PHOTO SPECIAL: From Carrie Pipperidge to Billie Holiday; Celebrating Six-Time Tony Award Winner Audra McDonald

By Matthew Blank
03 Jul 2014

Six-time Tony Award-winning actress Audra McDonald, who is currently starring on Broadway in Lady Day at Emerson's Bar and Grill, celebrates her birthday July 3. Playbill.com takes a look back at her career. Happy Birthday, Audra!



McDonald won her 6th career Tony Award for her leading performance in Lady Day at Emerson's Bar and Grill. She previously won Tonys for Carousel, Master Class, Ragtime, The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess and A Raisin in the Sun.



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Eddie Korbich and Audra McDonald in Carousel, 1994
Photo by Joan Marcus



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The 1959-set play, which centers on one of Holiday's final public appearances, takes place in Philadelphia four months before the singer's death. The 90-minute show includes such songs as "God Bless the Child," "Strange Fruit," "What a Little Moonlight Can Do," "When a Woman Loves a Man," "Foolin' Myself," "Don't Explain," "Somebody's On My Mind," "Taint Nobody's Bizness," "Baby Doll" and more.

According to producers, "Lady Day at Emerson's Bar & Grill recounts Holiday's life story through the songs that made her famous. 1959, in a small, intimate bar in Philadelphia, 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 moving songs, one of the greatest jazz singers of all-time shares her loves and her losses."

Lady Day at Emerson's Bar and Grill premiered at the Alliance Theatre in Atlanta, GA, in the spring of 1986 prior to an Off-Broadway run at the Vineyard Theatre. Lonette McKee starred in the original Off-Broadway staging of the musical that has become a popular title for regional theatres.

Her solo albums include "Go Back Home" (2013), "Way Back to Paradise" (1998), "How Glory Goes" (2000), "Happy Songs" (2002) and "Build a Bridge" (2006).

Visit ladydayonbroadway.com.