It’s 1959 and jazz legend Billie Holiday is playing a seedy bar in Philadelphia. It will be one of her last performances. As she shares stories about her stormy personal life, her battle with addiction and her ground-breaking vocal style, she also, of course, sings.
Featuring a sensational score, including “God Bless The Child”, “What a Little Moonlight Can Do” and “Strange Fruit”, this haunting play with captivating insights of the life of one of the greatest jazz singers of all time, is not to be missed.
FRANCESCA HARPER (Billie Holiday)
Harper is an internationally acclaimed multi-faceted artist. After being named Presidential Scholar in the Arts and performing at the White House, Harper performed soloist roles with the Dance Theater of Harlem and spent several years as a principal in William Forsythe's Ballet Frankfurt. Her Broadway credits include Fosse, The Producers, All Shook Up, The Frogs and the Tony Award winning treasure The Color Purple. She was also a featured performer in Zinnias – The Life of Clementine Hunter directed by Robert Wilson, with Libretto by Civil Rights Activist Bernice Reagon. Her Principal acting roles include starring opposite Molly Ringwald in Sweet Charity and performing the role of Judith originated on Broadway by Judith Jamison in Sophisticated Ladies. Most recently she was invited to develop a new character for the show / experience Sleep No More as well as perform a secondary role. She is a featured Jazz Vocalist fronting their Jazz Band as well as singing and accompanying herself on piano, as Cecilia Robertson, aka Ceci.
Her TV appearances include two episodes of Boardwalk Empire, David Letterman and The Oprah Winfrey Show. Harper also served as ballet consultant for the feature film, "Black Swan," by Darren Aronofsky, starring Natalie Portman, who went on to win an Oscar. Harper has choreographed works for Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Ailey II, Tanz Graz, Hubbard Street II, Dallas Black Dance Theater, and her own company, The Francesca Harper Project, which was founded in 2005. The Francesca Harper Project (FHP) has toured Nationally and Internationally. Venues include the Holland Dance Festival, and Venice Biennale, NJPAC, The Joyce Theater, and The Met Museum. FHP was a New York Magazine critic’s pick.
Billie Holiday Francesca Harper*
Jimmy Powers Nygel Robinson*
Director Jarvis Green
Dramaturg Samantha Lazar
Lighting Designer John Forbes
Sound Engineer Tim Mikovitz
Set Designer/Master Carpenter Christian Kohn
Music Director Jeff Bolding
Drummer Jasper Williamson
Original Costume Design Holly Levison
Production Stage Manager Cat Hickerson
Production Assistant Monica Derr
Associate Producer/Company Manager Nathaniel Ryan
Marketing Intern Dee Johnson
Producing Intern Aidan Ellis
*Member of Actors Equity Association
Lanie Robertson (Playwright)
Lanie Robertson writes about iconic artists and the societal issues they faced in Nasty Little Secrets, Alfred Stiegletz Loves O’Keeffe, and Woman Before a Glass. His plays have been produced internationally and at the Alley Theatre, Arena Stage, Delaware Theatre, Edinburgh Festival, Festival d’Avignon, George Street Playhouse, Kennedy Center, Old Globe, Philadelphia Theatre Company, Playwrights Horizons, Primary Stages, Theatre de la Huchette, Theatre Petite Montparnasse, Theatre Silvia Montforte, Vineyard Theatre, Virginia Stage, Walnut Street Theatre, Westside Arts, and Williamstown Theatre Festival. Current plays include nobody Lonesome for Me and The Gardener. Recently he completed his first novel, Monkey to the Solution. He’s a member of the Dramatists Guild, Writers Guild, East; and the Societe des Auteres et Compositeurs Dramatiques.
Nygel D. Robinson (Jimmy Powers)
Robinson is an Actor/Singer/Songwriter based in NYC. His recent theatre credits include ‘Blue Suede Shoes’ (Florida Studio Theatre), Joe Perkins in ‘Freedom Riders’ (NYMF), Brian in ‘Woody’ (NYMF), and Ensemble/Horse u/s in 'The Full Monty’ (John W. Engeman Theatre). To God be the glory. For Emma and Dianne.
Jeff Bolding (Musical Director)
2015 AUDELCO winner, "Outstanding Musical Director" for "FLAMBEAUX", Obsidian Media Group Productions (OMG) Larry Floyd, Director/Co-composer, is a native of Washington, DC, is a three time AUDELCO winner and honored to have received his first AUDELCO in the original cast of “GREAT MEN OF GOSPEL”, Elizabeth Van Dyke, Author/Director, Woodie King, Producer, New Federal Theatre (2002). This production was recently rereleased in concert format and performed in NJ, November 2017. Other AUDELCO wins include best ensemble production of revised "Ain't Nothing But the Blues", (2010), serving as Musical Director (nominated for best MD). Jeff served 20 years in music ministry at The Abyssinian Baptist Church and was the director/pianist for The Chancel Choir and Inspirational Voices (see document, Performance Report with Abyssinian Baptist Church, NY, NY.) Other 2015 projects include "The First Lady", (OMG), "The Flip Side of the Coin", Miss Hazel's House of Heavenly Rest, and most recently, "To You, Mr. Hughes", (April 2018),Hazel Rosetta Smith writer/director, (Help Somebody Ministries), GreenFaith/OurVoices Song Leader for "One World, One Family" climate March, Rome, Italy (June 2015), song contributor/ensemble member on recording/concert tour "Pray for Peace" in Japan, commemorating the 70th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki with Pastor Terrance Kennedy's "New Hope for the World Ministries", and served as Director, The Interchurch Center Gospel Choir. Jeff served seven seasons as Musical Director for Harlem School of the Arts, Christmas extravaganza, “Soul Nativity”, Traci Johnson, Alfred Preisser, Writers/Directors. Jeff is pleased to announce his first upcoming cd, video, and workshop/concert tour, "Lighting the Way" which includes inspirational music for the multi-faith/environmental movement (release date, 2019).