Billie Holiday’s arduous life stands as a sobering contrast to her sublime music. This paradox is poignantly explored by playwright Lanie Robertson in Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill. The play recreates one of the final performances of the 44-year-old singer. Through an evocative sampling of iconic songs (including “Strange Fruit,” “God Bless the Child,” and “When a Man Loves a Woman”), Holiday confides in the audience with personal accounts of the record industry’s predatory practices, the abject racism she endured on the road, a harrowing succession of abusive relationships, and the crippling addictions that would ultimately lead to her tragic death. Depicting such a complex figure requires exceptional insight, an empathetic point Jungle Theater has ensured with the casting of Thomasina Petrus. A Twin Cities native renowned for her indelible talents, Petrus is both an acclaimed actor and a skilled jazz vocalist, having even recorded her own Holiday tribute album, If Only... Billie Unsung. Under the direction of Marion McClinton and supported by a live rhythm trio, this production offers a heartfelt reminder that the most sorrowful experiences can inspire the most beautiful music.