Barrington Stage Company Kicks Off 25th Anniversary Season with “Gail Nelson Sings Billie Holiday”

(Pittsfield, MA) Celebrating its 25th Anniversary Season, Barrington Stage Company (BSC), the award-winning theatre in the Berkshires under the leadership of Artistic Director Julianne Boyd, is thrilled to present “Gail Nelson Sings Billie Holiday” on June 1 and June 3 at Mr. Finn’s Cabaret.

In 1995 Barrington Stage Company presented the hit musical, “Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill” at The Macano Inn in Housatonic, MA. Directed by Rob Ruggiero, “Lady Day” was the first production presented by Barrington Stage Company. Gail Nelson starred as legendary jazz singer Billie Holiday and Danny Holgate, noted jazz pianist, played her accompanist Jimmy Powers.

“Lady Day” proved to be such a big hit that BSC reprised it in the fall of 1995, 1996, 2002 and 2007.

Performances of “Gail Nelson Sings Billie Holiday” are Saturday, June 1 at 9:30pm and June 3 at 8:00pm at Mr. Finn’s Cabaret (36 Linden Street). Tickets are $45 by calling 413-236-8888 or online at www.barringtonstageco.org.

Accompanied by Howard Begun on piano and Will Hack on bass, Gail’s performance offers a poignant glimpse behind the life of an American icon. Audiences can expect to hear such Holiday classics as “God Bless the Child,” “When a Woman Loves a Man” and “Strange Fruit.”

“Gail Nelson Sings Billie Holiday” is sponsored by Mike and David Faust & Karen and Bob Youdelman. The 2019 Mr. Finn’s Cabaret Season is sponsored by Renee and Steven Finn.

Billie Holiday was born in April 1915 and became one of the first and greatest jazz singers of all time. In the 1930s “Lady Day” became a sensation at New York’s jazz club, The Apollo, and some of her signature tunes include “Fine and Mellow,” “God Bless the Child,” “Good Morning Heartache” and her biggest hit, “Lover Man.” Her addiction to heroin and opium as well as excessive drinking sparked a rapid decline in health, and the multi-talented but troubled Holiday died tragically in July 1959.

Gail Nelson, the versatile singer-actress is equally at home with opera, Broadway, theatre and clubs. She hails from North Carolina and Maryland. Ms. Nelson’s New York credits include: Broadway’s The Tap Dance Kid; Applause; Hello, Dolly!; On the Town; Eubie!; Music! Music!; By Strouse and Radio City Music Hall’s The Ginger Rogers Special. Her appearances in straight plays include: The World of Carl Sandburg, Beyond Measure and Love Letters.

Her touring credits include: Bubbling Brown Sugar; Houston Grand Opera’s Porgy and Bess (Bess); Funny, You Don’t Look Like a Grandmother; Cookin’ at the Cookery, Cleveland Playhouse; Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill (Billie Holiday), performed at the Vancouver Arts Club, Hartford Theatre Works, Barrington Stage, Merrimack Repertory Theatre, American Festival Stage, Vermont’s Peterborough Players, Provincetown Theatre, The Atlanta Black Theatre Festival. Ms. Nelson has performed in the popular song revues: This Joint is Jumping; Puttin’ On the Ritz; Gershwin and Friends and, in concert, Billie Holiday, Remembered. She performed in the musical King (Coretta Scott King), by Maya Angelou, for the second Inauguration of President Bill Clinton and the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in Washington, D.C. (seen on C-SPAN TV).

Her nightclub and concert engagements have taken her to the Catskills and Florida Circuits and as a popular guest entertainer on Holland America, Seabourn, Cunard, Silver Sea, Regency and Crystal cruise lines. She’s performed at Casino de Monte Carlo, Spokane Jazz Society Orchestra, North Carolina Jazz Society in Durham, the New York/Long Island Public Library jazz concert series, Sarasota Performing Artists series and New York Cabaret Clubs.

A graduate of Oberlin College with a Masters from New England Conservatory, Ms. Nelson teaches voice privately in New York City and has taught at Sarah Lawrence College and Manhattan School of Music Preparatory School. She was married to the late pianist-arranger, Danny Holgate.

BARRINGTON STAGE COMPANY

Barrington Stage Company (BSC) is an award-winning regional theatre located in Pittsfield, MA, in the heart of the Berkshires. Co-founded in 1995 by Artistic Director Julianne Boyd, BSC has a three-fold mission: to present top-notch, compelling work; to develop new plays and musicals; and to find fresh, bold ways of bringing new audiences into the theatre—especially young people.

Barrington Stage commissioned and produced the world premiere of Christopher Demos-Brown’s American Son, which also won the Laurents/Hatcher Award as Best New Play in 2016 and recently concluded a Broadway run, starring Kerry Washington. American Son was later made into a Netflix movie, and will soon be released nationally.

Barrington Stage first garnered national attention in 2004 when it premiered William Finn and Rachel Sheinkin’s musical hit The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, which later transferred to Broadway where it won two Tony Awards. In 2009, BSC premiered Mark St. Germain’s Freud’s Last Session, which later moved Off Broadway and played for two years. St. Germain’s Becoming Dr. Ruth (which premiered at BSC as Dr. Ruth, All the Way) played Off Broadway at the Westside Theatre. BSC’s all-time record-breaking musical On the Town was originally produced at BSC in 2013 before transferring to Broadway, where it was nominated for four Tony Awards including Best Musical Revival. In 2016, Barrington Stage swept the first annual Berkshire Theatre Awards by winning 20 out of the 25 awards. In 2017, BSC produced the much-lauded revival of Stephen Sondheim and George Furth’s Company, starring Aaron Tveit. In 2018, BSC produced the critically-acclaimed production of West Side Story in honor of Leonard Bernstein and Jerome Robbins’ 100th birthdays. BSC has won the Best of the Berkshires Readers’ Choice for Best Live Theatre for the past two years. 2019 marks BSC’s 25th Season Anniversary.

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