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Lady Day at Emerson's Bar and Grill - Full Length Musical, Drama

Lady Day at Emerson's Bar and Grill

Lanie Robertson

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Full Length Musical, Drama

1m, 1f

ISBN: 9780573681844

The time is 1959. The place is a seedy bar in Philadelphia. The audience is about to witness one of Billie Holiday’s last performances, given four months before her death.

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Full Length Musical


90 minutes

Time Period - 1950s

Settings Of Play - A small bar in south Philadephia. Around midnight in March, 1959.


Bare Stage/Simple Set

Period Costumes


Mild Adult Themes


Tony, From Broadway

Winner! 2014 Tony® Award, Best Actress in a Play
Winner! 2014 Drama Desk Award, Best Actress in a Play
Winner! 2014 Outer Critics Circle Award, Best Actress in a Musical
The time is 1959. The place is a seedy bar in Philadelphia. The audience is about to witness one of Billie Holiday’s last performances, given four months before her death. More than a dozen musical numbers are interlaced with salty, often humorous reminiscences to project a riveting portrait of the lady and her music.

"The richest jazz singing in town just now is at [this] subtle absorbing dramatic performance [...] Evokes all the sordidness of a woman entirely shaped by suffering [...] By the end [...] one is filled with an unexpected joy [...] Robertson's play is a spare, shrewdly constructed piece." - The New York Times

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

"Original and riveting." - The London Times

"A searing portrait of a woman whose art was triumphant." - OnStage

The world premiere of Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill opened at the Westside Theatre, New York City on September 7, 1986.


1m, 1f


Male character plays the piano, plus 2 additional muscians.

BILLIE HOLIDAY - the great jazz singer in the last year of her life, age 44
JIMMY POWERS - a piano player, any age
Rental Materials





3 Piano/Conductor Scores

Song Samples

I Wonder Where Our Love Has Gone

When a Woman Loves a Man

What a Little Moonlight Can Do

God Bless the Child

Strange Fruit

  • Audra McDonald in "Lady Day at Emerson's Bar and Grill"

  • "Lady Day at Emerson's Bar and Grill" - TheaterMania


Lanie Robertson

Lanie Robertson writes about iconic artists and the societal issues they faced in Nasty Little Secrets, Alfred Stiegletz Loves O’Keeffe, and Woman Before a Glass. His plays have been produced internationally and at the Alley Theatre, Arena Stage, Delaware Theatre, Edinburgh Festival, Festival d’Avignon, George Street Playhouse, Kennedy Center, Old Globe, Philadelphia Theatre Company, Playwrights ... view full profile

Now Playing
Sean Britton-Milligan 10/21/2015 2:23 PM
A wonderful story about a wonderful women who left this world too early. The wonderful script really shows her struggle near the end of her life. I would recommend any small theater think of doing this production.
M. Denise Lee 8/25/2015 8:49 PM

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