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Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill

4040 Twiggs Street, San Diego, 92110

Great art may be born of personal pain, but most of the time, it needs to be aesthetically transmogrified — stepped back from and reworked just enough to make it resonate with the audience. Most of the time. But every now and then, someone sings their way out of the whorehouse into the history books without changing much of anything. Billie Holiday may have had a smallish voice and a smallish range, but she squeezed a huge amount of feeling out of both, and she was a hell of a lyricist to boot. She may have written “God Bless the Child” with Arthur Herzog, Jr., but it was her experience: an argument with her mother about money. And so: “Mama may have, papa may have, but God bless the child that’s got his own. Them that’s got shall get, them that’s not shall lose, so the bible said and it still is news.” It surely helped (her art, anyway) that love done her wrong, that her “first love/worst love” Jimmy Monroe was not only an addict, but an addict who wanted a companion on the journey down. All this is to help explain why Lanie Robertson’s play, which lets Karole Foreman spill out Holiday’s story in between the songs of a late-career set in Philadelphia, works better than some other jukebox musicals. It all feels so close to the bone, even when she’s singing other people’s material — even when it’s something as seemingly lighthearted as “What a Little Moonlight Can Do.” She sings it early on, and it’s delightful and optimistic, like “the new Billie” herself. But after a night of drinking, reminiscing, and eventually dancing with her old devil, she slurs her way back to the tune, and it becomes tragic. What a little moonlight can do to you, indeed.

When

Ongoing until Sunday, February 18, 2024

Hours

Sundays, 2pm
Thursdays, 7pm
Fridays, 7pm
Saturdays, 7pm
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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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