Curio Theatre Company Brings Audiences to One of Billie Holiday’s Final Performances with Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill March 17-April 9

-Courtesy of Perpetual Motion PR

Curio Theatre Company comes back, after two seasons without a mainstage show, with an intimate look at a musical icon. Curio will transform its Black Box space into a South Philly bar for one of Billie Holiday’s final performances.

Curio is thrilled to return with a production of Lanie Robertson’s Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill, March 17-April 9. Opening Night is Saturday, March 19. This intimate and immersive performance is directed by Katrina Shobe and stars Barrymore Winner and Curio Company Member Ebony Pullum with Shawn Bobien as Jimmy Powers, accompanying her on the piano.

Artistic Director Paul Kuhn says, “We chose this show as our return to the stage because Billie Holiday is one of those rare artists who was able to transmute very real pain into beautiful music.  We were inspired by her candor, her willingness to discuss and explore her own personal heartbreak as well as the extreme bigotry she faced as a Black woman, and her ultimate resilience as a human being.  At a time when all of us are grappling with grief and uncertainly after the last two years, Billie Holiday serves as an inspiration to us all.”

One of the greatest jazz singers of all time, Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill recounts the life of Billie Holiday through the songs that made her famous. More than a dozen moving musical numbers are woven with personal stories, both hard and humorous, to paint a riveting portrait of the lady and her music. In a small, intimate bar in Philadelphia in 1959, Holiday puts on a show that, unbeknownst to the audience, will leave them witnesses to one of the last performances of her lifetime. Through her poignant voice and emotional songs, the jazz great shares her loves and her losses. Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill is based on an actual performance that happened at a South Philadelphia bar on March 14, 1959.  It was four months before her death.

Curio Co-Founder and Artistic Director Paul Kuhn is the Set and Lighting Designer, turning Curio’s space into Emerson’s Bar and Grill with table seating. Damien Figueras is the Musical Director and Sound Designer for the show. Curio Company founding member Aetna Gallagher is Costume Designer and Props Designer. Eleanor Safer is Stage Manager.

“One of the things that also excited me personally about this project was the chance to turn our Black Box space into a 1950’s jazz club.  Not only will it be a perfectly intimate space to experience what will definitely be a stellar performance by Ebony Pullum playing Ms. Holiday, but this space has a brand new air filtration system to keep our performers and patrons safe during this ongoing pandemic.  The cabaret-style seating allows for social distancing in style”, says Artistic Director and Set Designer Paul Kuhn.

All shows are performed at Curio’s Black Box at the Calvary Center for Culture and Community, 4740 Baltimore Avenue. Preview tickets are Pay What You Can. Regular tickets are $20-$30 and available at Walk-ins are welcome based on availability, but the box office will not process credit card payments on site. Payments can be made with cash (exact change), Venmo, or checks (including phone number and address).

All audience members must show a valid picture I.D. and proof of vaccination. Masks must be worn at all times. Any questions please call 215-921-8243.


About Curio Theatre Company

Curio Theatre Company’s mission is to serve audiences in West Philadelphia and beyond with high quality, affordable theatre performances; to develop artistic talent through ensemble, company -based training and rehearsal processes; and to further academic, social, and personal development through arts education. The artistic and the educational arms of the theatre company are intertwined as we make our home in the diverse community of West Philadelphia. The company’s educational program was awarded the 2017 Victory Theatre Education Award at the Barrymore Awards Ceremony. It marked the company’s first Barrymore Award. Curio Theatre Company is a 501(c)3 non-profit company based in West Philadelphia. The Company was founded by professional artists and administrators who met at the Hedgerow Theatre in Rose Valley, PA, and incorporated as a non-profit in 2004.  After touring locally and internationally for several years, the Company began a search for a permanent home. In January 2005, Curio Theatre Company joined in partnership with the Calvary Center for Culture and Community at 4740 Baltimore Avenue, Philadelphia. This partnership provides Curio with a performance venue and classrooms within the Calvary Center as well as office space and company housing in the adjacent parish house. In return, Curio is assisting the Calvary Center in creating a professional Performing Arts Venue in the heart of West Philadelphia.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.