Not even the heat and rising temperatures could keep the crowds away from Wolf Trap Monday night to hear the multi-talented Audra McDonald sing an extremely vigorous program. Both entertaining and entrancing Audra McDonald sang songs from well-known Broadway shows as well as new songs that will surly find their way into the hearts of many.
After spending the past week on tour in London, Audra McDonald gave an outstanding performance. From her very first note to her final bow, Mrs. McDonald had me and my guest on the edge of our seats wanting more of the never-ending excitement. Just when we thought we’d seen everything she could do, she turned around and showed off not only her voice, but also her comedic talents and charm.
Opening the night with “When Did I Fall In Love” it is clear from the start that Audra is a powerful performer, because even the opening drew standing ovations from the energetic crowd. The show was packed with favorites from all the well-known composers such as: Rodgers and Hammerstein, Lerner and Loewe, Cole Porter and Kander and Ebb among many others.
The show was filled with personal stories about Audra’s life and how she came to be where she is. Happy and sad stories where intertwined between songs of hope and change. Audra’s moto, “Make Someone Happy’ was more the theme for the night. Audra, who is on the board for the Covenant House – dedicated to helping homeless children, instilled a message of optimism and a need for change in this world. Her vocally astounding version of the song “Go Back Home” was a highlight of the evening. sent shivers up the spine of everyone in the park. Next came an emotional rendition of “I’ll Be Here” from Adam Gwon’s Musical Ordinary Days.
The Julliard Trained Soprano also has a resume as big and amazing as her voice. This six-time Tony Award winner has been seen all over the Great White Way, appearing in shows such as Carousel, Master Class, Ragtime, A Raisin In The Sun, Porgy and Bess ,and star of Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill, where she received her most recent Tony Award for her riveting performance as Billie Holiday. In 2015 she was also named one of TIME magazine’s 100 Most Influential People for all of her support on marriage equality and at-risk underprivileged youth.
Although the night was balmy, McDonald never missed a beat, Audra’s voice was like a cool breeze blowing over us and helping all of us forget the heat.
The night concluded with a rousing rendition of “Climb Every Mountain” which she performed on NBC’s Sound of Music Live! The audience leapt to their feet to show their appreciation, and they were rewarded with an encore. In a moving tribute to her idol Judy Garland, Audra finished the concert talking about marriage equality and the rights of all Americas. Her encore, Judy Garland’s famous Somewhere Over The Rainbow, once again had the audience on their feet giving this amazing singer a well-deserved thunderous applause.
Performing with Audra was the National Symphony Orchestra conducted by Andy Einhorn. The NSO played beautifully and blended with Audra’s voice. Joining Audra on bass was Mark Vanderpoel, Brian Hertz on piano, and on drums was Gene Lewin, a veteran in jazz with an eclectic discography resume. All of her band played the music and helped enhance the show and her performance, There musical skills were highlighted with some fine ukulele playing, which was showcased in the hilarious number from the Operetta Craigslistlieder.
Audra McDonald is truly an inspiration to so many people. and to so many causes. She said her goal every day is to, “make someone happy,” and she challenged all the audience to do the same and help make this world a better place.
It was my birthday yesterday and what a great present I received by attending this great performance by Audra MacDonald. It was a birthday I won’t soon forget.
Running time: Approximately 2 hours and 30 minutes,with one intermission.
Audra McDonald performed with The National Symphony Orchestra on Monday, June 22, 2015 at Wolf Trap – 1635 Trap Road, in Vienna, VA. To see a list of upcoming events at Wolf Trap and to purchase tickets, go to their calendar of events.