Final show of 2021 underway at NC Theatre

Final show of 2021 underway at NC Theatre


RALEIGH, N.C. — Live theater is making a comeback, and the final show of 2021 at the North Carolina Theatre in Raleigh is underway.


What You Need To Know

  • Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill is showing at the A.J. Fletcher Opera Theater through Nov. 14
  • The play tells the story of Billie Holiday and her pianist, who is played by a Lenoir County native
  • The North Carolina Theatre has experienced last-minute ticket buying as people start to return to live entertainment venues
  • Masks are required inside, and audience members are required to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination or a negative test

Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill opened at the A.J. Fletcher Opera Theater on Nov. 5. The play tells the story of the great jazz singer, Billie Holiday, and her pianist, Jimmy Powers, who is played by a Lenoir County native.

“I just have a connection to the piano because it’s the first thing I understood, musically. To be able to do this and speak through that is full circle,” Nygel D. Robinson, the performer who plays Powers, said.

Robinson is from La Grange, a small town about an hour from Raleigh.

“It’s so nice to come back home to people who support you blindly while you pursue these wild things,” Robinson said.

Instead of just a musician or an actor, he considers himself a performer.

“It’s just so nice to watch people enjoy what’s going on and to know that I am like a source of some of that happiness that they are experiencing today in this very specific moment,” Robinson said.

Robinson believes having a range of skills helped him during the pandemic, when live entertainment venues shut down.

“I’ve been very blessed, and it’s weird to say blessed and pandemic in the same sentence, but I’ve been lucky in the pandemic to be able to stay active,” Robinson said.

The pandemic was also a time to reflect on the privilege of events like plays and concerts.

“[People] won’t take it for granted. I know I won’t. I’m not going to complain about going to rehearsal anymore. I’m not going to complain about two show days. I’m not going to complain about anything because it can just go away like that,” Robinson said. “I think audiences will be more appreciative of live theater because it was just stripped away.”

Robinson says this story about Holiday is one that needs to be heard.

“People don’t know about her musicianship and her story and the woman was the granddaughter of a former slave and dealing with Jim Crow America as a Black singer and touring through the South. People just need to come and listen and experience what she experienced so we can have a little more empathy,” Robinson said.

Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill will be at the Fletcher Theater in Raleigh through Nov. 14. Masks are required inside and audience members are required to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test.

Elizabeth Doran, the president and CEO of the North Carolina Theatre, says she has noticed a positive response to their shows so far this year.

“What we’ve seen is a sudden uptick. As delta came down, our sales went boom. They really flew up so quickly that it took us by surprise. We ran out of Playbills, and we tried to fit everyone in. So I think we’re still going to see that trajectory,” Doran said. “I’m hopeful we’ll just keep pouncing back up again, but right now people are still a bit careful.”

“When we get closer to opening night, boom,” she said. “The ticket sales blossom — a little last-minute buying. It’s a great weekend to just come to the theater last minute. We’re seeing some of that and we welcome that.”

Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill is the North Carolina Theatre’s last show of 2021, but there are three other shows scheduled for 2022.





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