Friday, September 30

Florida Rep starts new season with salute to Billie Holiday

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Florida Repertory Theatre’s 25th anniversary season opens in the ArtStage Studio Theatre with Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill by Lanie Robertson, a biographical look at the life and music of jazz legend Billie Holiday.
The ArtStage Studio Theatre transforms into a seedy Philadelphia club where Holiday gave her last public performance to pay tribute to one of the great artists of the 20th century.
The musical runs in the intimate venue from Sept. 23 through Oct. 30, with discounted previews Sept. 20 – 22.
“We are thrilled to celebrate 25 years with you this year,” said artistic director Greg Longenhagen. “This love letter to one of the great jazz artists of the twentieth century is a wonderful way to welcome you back to the ArtStage. Lady Day takes an honest and hard-hitting look at Billie’s life and music, and you’ll hear all of her greatest hits and witness how she overcame tremendous obstacles to bring her beautiful music to life for audiences. Our 2022-2023 lineup has something for everyone, and we hope you’ll join us for this exciting season opener!”
Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill stars Philadelphia-based actors Ebony Pullum as Billie Holiday and Garrick Vaughan as Jimmy Powers, her friend and piano player. Pullum is a veteran of the Philadelphia stage and makes her Florida Rep debut after a recent appearance as Billie Holiday with the Curio Theatre. Vaughan is an accomplished actor-musician who returns to Florida Rep after appearing in Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story last spring.
The production features a live band on stage again in the ArtStage. Vaughan plays piano and is joined by Matt Koller on drums and Perry Orfanella on bass. Both return to the ArtStage after playing in last season’s opener, Let’s Fall in Love.
The production is directed by Ansley Valentine, a veteran of the regional stage, making his Florida Rep Debut. Valentine’s credits include Cleveland Play House, Indiana Rep, Studio Arena, and others. He is a company member at Fonseca Theatre in Indianapolis and Actors’ Reading Collective in the San Francisco Bay Area. He now heads the graduate directing program at Indiana University-Bloomington.
Valentine is joined by an expert creative team, including musical director Matt Koller, ensemble scenic designer Dennis Maulden (Let’s Fall in Love), costume designer Tony Toney (Let’s Fall in Love), lighting designer Joel Zishuk (Let’s Fall in Love”, sound designer Katie Lowe (Maytag Virgin) and ensemble stage manager Janine Wochna (Maytag Virgin).
Performances are Tuesday – Saturday at 7 p.m., Thursday, Saturday and Sunday at 2 p.m., and 8 p.m. for the opening night performance on Friday, Sept. 23. Florida Rep’s parking lot opens two hours before each performance and offers guests free parking across the street from the Arcade Theatre in downtown Fort Myers.
Tickets start at $63 for regular performances and $39 for previews and are available online at www.floridarep.org and through the box office at 239-332-4488 or toll-free at 877-787-8053.

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