Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill Jungle Theater – First, I’m a bit embarrassed that this is the first time I’ve been to the Jungle Theater. What a delightful intimate setting without a single bad seat in the house. The staff and crew definitely matched the vibe. I simply adore it, and truly have been missing out.
Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill
Thomasina Petrus performance as Billie Holiday was unquestioned and unparalleled. Her swagger and approach felt so effortless, that it was nothing short of amazing. From the singing to the immaculate storytelling, Petrus took you on a journey back to that night at Emerson’s Bar and Grill.
As the title, this takes place at a club in Philadelphia in 1959 with Holiday (Petrus) performing one of her very last shows, starting with some shade thrown at actually being back in Philly. Booze filled tales are told between songs like the sultry “When a Woman Loves a Man” and the ebullient “What a Little Moonlight Can Do” – Petrus nails the dialog and crushes the vocals.
Jazz with a blues appeal to it, this four-person ensemble was all that was needed, and they delivered. Piano, bass and drums, along with a voice, it was a night out filled with a bittersweet feeling of nostalgia. Through joy and pain, racism and poverty, addiction and abuse, this was a head bobbin’ history lesson everyone should witness.
It is just shy of a 2-hour performance with a 15-minute intermission, which really wasn’t needed with the show wrapping up just a half hour after it. Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill runs through June 24th.
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