• Vintage, Denver Center collaborate to bring 'Lady Day,' Mary Louise Lee, to stage

    by John Moore | Nov 20, 2017
    Lady Day Mary Louise Lee Adams Viscom Mary Louise Lee in the 2016 DCPA Theatre Company workshop of 'Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill.' Photo by  AdamsVisCom.

     

    From First Lady to Lady Day: Billie Holiday musical to open at Vintage, then move to Denver Center's Galleria Theatre

    By John Moore
    Senior Arts Journalist

    Mary Louise LeeWhen Mary Louise Lee revisited her signature role as Billie Holiday
    in a special workshop production of Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill last year, she dedicated the performance to Shadow Theatre Company founding Artistic Director Jeffrey Nickelson. Lee considers having played the jazz legend in 2002 to be the most meaningful performance of her storied career.

    It couldn't be more fitting, then, that when Vintage Theatre Productions brings the story to full stage life again this January with Lee in the title role, she will be be performing in the Jeffrey Nickelson Auditorium. 

    Nickelson, who died in 2009, was a graduate of the DCPA’s National Theatre Conservatory masters program. In 1997, he founded Shadow Theatre to present “stories from the heart of the African-American community,” as he liked to say. And the biggest hit in Shadow’s history was that 2002 production of Lady Day, with Nickelson directing and Lee starring as Holiday.

    Lady DayFor her haunting portrayal of a woman with a singular singing voice — and a lethal heroin habit  — Lee won a Westword Best of Denver Award for Best Actress in a Musical. The review said: “A stunning evening of theatre. Lee's singing is absolutely radiant. Her voice is smooth as glass. At times she sounds uncannily like Holiday, at others entirely like her full-throated self." She reprised the role for a special three-day workshop engagement in 2016 at the Denver Center's Jones Theatre. 

    After Nickelsen died of a heart attack in 2009, the theatre he opened at 1468 Dayton St. in Aurora was renamed the Jeffrey Nickelson Auditorium. Vintage took over operations there in 2011. 

    Berry HartToday, Vintage and the Denver Center announced an unprecedented collaboration. Vintage will introduce its new production of Lanie Robertson's Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill, starring Lee and directed by Betty Hart (pictured right), from Jan. 12 through Feb. 18. The production will then move to the Denver Center's Garner-Galleria Theatre on March 5 and perform there on Monday nights through April 23 — while the Denver Center's ongoing musical comedy First Date continues its run for the rest of the week.

    Lady Day at Emerson's Bar & Grill tells Holiday's troubled life story through the songs that made her famous, including "God Bless the Child," "What a Little Moonlight Can Do," "Strange Fruit" and "Taint Nobody's Biz-ness." Set in Philadelphia in 1959, Holiday's performance at Emerson's Bar & Grill was one of her last, and Lady Day is not just a memorable tribute to the singer, but also a moving portrait of her struggles with addiction, racism, and loss.

    "We're thrilled, of course," said Vintage Theatre Artistic Director Bernie Cardell. "This is an exciting event for Vintage and for the theatre community overall. If we are to thrive, collaboration is the key. While we certainly can survive on our own, we can reach bigger heights together. My hope is this is just the start of a new way of producing quality theatre for our community."

     Lady Day Mary Louise Lee. 2002Lee's performing career began at the Denver Center when she appeared in Beehive at what is now the Garner Galleria Theatre while only 18 years old and still a senior at Thomas Jefferson High School. In 2011, Lady Day also became the First Lady of Denver when her husband, Michael B. Hancock, was elected Mayor.

    (Pictured right: Mary Louise Lee in rehearsal for her award-winning turn in 'Lady Day at Emerson's Bar & Grill' for Shadow Theatre in 2002.)

    Lee has performing at many high profile events over the past two decades, including the 2004, 2008 and 2012 Democratic National Conventions. She performed with the Colorado Symphony at the 911 Remembrance Ceremony, and in the First Ladies of Jazz concert. She has sung the national anthem before 78,000 Denver Broncos fans, was featured vocalist at the grand opening of Union Station was a Season 9 contestant on America's Got Talent.  She has toured internationally performing for the troops of the U.S. Department of Defense. She returned to the DCPA in 2014 to sing with the cast of the national touring production of the Broadway musical Million Dollar Quartet onstage at the Buell Theatre. And last December, Lee won a 2015 True West Award for her performance in the new musical, Uncle Jed's Barbershop.  

    Read John Moore's Denver Post profile of Mary Louise Lee

    Mary Louise Lee The Wiz. AfterthoughtSome of Lee's other notable local theatre performances have included Vogue Theatre’s A Brief History of White Music, the Arvada Center’s The 1940s Radio Hour, Country Dinner Playhouse’s Ain’t Misbehavin', Denver Civic’s Menopause the Musical and Afterthought Theatre Company's The Wiz, as Glinda the Good Witch (pictured right). She took on that role just after Hancock was elected in 2011.

    From students to senior citizens, Lee is committed to being an ambassador for the arts to help expose and expand access to Denver’s vibrant arts and cultural communities. She is choir director at the New Hope Baptist Church and founder of “Bringin’ Back the Arts," a foundation that encourages arts education in the public schools.

    Betty Hart, the director, recently moved to Denver from Atlanta, where she was a Teaching Artist at the Alliance Theatre. She is the Special Projects Coordinator for Kaiser Permanente Arts Integrated Resources program and recently joined the board of directors for the Colorado Theatre Guild.

    The Music Director will be Trent Hines. He was most recently the conductor and pianist for The Wild Party at the Stanley Marketplace, and he also performed in the show.


    A Lady Day Westword

    Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill: At Vintage Theatre

  • Jan. 12-Feb 18, 2018 (Note: The Feb. 3 show will be performed by Shandra Duncan)
  • 1468 Dayton St., Aurora
  • Tickets $15-$34
  • Call 303-856-7830 or BUY ONLINE


  • Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill: At the Garner-Galleria Theatre

  • March 5-April 23, 2018
  • Denver Performing Arts Complex
  • Tickets start at $42
  • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
  • The show runs approximately 90 minutes without intermission
  • Adult language and content
  • Age Recommendation: 17 and over
  •  

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    Video: Mary Louise Lee sings with Million Dollar Quartet:

    Video: Watch Mary Louise Lee sing 'Fools Fall in Love' with the cast of  the national touring production of 'Million Dollar Quartet' at the Buell Theatre in 2014.

  • October: Colorado theatre openings

    by John Moore | Sep 28, 2016

    Rhonda Brown. Photo courtesy Richard H. Pegg.


    NOTE: At the start of each month, the DCPA NewsCenter offers an updated list of all upcoming Colorado theatre openings. Companies are encouraged to submit listings and production photos at least two weeks in advance to the DCPA NewsCenter at jmoore@dcpa.org.


    Six intriguing titles for October:

    1 PerspectivesAward-winning actor Rhonda Brown, who relocated to Creede two years ago, returns to Denver for a three-night run of what has become her signature role: As the late, unapologetically left-leaning columnist Molly Ivins in Red-Hot Patriot: The Kick-Ass Wit of Molly Ivins. Ivins, who had a bumpy spell with the New York Times, was a three-time Pulitzer Prize finalist who was constantly telling us to “stop letting big money buy our elections” and to “raise more hell.” Oct. 7-9 at Lannie's Clocktower Cabaret, 16th and Arapahoe St. 303-293-0075 or lannies.com

    2 PerspectivesDenver First Lady Mary Louise Lee will return to her professional roots when she appears in a special workshop production of Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill from Oct. 28-30 in the Jones Theatre. Lee's performing career began at the Denver Center when she was 18 and still a senior at Thomas Jefferson High School. Lady Day is a haunting look at Billie Holiday, a woman with a singular singing voice  — and a lethal heroin habit. During the performance, Lee tells the jazz legend's troubled life story through the songs that made her famous, including "God Bless the Child."

    3 Perspectives

    A October SpillSpill examines the massive Deepwater Horizon oil disaster that killed 11 workers off the coast of Louisiana and triggered the largest oil spill in history. For 87 days, millions of gallons of oil flowed into the Gulf of Mexico in what President Barack Obama called "the worst environmental disaster America has ever faced.” Spill was written by Leigh Fondakowski (pictured right), who was the Head Writer of the Denver-born The Laramie Project, and is based on more than 200 hours of interviews. Oct. 14-29 at Naropa University, 2130 Arapahoe Ave. in Boulder.

    4 PerspectivesThe Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company presents the world premiere of Full Code, winner of the company's first "Generations" play competition. After a freak accident puts a man in a coma, he must decide which of two women he wants - if he wakes up, that is. David Valdes Greenwood's story has been described as "a gripping look inside the human mind." Featuring Casey Andree, Laura Norman, Karen Slack, Warren Sherrill, Devon James and Luke Sorge. Oct. 20-Nov. 13 at the Dairy Arts, Center, 2590 Walnut St., Boulder, 303-440-7826 or betc.org

    5 PerspectivesLocal Theater Company opens its fifth season with the world premiere of Firestorm, a raw look into the first year of a biracial marriage. Playwright Meridith Friedman focuses on the response of a white political candidate's African-American wife when the media discovers a racially charged prank from her husband's past. Friedman says her play is "a searing look at who we decide to spend our life with," and begs the question: How well do we really know our partner? Oct. 20-Nov. 13 at the Dairy Arts Center, 2590 Walnut St., in Boulder, localtheatercompany.org

    6 PerspectivesFirehouse Theater Company will undertake perhaps the largest production in its long history when it stages Arthur Miller's cautionary The Crucible, set during the Salem witch trials but really more of a commentary on the McCarthyism of the 1950s. Director Peter J. Hughes' large cast includes Jeff Jesmer, Lisa Kraai, Daniel Langhoff, Carolyn Lohr and David Fletcher. Oct. 8-Nov. 5 at the John Hand Theatre, 7653 E. 1st Place, 303-562-3232 or firehouse’s home page  

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    And that's just the start of things. Here are all your options in one handy list:  

    THIS MONTH'S THEATRE OPENINGS IN COLORADO:

    (Submit your listings to jmoore@dcpa.org)

    October DCPA openingsSept. 30-Nov. 6: Arvada Center’s Tartuffe
    6901 Wadsworth Blvd., 720-898-7200 or arvadacenter.org READ MORE

    Sept. 30-Oct. 16: Inspire Creative & Parker Arts Monty Python's Spamalot
    At the PACE Center, 20000 Pikes Peak Avenue, Parker 303-805-6800 or parkerarts.org

    Sept. 30-Oct. 30: Thin Air Theatre Company's Cripple Creep Show
    139 E. Bennett Ave., Cripple Creek, 719-689-3247 or thinairtheatre.com

    Sept. 30-Oct. 15: Thunder River Theatre Company’s Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde
    67 Promenade, Carbondale, 970-963-8200 or thunderrivertheatre.com

    Sept. 30-Oct. 30: Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center's The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales
    Second Stage, 30 W. Dale St., Colorado Springs, 719-634-5581 or csfineartscenter.org

    Oct. 6-15: Buntport Theater's The Rembrandt Room
    At the Millibo Art Theatre, 1626 S. Tejon St. Colorado Springs, 719-465-6321 or TICKET INFO

    Oct. 6-8: square product theatre company's This Aunt is Not a Cockroach
    At Buntport Theater, 717 Lipan St., 800-838-3006 or TICKET INFO

    Oct. 7-30: DCPA Theatre Company's Frankenstein
    Stage Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex, 14th and Curtis streets, 303-893-4100 or denvercenter.org READ MORE

    Oct. 7-Nov. 6, 2016: Aurora Fox's Dracula
    9900 E. Colfax Ave., 303-739-1970 or aurorafoxartscenter.org

    Oct. 7-29: Bug Theatre's Night of the Living Dead, Live (with Paper Cat Films)
    3654 Navajo St., 303-477-9984 or bugtheatre.info

    Oct. 7-30: Cherry Creek Theatre's The Last Romance

    Shaver Ramsey Showroom, 2414 E. 3rd Ave., Denver, 303-800-6578 or cherrycreektheatre.org

    Oct 7-8: Off-Center's Cult Following
    Jones Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex, 14th and Curtis streets, 303-893-4100 or denvercenter.org READ MORE

    Oct. 7-8: Lannie's Clocktower Cabaret's Red Hot Patriot - The Kick-Ass Wit of Molly Ivins
    D&F Clock Tower, 16th and Arapahoe streets, 303-293-0075 or lannies.com

    Oct. 7-Nov. 27: Jesters Dinner Theatre's Godspell
    224 Main St., Longmont, 303-682-9980 or jesterstheatre.com

    Oct. 7-22: StageDoor Theatre's The Rocky Horror Show
    27357 Conifer Road, 303-886-2819 or stagedoortheatre.org

    Oct. 8-Nov. 5: Firehouse's Theatre's The Crucible
    John Hand Theatre, 7653 E. 1st Place, 303-562-3232 or firehouse’s home page

    Oct. 8-Nov. 5, 2016: The Avenue Theater's Wait Until Dark
    417 E. 17th Ave., 303-321-5925 or avenuetheater.com

    Oct. 8-May 13, 2017: Buntport Theater for All Ages’ Siren Song: A Pirate Odyssey
    717 Lipan St., 720-946-1388 or buntport.com
    (1 p.m. and 3 p.m. the second Saturday of each month through May)

    Oct. 13-Nov. 6: Su Teatro's El Sol Que Tu Eres, or The Sun That You Are
    At the Su Teatro Performing Arts Center, 721 Santa Fe Drive, 303-296-0219 or suteatro.org

    Oct. 13-29: OpenStage Theatre Company’s Ultimate Beauty Bible
    At the Center for Fine Art Photography, 400 N. College Ave., Fort Collins, 970-484-5237 or openstagetheatre.org

    Oct. 13-30: Springs Ensemble Theatre’s The Elephant Man
    1903 E. Cache La Poudre St., Colorado Springs, 719-357-3080 or springsensembletheatre.org

    Oct. 14-Nov. 13, 2016: The Edge Theatre's Marie Antoinette
    1560 Teller St., Lakewood, 303-232-0363 or theedgetheater.com

    Oct. 14-29, 2016: Naropa Universiity's Spill
    2130 Arapahoe Ave., Boulder MORE INFO

    Oct. 14-30: Thingamajig Theatre Company's Grounded
    At the Pagosa Springs Center for the Arts, 2313 Eagle Drive, 970-731-7469 or pagosacenter.org

    Oct. 14-23, 2016: Town Hall Arts Center's Guys on Ice
    2450 W. Main St., Littleton, 303-794-2787 or townhallartscenter.org

    Oct. 15-March 12, 2017: DCPA Cabaret's An Act of God
    Galleria Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex, 14th and Curtis streets, 303-893-4100 or denvercenter.org READ MORE

    Oct. 16-Nov. 13: Local Theater Company’s The Firestorm
    Carsen Theater at The Dairy Center, 2590 Walnut St., Boulder, 720-379-4470 or localtheatercompany.org

    Oct. 20-Nov. 13: Boulder Ensembe Theatre Company's Full Code
    Grace Gamm Theater at the Dairy Center for the Arts, 2590 Walnut St., Boulder, 303-440-7826 or betc.org

    Oct. 20-Nov. 6, 2016: TheatreWorks' Game of Love and Chance
    3955 Regent Circle, Colorado Springs, 719-255-3232 or theatreworkscs.org

    Oct. 21-Nov. 13: Ignite Theatre's Nevermore: The Imaginary Life and Mysterious Death of Edgar Allan Poe
    2590 Washington St., 866-811-4111 or click here for tickets

    Oct. 21-Nov. 6: Evergren Players' Stepping Out
    At Center/Stage, 27608 Fireweed Drive, 303-674-4934 or evergreen players’ home page

    Oct. 21-29: Longmont Theatre Company's Bat Boy: The Musical
    513 Main St., Longmont, 303-772-5200 or longmonttheatre.org

    Oct. 21-22: Phamaly Theatre Company's Roald Dahl's James and the Giant Peach
    At the Lakewood Cultural Center, Lakewood Cultural Center, 470 S. Allison Parkway, 303-575-0005 or phamaly.org

    Oct. 21-30: Southern Colorado Repertory Theatre’s Sarah, Plain and Tall
    Famous Performing Arts Center, 131 W Main St., Trinidad, 719-846-4765 or scrtheatre.com

    Oct. 21-Nov. 19 2016: Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center's Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind
    Second Stage, 30 W. Dale St., Colorado Springs, 719-634-5581 or csfineartscenter.org

    Oct 28-30: DCPA's Lady Day at Emerson's Bar & Grill
    JonesTheatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex, 14th and Curtis streets, 303-893-4100 or denvercenter.org READ MORE

    Oct. 28-Nov. 12: Coal Creek Theater of Louisville and Theater Company of Lafayette's Absurd Person Singular
    At the Louisville Center for the Arts, 801 Grant Ave., Louisville, 303-665-0955 or cctlouisville.org 

    Oct. 28-Nov. 27: Vintage Theatre Company's Stella and Lou
    1468 Dayton St., Aurora, 303-839-1361 or vintagetheatre.com

     

    CONTINUING CURRENT PRODUCTIONS:

    Through Oct. 1: Rocky Mountain Repertory Theatre’s Million Dollar Quartet
    800 Grand Ave, Grand Lake, 970-627-3421 or rockymountainrep.com

    Through Oct. 1: OpenStage Theatre Company’s La Bête
    Lincoln Center, 417 W. Magnolia St., Fort Collins, 970-484-5237 or openstagetheatre.org

    Through Oct. 1: Millibo Arts Theatre's Oddville: Happiness Comes in a Cardboard Box
    1626 S. Tejon St. Colorado Springs, 719-465-6321 or themat.org

    Through Oct. 2: Arvada Center’s Sister Act
    6901 Wadsworth Blvd., 720-898-7200 or arvadacenter.org READ MORE
    Through Oct. 2: Jesters Dinner Theatre's Oklahoma
    224 Main St., Longmont, 303-682-9980 or jesterstheatre.com

    Through Oct. 2: square product theatre company and CU Theatre & Dance's 44 Plays for 44 Presidents
    University Theatre, University of Colorado-Boulder campus, 303-492-8008 or colorado.edu

    Through Oct. 8: The Catamounts' The Taming
    At the Dairy Center for the Arts, 2590 Walnut St., Boulder, 303-440-7826, 720-468-0487 or thecatamounts.org READ MORE

    Through Oct. 8: Wide Eyed West’s theMumblings
    At The Bakery, 2132 Market St., wideeyedproductions.com READ MORE

    Through Oct 9: Roundabout Theatre Company’s Cabaret 
    Buell Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex, 14th and Curtis streets, 303-893-4100 or denvercenter.org READ MORE

    Through Oct. 9: Evergreen Chorale’s My Fair Lady
    At Center/Stage, 27608 Fireweed Drive, 303-674-4002 or evergreenchorale.org

    Through Oct. 9: Town Hall Arts Center's Once Upon a Mattress
    2450 W. Main St., Littleton, 303-794-2787 or townhallartscenter.org

    Through Oct. 9: Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company's Ripcord
    Grace Gamm Theater at the Dairy Center for the Arts, 2590 Walnut St., Boulder, 303-440-7826 or betc.org READ MORE

    Through Oct. 15: Curious Theatre's Water by the Spoonful
    1080 Acoma St., 303-623-0524 or curioustheatre.org

    Through Oct. 16: DCPA Theatre Company's The Glass Menagerie
    Ricketson Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex, 14th and Curtis streets, 303-893-4100 or denvercenter.org VIDEO

    Through Oct. 16: Bas Bleu's The Blue Flower
    401 Pine St., Fort Collins, 970-498-8949 or basbleu.org

    Through Oct. 16: Germinal Stage-Denver's The Tracks Home
    At the 73rd Avenue Playhouse, 7287 Lowell Blvd., 303-455-7108 or germinalstage.com

    Through Oct. 16: Miners Alley Playhouse's God of Carnage
    1224 Washington St., Golden, 303-935-3044 or minersalley.com READ MORE

    Through Oct. 16: Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center's Shear Madness
    30 W. Dale St., Colorado Springs, 719-634-5581 or csfineartscenter.org

    Through Oct. 16, 2016: BiTSY Stage’s The Fortune Teller's Fortune: A Tale From Nicaragua
    1137 S. Huron St. Denver, 720-328-5294 or bitsystage.com (Admission is free)

    Through Oct. 23: Vintage Theatre's The Oldest Boy (with Theatre Esprit Asia)
    1468 Dayton St., Aurora, 303-839-1361 or vintagetheatre.com

    Through Oct. 30: Vintage Theatre's Roald Dahl’s Willy Wonka, The Musical
    1468 Dayton St., Aurora, 303-839-1361 or vintagetheatre.com

    Through Nov. 5: Midtown Arts Center's Motones vs. Jerseys
    3750 S. Mason St., Fort Collins, 970-225-2555 or midtownartscenter.com

    Through Nov. 12: BDT Stage's Mid-Life 2! (#WhatDidIComeInHereFor)
    5501 Arapahoe Ave., 303-449-6000 or bdtstage.com

    Through Nov. 13: Candlelight Dinner Playhouse’s Evita
    4747 Marketplace Drive, Johnstown, 970) 744-3747 or coloradocandlelight.com

     

    ONGOING, MONTHLY or ONE-TIME PROGRAMMING:

    ADAMS MYSTERY PLAYHOUSE
    Ongoing productions
    2406 Federal Blvd., Denver, 303-455-1848 or adamsmysteryplayhouse.com

    BUNTPORT THEATRE

    Sept. 30: Untitled at the Denver Art Museum
    Oct. 8: Siren Song: A Pirate Odyssey (monthly theatre for young audiences)
    Oct. 18: The Great Debate
    Oct. 19: The Narrators (a live storytelling show and podcast)
    Oct. 21-22: So You Think You Can Watch Us Dance!
    Oct. 28: Untitled at the Denver Art Museum
    717 Lipan St., 720-946-1388 or buntport.com

    DENVER ACTORS FUND PRESENTS ...

    (Monthly film series in partnership with local theatre companies)
    Oct. 10: Night of the Living Dead
    Pre-screening entertainment by cast of Bug Theatre's current production.
    At the Alamo Drafthouse, Aspen Grove, 7301 S Santa Fe Dr, Littleton, 720-588-4107 or BUY TICKETS

    LONE TREE ARTS CENTER
    10075 Commons St., just west of Interstate 25 and Lincoln Avenue, 720-509-1000 or lonetreeartscenter.org
    Oct. 1: The Doo Wop Project
    Oct. 29: The Wonder Bread Years

    THE SOURCE THEATRE COMPANY

    Every third Monday: Monday! Monday! Monday! Cabaret
    At Su Teatro Performing Arts Center, 721 Santa Fe Drive, 720-238-1323 or thesourcedenver.org

    STORIES ON STAGE
    Oct. 14 and 16: Things That Go Bump in the Night
    *Oct. 14: 7 p.m. at the Chautauqua Community House, 301 Morning Glory Drive, Boulder, 303-440-7666 or TICKETS
    *Oct. 16: 1:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. Su Teatro Cultural and Performing Arts Center, 721 Santa Fe Drive, 303-494-0523 or TICKETS
    Selections include “The October Game” by Ray Bradbury, read by John Arp; "The Open Window” by SakiPoor, read by Adrian Egolf; "The Specialist’s Hat” by Kelly Link, read by Anne Penner



  • Mary Louise Lee returning to Denver Center roots in 'Lady Day'

    by John Moore | Sep 16, 2016

    Mary Louise Lee and Yasmine Hunter


    Mary Louise LeeMary Louise Lee will return to her professional roots next month when she appears in a special workshop production of Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill from Oct. 28-30 in the Jones Theatre.

    Lee's performing career began at the Denver Center when she appeared in Beehive at what is now the Garner-Galleria Theatre while only 18 and still a senior at Thomas Jefferson High School. She has said she considers playing Billie Holiday in a standout 2002 production of Lady Day for Shadow Theatre Company to be her most meaningful performance.

    Lady Day is a haunting portrayal of a woman with a singular singing voice — and a lethal heroin habit. During the performance, Lee tells the jazz legend's troubled life story through the songs that made her famous, including "God Bless the Child," "What a Little Moonlight Can Do," "Strange Fruit" and "Taint Nobody's Biz-ness." Set in Philadelphia in 1959, Holiday’s performance at Emerson’s Bar & Grill was one of her last. Lady Day is not just a memorable tribute to the singer, but also a moving portrait of her struggles with addiction, racism, and loss.

    Lee was named Best Actress in a Musical by Westword for her Lady Day performance in 2003. The review said: “A stunning evening of theatre. Lee's singing is absolutely radiant. Her voice is smooth as glass. At times she sounds uncannily like Holiday, at others entirely like her full-throated self.”

    Lee, who has sung the national anthem before 78,000 Denver Broncos fans and appeared on the nationally televised America’s Got Talent, returned to the DCPA in 2014 to sing with the cast of the national touring production of the Broadway musical Million Dollar Quartet onstage at the Buell Theatre. (See photo by John Moore, above right, and video, below.) And last December, Lee won a 2015 True West Award for her performance in the new musical, Uncle Jed's Barbershop.

    Read John Moore's Denver Post profile of Mary Louise Lee

    Some of Lee's other notable local theatre performances have included Vogue Theatre’s A Brief History of White Music, the Arvada Center’s The 1940s Radio Hour, Country Dinner Playhouse’s Ain’t Misbehavin', Denver Civic’s Menopause the Musical and Afterthought Theatre Company's The Wiz, as Glinda the Good Witch. She took on that role just after husband Michael B. Hancock was elected Mayor of Denver in 2011.

    She is choir Director at the New Hope Baptist Church, and founder of “Bringin’ Back the Arts," a foundation that encourages arts education in the public schools.

    A Lady Day Westword

    Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill
    Lady DayBy Lanie Robertson
    Featuring Mary Louise Lee
    Directed by Hugo Sayles
    Music Direction and Piano by Michael Williams
    Oct 28-30, 2016
    The Jones Theatre
    Tickets start at $25
    Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
    Approximately 90 minutes without intermission
    Adult language and content
    Age Recommendation: 17+

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    Video: Mary Louise Lee sings with Million Dollar Quartet:

    Video: Watch Mary Louise Lee sing 'Fools Fall in Love' with the cast of 'Million Dollar Quartet' at the Buell Theatre in 2014.

     

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    ABOUT THE EDITOR
    John Moore
    John Moore
    Award-winning arts journalist John Moore has recently taken a groundbreaking new position as the DCPA’s Senior Arts Journalist. With The Denver Post, he was named one of the 12 most influential theater critics in the US by American Theatre Magazine. He is the founder of the Denver Actors Fund, a nonprofit that raises money for local artists in medical need. John is a native of Arvada and attended Regis Jesuit High School and the University of Colorado at Boulder. Follow him on Twitter @moorejohn.

    DCPA is the nation’s largest not-for-profit theatre organization dedicated to creating unforgettable shared experiences through beloved Broadway musicals, world-class plays, educational programs and inspired events. We think of theatre as a spark of life — a special occasion that’s exciting, powerful and fun. Join us today and we promise an experience you won't soon forget.