Oceanside Theatre Company Presents San Diego Premiere of Billie! Backstage with Lady Day September 23 – October 2 at the Brooks Theater
Synthia L. Hardy brings the story of Billie Holiday to life in vibrant show
(Oceanside, CA) – Playwright, actress, and singer Synthia L. Hardy performs in Billie! Backstage with Lady Day at the historic Brooks Theater in downtown Oceanside. Performances will take place on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from September 23 to October 2. Friday and Saturday performances are at 8 p.m. Sunday performances are at 2 p.m. Tickets are $35 and available online at OceansideTheatre.org or by calling the box office at 760-433-8900.
“After running for over a decade in Los Angeles, we are honored to share this unique and intimate look into Billie Holiday’s fascinating life with San Diego audiences,” said Oceanside Theater Company’s Managing Director, Alex Goodman.
The two-act play, written by Synthia L. Hardy and directed by Bryan Rasmussen, which premiered at The Whitefire Theater in 2010 and has enjoyed annual encore performances in Los Angeles, combines storytelling and song to capture the essence of Billie Holiday’s music and life. In the first act, Holiday prepares for her show while answering the questions of two unseen reporters. Hardy as Holiday entwines her biography and explanations of the inspiration for and history of her music with performances of her popular numbers. Musician Woody Woods joins Hardy on stage as Holiday’s pianist accompanying her through hits including the haunting “Strange Fruit,” as well as “God Bless the Child,” “Good Morning Heartache,” and “Lover Man.”
One of the greatest jazz and blues performers of all time, Holiday unfolds the truth about her turbulent life – combating racism, navigating abusive relationships, and enduring multiple arrests. “Details build methodically and meaningfully through Hardy’s intense, intimate portrait and enrich one’s understanding of Holiday’s bitter yet compromised attitude,” said Don Grigware, of GrigwareTalksTheatre.com.
In the second act, Hardy embodies Lady Day, (a nickname given to Holiday by musician Lester Young), in a concert of her hits that includes “’Ain’t Nobody’s Business If I Do” and “Willow, Weep for Me.” Through a voice reminiscent of Holiday’s with its raspy edge and incorporation of crying and wailing, Hardy portrays the iconic artist as simultaneously classy and tough, vulnerable and versatile, hopeful at times and hopeless at others, but most of all, full of heart and sympathy.
As Holiday, Hardy is “a dynamo, with a sparkling yet demure stage presence, in her own right,” according to a Tolucan Times review.
Hardy won the NAACP Theatre Award for Best One Person Show, as well as two Artistic Director Achievement Awards (A.D.A.) – Best Actress in a Musical or Comedy and Best One Person Show – for Billie! Backstage With Lady Day.
About Writer and Performer Synthia L. Hardy
Emmy Award-winner Synthia L. Hardy has appeared in film, T.V., commercials and on stage nationally and internationally – most recently in the film, Sylvie’s Love. In addition to her NAACP Theatre Awards and Artistic Director Achievement Awards for Billie! Backstage With Lady Day, Hardy won an Emmy Award for the documentary, “Precious Memories: A Stroll Down 47th Street.” Her other awards and nominations include another NAACP Theatre Award, Dramalogue Critics Award (twice), and LA Weekly Award. Originally from Chicago, Hardy has appeared in a variety of works including Home, Merry Wives of Windsor, Flyin’ West; Rap Master Ronnie, The Little Dreamer: A Night in the Life of Bessie Smith and A Corner of Gold. As a singer, she toured with various Oldies and Doo Wop tribute groups. She has also written and starred in her own cabaret show, Dinner Musicale with Synthia & Friends.
About Director Bryan Rasmussen
An award-winning actor, director, producer, teacher, coach and Artistic Director of The Whitefire Theatre, Bryan has produced over 200 shows including over 50 world premieres. He recently directed the world premiere solo show Evolution of Soul 685 and the solo-musical Down the Rabbit Hole with pop star Erin Jividen, which opened off-Broadway. He also founded the famous Itchey Foot Cabaret in downtown L.A. His work includes: directing and starring in the 50th Anniversary production of Harold Pinter’s The Dumb Waiter, directing the world premieres of the eco-musical Season of Change and Mark Twain in the 21st Century, producing Judy Tenuda’s Mountain Girl Musical, directing his critically-acclaimed version of Blood Brothers, and is currently performing in and producing Shorts. On screen, he has been seen on Southland, Scandal, Bones, The Mentalist and countless others.
About Oceanside Theatre Company
Oceanside Theatre Company (OTC), the resident professional theater company operating the Historic Brooks Theater in downtown Oceanside, is a focal point of the Oceanside California Cultural District (OCCD). OTC’s mission is to produce professional theatrical, visual art and musical productions for the entertainment and enrichment of the community, present educational opportunities in the arts for children and adult, and provide a safe, state-of-the-art public venue for expansion of artistic endeavors in North San Diego County and greater southern California. OTC produces a four-show mainstage theatre season in the 198-seat venue, as well as a Music Series, play readings and various other events in the adjacent black box theater, Studio 219. An important part of OTC’s mission is inspiring and sharing the arts with local youth through the Youth Theater Arts Program, which includes Summer Theater Camps and Youth Theater Arts Outreach in partnership with Boys & Girls Clubs of Oceanside during the school year. To learn more visit www.oceansidetheatre.org.
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