We understand that Chanel, who plays Billie Holiday at Zach Theatre, comes from a singing, not an acting background. You wouldn’t believe that after you’ve seen her tear up the stage as the jazz legend.

Chanel as Billie Holiday at Zach Theatre. Contributed by Kirk Tuck

Here’s a snippet from my preview:

FULL STORY: Billie Holiday is back in town, this time at Zach Theatre.

“Holiday had an intuitive sense of timing and phrasing,” says the show’s music director, Allen Robertson. “Chanel has captured the spirit of that phrasing. We’re not trying to do a museum piece. She doesn’t imitate her voice. Instead, we are exploring the nature of Holiday’s musicality.”

Here’s a snippet from Andrew J. Friedenthal’s review:

FULL STORY: Actress commands stage as Billie Holiday at Zach Theatre.

Chanel is a dynamic performer, both as an impressionist channeling Holiday’s voice and as a spectacular vocalist in her own right, but she gives “Lady Day” its power most forcefully in the deft way she displays Holiday’s struggle to shine through the adversity she had faced all her life. There is a simplicity to her performance that allows the depth of Holiday’s pain to shine through in moving and powerful ways.