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Actress Audra McDonald Returns To Broadway As Jazz Great Billie Holiday

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Audra McDonald (credit: Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images)

Audra McDonald (credit: Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images)

(CBS SF/AP) – Audra McDonald will return to Broadway this spring singing the blues as Billie Holiday.

Producers said Tuesday that the five-time Tony Award-winner will star in Lanie Robertson’s “Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill,” a musical that imagines one of Holiday’s last performances in 1959.

Previews begin March 25 at the Circle in the Square Theatre and opening night is set for April 13. The venue will allow some lucky members of the audience to sit at tables onstage.

Her new show, to be directed by Lonny Price, puts an ailing Holiday in a small club in Philadelphia and lets McDonald sing such timeless classics as “Somebody’s On My Mind,” “Don’t Explain” and “Strange Fruit.”

Germany-born and raised in Fresno, McDonald spent four seasons on TV’s “Private Practice” and won her fifth Tony Award for “The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess.” She won raves as Mother Superior in the recent live NBC special “The Sound of Music” with Carrie Underwood. She released her fifth solo album, “Go Back Home,” last summer.

She won three Tony Awards before the age of 30 – for “Carousel,” “Master Class” and “Ragtime” – a fourth in 2004 for “A Raisin in the Sun” and a fifth for “The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess.” She also has two Grammy Awards.

McDonald’s Emmy nominations were earned in the HBO version of “Wit” in 2001 and for reprising her Broadway role in “A Raisin in the Sun” in a 2008 made-for-TV adaptation.

The Holiday musical will be produced by Jeffrey Richards and Jerry Frankel.

© Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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