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“Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill” Runs November 2–19 at Rep Stage

Production at Howard Community College’s Horowitz Center

Columbia, MD – Rep Stage, the professional regional theatre in residence at Howard Community College (HCC), continues its 25th season with Lanie Robertson’s “Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill,” directed by Danielle A. Drakes and music direction by Wil Lewis III. The time is 1959. The place is Emerson’s Bar and Grill, a seedy little jazz club in Philadelphia. The audience is about to witness one of Billie Holiday's final performances, given four months before her death. More than a dozen musical numbers including “God Bless the Child”, “My Man,” and “Strange Fruit” are interlaced with salty, often humorous, reminiscences to project a riveting portrait of the lady and her music.

“Hurts and exhilarates in just the right proportions." - New York Magazine

“Lady Day at Emerson's Bar and Grill” premiered at Atlanta’s Alliance Theatre in the spring of 1986, with Reenie Upchurch as Billie Holiday. Vineyard Theatre produced the show Off-Broadway in the summer of 1986, and then moved it to the Westside Theatre on September 7, 1986. In this production, Lonette McKee starred as Holiday, and the play went on to win the 1987 Outer Critics Circle Award for Best Off-Broadway Book. A 2014 Broadway production at Circle in the Square reinvigorated the play, running well beyond its originally planned 10 weeks . Directed by Lonny Price, the production starred Audra McDonald as Billie Holiday, with Shelton Becton as pianist Jimmy Powers. Audra McDonald won her record-breaking sixth Tony Award for the production and became the only person to win in all four acting categories, this time for Best Actress in a Play.

“Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill” opens November 2, 2017, with a limited run through November 19 in the Studio Theatre of the Horowitz Visual and Performing Arts Center (HVPA) on the campus of HCC, 10901 Little Patuxent Parkway, Columbia, Maryland. There will be post-show discussions on November 5 and 17. Rep Stage will also hold a pre-show lecture prior to the 2 p.m. performance on November 18.

Tickets are $40 for general admission, $35 for seniors and the military, and $15 for students with a current ID. Thursdays are $10 performances. For tickets and additional information, visit or call the box office at 443-518-1500.

The press performance is Friday, November 3 at 8 p.m. For press reservations, contact Zheyan Damavandi in the Rep Stage office at 443-518-1510 or email


  • Celeste Jones*: Billie Holiday
  • Wil Lewis III: Jimmy Powers


  • Written by: Lanie Robertson
  • Directed by: Danielle A. Drakes
  • Music Direction by: Wil Lewis III
  • Set Design: Mollie Singer
  • Lighting Design: Jay Herzog++
  • Sound Design: Mark Smedley
  • Costume Design: Benjamin Kress
  • Properties Design: Mollie Singer
  • Stage Manager: Julie DeBakey Smith*
  • Assistant Stage Manager: Brittany Federici**

* Members Actor’s Equity Association
** Equity Membership Candidate
++ Member of United Scenic Artists, IATSE

Rep Stage, the professional regional theatre in residence at Howard Community College, is celebrating its 25th season. Led by Producing Artistic Director Joseph W. Ritsch, Rep Stage produces engaging and evocative contemporary American classics and new works. Rep Stage is dedicated to collaborating with regional artists in its commitment to bringing richly diverse work to audiences. Recognized as a professional Washington, DC metropolitan area theatre company by Theatre Washington, Rep Stage has a proud history of Helen Hayes Award-winning productions and nominations. The theatre is a member of the Greater Baltimore Cultural Alliance and Theatre Communications Group. Performances are made possible by Howard Arts Council, Maryland State Arts Council, Howard County and Maryland state governments, and generous individual donors.
Topics: Arts & Culture
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