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Soprano wins rave reviews for transforming into Billie Holiday on Broadway

Published on Apr 15, 2014 11:09 AM
 
Audra McDonald, 43, is a classically trained soprano who won her last best actress Tony for The Gershwins' Porgy And Bess in 2012. But in Lady Day At Emerson's Bar & Grill she becomes Billie Holiday, who is considered one of the greatest jazz singers ever. -- FILE PHOTO: REUTERS

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Singer Audra McDonald, a five-time Tony winner, channels legendary American jazz singer Billie Holiday in the Broadway musical Lady Day At Emerson's Bar & Grill in a performance critics described as a "spellbinding tour de force" and "intoxicating".

McDonald, 43, is a classically trained soprano who won her last best actress Tony for The Gershwins' Porgy And Bess in 2012. But in Lady Day she becomes Holiday, who is considered one of the greatest jazz singers ever.

The musical, which debuted off-Broadway nearly 30 years ago, opened on Sunday at the Circle in the Square theatre for a limited 10-week run. "With her plush, classically trained soprano scaled down to jazz-soloist size, Ms. McDonald sings selections from Holiday's repertoire with sensitive musicianship and rich seams of feeling that command rapt admiration," said the New York Times.

The entertainment industry publication Variety said the musical "was waiting for a great singer like Audra McDonald to reach out and bring this tragic figure back from the grave", while the Los Angeles Times said it is a "showcase for McDonald's rare artistry".

 
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