My Friend Lester

A gentle, low-key musical exploring the relationship between jazz stars Billie Holiday and Lester Young, My Friend Lester offers an hour of soulful music against a story of struggling love.

A very enjoyable piece of theatre with the added privilege of offering beautiful music by talented musicians, a sure-fire success in any Holiday fan’s eyes.

The show was structured around performances of Holiday’s songs bookended by monologues and short dialogues between the characters. No song was out of place and the story’s circular narrative tied the piece up cleverly by the end. However, the show is undoubtedly geared towards those with prior knowledge of Holiday’s life and music; the approach they took towards her extremely troubled life was also perhaps a little too sweet, leaving the you less affected than you could have been.

The intimate Dukebox Theatre lent itself well to the intimacy of the story itself. The simplistic set piece – just a black dress and white gloves on a hanger – meant that your focus was entirely on the faultless music, which was arguably the most important element in both the story and Holiday and Young’s lives. Beautiful and melancholic, real-life couple Maria McAteer and Bjorn Dahlberg offered great renditions of Billie Holiday’s songs, showcasing their skill as a singer and saxophonist respectively.

The musical offered context to McAteer and Dahlberg’s honeymoon, which was a nice detail but felt as if it would have belonged more naturally at the end. It blurred the line between their real relationship and the musicians’ relationship they were trying to portray, making it difficult to become completely immersed in their performance. Overall, it was a very enjoyable piece of theatre with the added privilege of offering beautiful music by talented musicians, a sure-fire success in any Holiday fan’s eyes.

Reviews by Lois Zoppi

Sweet Werks 2

Good Grief

Sweet Werks 1

The Hunters of Ghost Hall

Middle Street Synagogue

Middle Street Synagogue Open Days

MEET: Outside Old Ship Hotel

The Subversive Sussex Walk


Since you’re here…

… we have a small favour to ask. We don't want your money to support a hack's bar bill at Abattoir, but if you have a pound or two spare, we really encourage you to support a good cause. If this review has either helped you discover a gem or avoid a turkey, consider doing some good that will really make a difference.

You can donate to the charity of your choice, but if you're looking for inspiration, there are three charities we really like.

Mama Biashara
Kate Copstick’s charity, Mama Biashara, works with the poorest and most marginalised people in Kenya. They give grants to set up small, sustainable businesses that bring financial independence and security. That five quid you spend on a large glass of House White? They can save someone’s life with that. And the money for a pair of Air Jordans? Will take four women and their fifteen children away from a man who is raping them and into a new life with a moneymaking business for Mum and happiness for the kids.
Donate to Mama Biashara now

Theatre MAD
The Make A Difference Trust fights HIV & AIDS one stage at a time. Their UK and International grant-making strategy is based on five criteria that raise awareness, educate, and provide care and support for the most vulnerable in society. A host of fundraising events, including Bucket Collections, Late Night Cabarets, West End Eurovision, West End Bares and A West End Christmas continue to raise funds for projects both in the UK and Sub-Saharan Africa.
Donate to Theatre MAD now

Acting For Others
Acting for Others provides financial and emotional support to all theatre workers in times of need through the 14 member charities. During the COVID-19 crisis Acting for Others have raised over £600,000 to support theatre workers affected by the pandemic.
Donate to Acting For Others now



The Blurb

Billie Holiday and saxophonist Lester Young played and recorded such achingly beautiful music together it was impossible for many to believe they were not lovers. This magical story tells the untold tale of their romance through some of their own words and the songs they recorded together. Friends? Soulmates? Lovers? The answers are in their music. Sold out Brighton Fringe 2013!

Most Popular See More

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat

From £13.00

More Info

Find Tickets


From £31.00

More Info

Find Tickets

The Lion King

From £45.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Heathers The Musical

From £18.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Only Fools and Horses - The Musical

From £27.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Tina - The Tina Turner Musical

From £13.00

More Info

Find Tickets