An Audience with

Billie Holiday:


"An Audience With Billie Holiday'' is a compelling and moving musical stage play, written by award-winning playwright Neil Cole and starring acclaimed Melbourne-based cabaret performer, Mama Alto as Billie Holiday, accompanied by multi-award winning composer, pianist and musical director Warren Wills.


The legendary jazz singer,Billie Holiday was one of the greatestsingers of all time, and had a seminal influence

on jazz and pop music. Her tumultuous background as

a black woman brought up in abject poverty in early

20th century, underwrote her unique singing ability.

"An Audience With Billie Holiday” is a tribute to the woman they called “Lady Day”; told in the first person

by Mama Alto as the great artist, the story focuses on

her development as a singer, her tragic back story that

shaped her personality, talent and success,and the

songs that saw her achieve unprecedented popularity.


The mesmerizing Mama Alto is known in Melbourne as

the “The Countertenor Diva “ performing regularly at

The Butterfly Club and a must-see at Melbourne Cabaret Festival & Melbourne Fringe Festival. Mama’s recent

show, “Countertenor Diva” recently thrilled audiences

and critics alike at the Perth and Adelaide Fringe

festivals, garnering four star reviews:


Mama Alto - Billie Holiday.


MAMA  ALTO is a jazz singer, cabaret artiste, and a countertenor diva. Mama Alto (Benny Dimas) is  a unique songstress with a voice that transcends gender.


“Opening my mouth, singing with my voice, is an act of transgression against  traditional gendered vocal roles, and indeed, of traditional expectations of gender constructed by society".


The voice of Mama Alto – my voice – is a voice that defies gender, the (ascribed to be)

female voice of the contralto or mezzo-soprano within the body of what is (ascribed

to be) a man.”


Drawing on the perceived difference – as a countertenor, as queer, and as a person of colour

– Mama Alto rejoices in individuality to embrace the identity of a vintage torch-singing diva.


"The entire experience was intriguing; her performance is at the same time strong and fragile,  her voice a beautiful instrument that challenges perceptions of gender and

identity. 4 STARS ."(RIP IT UP Magazine, Adelaide)


"From an ethereal whisper to a full-bodied bellow, each crescendo feels organic."

(the music.com.au)



Neil Cole - Playwright.


PLAYWRIGHT Neil Cole has had seventeen plays produced in Melbourne, Sydney

and Brisbane and Chicago including 'Alive at Williamstown Pier;' 'A Policewoman’s

Absurdity; 'Billy Possible;' 'Dr Cade,' 'The Campaign,' 'Personality Games'

which he  co-wrote with Prof. Gordon Parker from the Black Dog Institute in Sydney,

and  'The Trial of Adolf Eichmann' and more recently  'Every Grain of Sand'

and  'Nina Simone Black Diva Power'. He has won the new writing for theatre

in  1999 and was shortlisted for the Victorian Premiers Literary Award in 2001.




REVIEWS : An Audience With Billie Holiday


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