Review By Caroline Hanks-Farmer
Let’s face it, you do not win 6 Tony Awards for being average, you win them for being sensational. Proving in no uncertain terms that she is truly worthy of these wins is Audra McDonald who is playing just four concerts at the Leicester Square Theatre until 15th April.
Hosting and accompanying Audra on the piano is composer Seth Rudetsky. Also joining McDonald was husband Will Swenson, himself Tony nominated. This was set to be quite an evening. A relaxed and intimate atmosphere with numbers intercepted by chat and an insight into the person behind all those awards.
Born into a musical family, McDonald grew up in Fresno, California, and received her classical vocal training at the Juilliard School. We heard how while McDonald received core training classically, her passion is firmly founded in the not so serious musical theatre and acting. McDonald told us she enjoys and appreciates watching Opera but no longer wishes to necessarily sing it herself.
To say I was literally blown away with McDonald’s stunning vocal range would be an understatement. The evening really did feel, to a certain extent, unscripted and it is said that all four concerts are going to be different.
12/4 Set list
When did I fall in love?
I Won’t Mind
I Could Have Danced
Stars and the Moon
Craig’s List Lieder
Moments in the woods
Maybe this time
Pirate King – Will Swenson
You Don’t Bring Me Flowers – Duet Swenson and McDonald
I’ll Be Here
Climb every mountain
Particular highlights for me were, I Could Have Danced, the amusing Craig’s List Lieder which demonstrated that McDonald can make even the most mundane eclectic collection of words sound incredible. The duet with her immensely talented husband Swenson in You Don’t Bring Me Flowers, added humour. It showed their complete harmonious chemistry, in life as well as performance. The sublimely sung Summertime and McDonald definitely a channeled her inner Liza for Maybe this time.
I’ll Be Here by composer Adam Gwon is really poignant and particularly relevant in light of the recent terrorist attack on London. Gwon won the Fred Ebb award in 2008 and this song from his musical Ordinary Days is about 9/11. McDonald’s tenderness and ability to make you feel every note sung, is sheer heaven.
The chat in between the songs delved into the person behind the voice and I enjoyed the questions asked by Rudetsky. I won’t give away too much but stories of her early life, Julie Andrews, Liza Minnelli and Barbara Streisand, brought a humility. Along with an obvious appreciation of where she is in her life now.
Prepare to be dazzled by charismatic charm with sublimely phenomenal vocals, effortlessly delivering a set of interesting and old favourites.
Quite simply Audra McDonald is too good to miss!
Not an experience to be missed Book here for tickets http://www.leicestersquaretheatre.com/
Do not forget that Audra McDonald will be returning to London in June where she is opening in the Billie Holiday biopic Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill at the Wyndham’s Theatre – Search for tickets HERE