About the Show
BILLIE! BACKSTAGE WITH LADY DAY......... ....... is a two-act play, written by Synthia L. Hardy and directed by Bryan Rasmussen combines storytelling and song to capture the essence of Billie Holiday’s music and life.
Written and performed by Synthia L. hardy and a jazz quartet, the show is part documentary, part concert.
**Winner of two NAACP Awards - "Best One-Person Show" and best "Musical Director".
Portraying Holiday in the mid -1950s, Hardy starts the play by storming up a side aisle from the lobby muttering a stream of obscenities at those who have wronged her. She then. downs two large glasses of vodka before acknowledging the audience who have arrived. It's a bold beginning to a fascinating play.
In the first act, Holiday prepares for her a concert she is about to perform 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.
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.
Synthia L. Hardy Writer and Preformer
Synthia is an award winning actress/singer/dancer/writer who has appeared on film, T.V., commercials (both radio and T.V.) and on stages, nationally and internationally. She received the NAACP Theatre Award for Best One Person Show for the show she wrote and performed in, "BILLIE! BACKSTAGE WITH LADY DAY", about the legendary Billie Holiday. For the same show, Synthia, also, received two Artistic Director's Achievement Awards (ADA) for Best Actress in a Musical/Comedy and Best One Person Show.
Synthia received an Emmy Award for the PBS documentary, "Precious Memories: Strolling 47th Street". She has received various other awards for her talents. Synthia has written and performs her own cabaret show, "Dinner Musicale with Synthia & Friends". She's toured performing in Motown and Oldies Tributes.
Performing as Billie Holiday is such a joy for Synthia. The familiar and unfamiliar stories told that are shared in this show makes one sing, fall in love, laugh, cry, get angry and feel the pain of Billiie Holiday. Synthia is so blessed to be doing what she loves in the entertainment field. It allows her to travel, meet interesting new people and touch people's hearts.
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 Itchy 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.