And Thomas also stirringly conveys the remarkable, volatile heart in which Holiday held a lifetime of horrors and prejudice. She makes bitterly funny jokes about whites, for example, but she also laughs, and so beautifully reveals her essential nature, her generous, far-reaching warmth. Though the script she performs sometimes feels a little forced in its exposition (an occupational hazard of a bio-show), Lady Day offers fascinating and moving glimpses into the life of its Lady as an artist, an African-American, and a woman. Thomas's performance is rich and affecting, offering glints of a wit and an artistry honed on suffering, but which brought into the world such impossibly bright song.
Megan Grumbling can be reached at email@example.com.
LADY DAY AT EMERSON'S BAR AND GRILL | By Lanie Robertson | Starring Mardra Thomas | Directed by Julie George-Carlson; Music Direction by Flash Allen | Produced by Freeport Factory Stage, 5 Depot St, Freeport | 207.865.5505
, Billie Holiday, jazz, Julie George-Carlson, More