About Time You Saw: Audra McDonald in ConcertBy Gilly Hopper
AU-D-RA. YOU. ARE. IT!!
Audra McDonald In Concert is a testimony to her brightly shining stardom. As the Broadway veteran muses on meeting her idols (none of whom disappointed her) I sat gleeful in Leicester Square Theatre, encountering one of mine (who also, for the record, did not disappoint.)
The songbook for Audra McDonald In Concert is a catalogue of some of Audra’s best-loved works, ranging from Sondheim and Jason Robert Brown to Lerner and Loewe (the pianist and MC, Seth Rudestky, cited Loesser but we will forgive a man, who is as funny and talented as Seth and happens to be pals with Patti LuPone, for the oversight.)
The love and friendship shared between MC and pianist Seth Rudestky and Audra is palpable and makes for a wonderful evening of tongue in cheek interchange, giggles and witticisms. The love from the stalls was pretty intense too.
The night runs thusly – 90 minutes, preceded by a queue outside paired with a building and fervent hype for Audra as passersby question if that endless line stretching way into China Town is the returns queue for Audra McDonald? (It wasn’t but by Saturday it very well might be!) Once inside the format went as follows: song, followed by Q&A, followed by a flip-flop sequence between the two. Expect a guest appearance from Audra’s husband, and Broadway talent, Will Swenson and then it’s back to Audra for the finale.
Audra didn’t sing any Ragtime (sadtimes) but she was stunning in all her masks… and characters… and timbres. Her bellowing chest notes as Sally Bowles in Cabaret’s Maybe This Time are counteracted in her melodious mocking in the questionable lied Craig’s List (shout out to her Juilliard education.) She brought new talent to the stage, and heralded Gilbert and Sullivan alike. As her teenager and newborn waited backstage, Audra delivered a stunning rendition of Ordinary Mothers. With humour and those humongous lungs, the six-time Tony winner performed powerful rendition after powerful rendition with sass, songfulness and scintillation.
Currently preparing for her West End debut as Billie Holiday in Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill at the Wyndham Theatre this June, a ticket to anything starring Audra McDonald is a hot ticket to have. For a taster of Audra in all her divine Broadway goddess glory Audra McDonald In Concert is a must. The show changes nightly so in the words of Annie… I’ll see you “tomorrow.”