On September 14, 2018, Congo Square Theatre Company opened up its 2018-2019 season at the ETA Creative Arts Theatre with, Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill, written by renowned Playwright Lanie Roberton and directed by Shanesia Davis.
Playwright Lanie Robertson is known for writing plays about iconic artists and many of the issues they face. In this particular production, Billie “Lady Day” Holiday, played by Alexis J. Roston is performing at Emerson’s Bar and Grill in Philadelphia, post her release from prison. Roston navigates the audience through the highs and lows of the legends life as Lady Day recounts why she returned to Philly to perform after feeling betrayed by her hometown. In between songs, she speaks of the things she endured during her formative years as well as her professional career.
Alexis J. Roston (Lady Day) captivates the audience with upbeat tunes like “What A Little Moonlight Can Do,” and “Give Me A Pig Foot & A Bottle of Beer.” The more Roston sings, the more she sounds like Billie Holiday. There’s an emotional overtone when she sings, “Strange Fruit and “God Bless The Child”. Anderson Edwards (Jimmy Powers) entertains the audiences as he tickles the ivories in between the singing and storytelling portion of the show.
Shanesia Davis does a good job incorporating the audience into the production by allowing a few of them to sit on stage.
Overall the production was entertaining. The set was beautiful, the acting was solid and the singing was good. If you are a Billie Holiday fan, this is a show you will enjoy. The show runs through October 7, 2018, at the ETA Creative Arts Theater, located at 7600 S. South Chicago Avenue in Chicago. For tickets, visit the Congo Square Theatre Website
Photos by Marcus Davis