Los Angeles Concert Preview: AUDRA MCDONALD: ONE NIGHT ONLY (Dorothy Chandler Pavilion)

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by Tony Frankel on October 23, 2013

in Theater-Los Angeles,Tours


The captivating singer and actress Audra McDonald performed last September at the SF Symphony gala opening, sharing the program with two orchestral works. At one point, she sang the Bernstein/Comden/Green tune “I’m a Little Bit in Love” from Wonderful Town: “Mm–mmm! / It’s so nice to be alive / When you find someone Audra McDonald - photo by Michael Wilsonwho bewitches you.” While her set was comparatively short compared to her upcoming One Night Only concert at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, she was utterly bewitching and I must admit that I’m a little bit in love with her.

I had the privilege of seeing Ms. McDonald’s Tony-winning performances in Carousel, Master Class and Ragtime, but it was her turn as Clara in Passion at Chicago’s Ravinia Festival that proved McDonald is, as Stephen Sondheim maintains, “one of the glories of the American theater.” Not only is she a refined singer with a golden voice of purity and control, but she makes every song a story unto its own. Stage and Cinema’s review of her performance in Porgy and Bess states: “McDonald exudes a warmth and humanity that is only matched by her tremendous vocal power and terrific acting chops.” For her role as Bess, McDonald won her fifth Tony, tying with Angela Lansbury and Julie Harris for most wins by an actress.

For her LA Opera-presented concert on Saturday Oct. 26 – part of a 22-city, North American concert tour – McDonald will be escorted by an astounding trio: Gene Lewin on drums, Mark Vanderpoel on bass, and Music Director Andy Einhorn, one of the most sensitive piano accompanists I have ever heard. LA Opera patrons may remember that the two-time Grammy Award-winning McDonald made her 2007 Company debut starring as Jenny in Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny, but aside from opera and Broadway she also has a fruitful television career. She just Audra McDonald - photo by Autumn de Wildewrapped up her fourth season on the hit ABC television series Private Practice. Since she’ll be playing Mother Abbess in NBC’s live production of The Sound of Music on Dec. 5 opposite Carrie Underwood as Maria, we can only hope she’ll perform “Climb Ev’ry Mountain.”

Even if the nun’s song doesn’t appear, you can expect favorite showtunes during this intimate evening, along with classic songs from the movies, choices from the Great American Songbook, and original pieces written especially for her, including many songs featured on her new solo album, Go Back Home. Sure, she has a set list, but I have seen her in concert suddenly change her mind and shift things around. Unlike singers who do the exact same set, she knows how to keep things fresh.

photos by Michael Wilson and Autumn de Wilde

Audra McDonald: One Night Only
presented by LA Opera
Dorothy Chandler Pavilion
Saturday, October 26, 2013, at 7:30pm
for tickets, call 213.972.8001 or visit http://www.laopera.com

tour continues through January 18, 2014
for cities and more info, visit http://audramcdonald.net/

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