Philadelphia Theatre Co. Brings Billie Holiday’s Story to Life in Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill

-Brenda Hillegas
photo by Mark Garvin

…And you’re a part of the show too. As you pass the lobby and head to your seats at The Suzanne Roberts Theatre, you’ll notice the set up isn’t what you’ve been used to all season…and seasons before. Instead, you are transported back to a South Philly dive bar in 1959 where the iconic jazz singer, Billie Holiday, is about to perform her final show.

Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill, written by Lanie Robertson with musical arrangements by Danny Holgate, is an experience like no other this theatre season in Philadelphia. You aren’t just witnessing the show, you are part of the show. Audiences will be seated in tables right on the stage with additional rows of seating behind those. It’s a concert and you don’t want to be late. The set also includes a working bar, so order a drink.

Jazz star Laurin Talese is incredible as Lady Day herself. It’s hard to take your eyes off her as she tells her story and sings her songs. This is an intimate performance that gives us 90 minutes with Billie Holiday before we all have to get back to the real world. The Suzanne Roberts Theatre is located just steps away from 1409 Lombard Street where the real Billie Holiday once lived.

Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill is directed by PTC Resident Artist Jeffrey L. Page, fresh from his work as co-director and choreographer of the 1776 revival on Broadway. For tickets, visit

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