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Multiple Tony Award-winning actress Audra McDonald has an incredible voice, and apparently an incredible sense of humor. Serious biographical info and clips below the fleur-de-kos, but first, this is a must-see of her appearance on Jimmy Fallon's show. It is hysterical:

From Wikipedia:

Audra Ann McDonald (born July 3, 1970) is an American actress and singer. She has appeared on the stage in both musicals and dramas, such as Ragtime, A Raisin in the Sun, and Porgy and Bess. She maintains an active concert and recording career, performing song cycles and operas as well as performing in concert throughout the U.S. She has won five Tony Awards, sharing the record for most Tonys won by an actor with Julie Harris and Angela Lansbury. She also starred in the ABC television drama Private Practice as Dr. Naomi Bennett.
http://en.wikipedia.org/...

She could have danced all night (in concert):

Born in Berlin, Germany and raised in Fresno, California, the elder of two daughters, she began to study acting at a young age to counteract her diagnosis as "hyperactive". McDonald graduated from the Roosevelt School of the Arts program within Theodore Roosevelt High School in Fresno.[1] She got her start in acting with Dan Pessano and Good Company Players, beginning in their Junior Company. "I knew I wanted to be involved in theater when I had my first chance to perform with the Good Company Players Junior Company."

About those Tony Awards:

McDonald became a three-time Tony Award winner by age 28 — for her performances in Carousel, Master Class, and Ragtime, placing her alongside Shirley Booth, Gwen Verdon and Zero Mostel by accomplishing this feat within five years. She was nominated for another Tony Award for her performance in Marie Christine before she won her fourth in 2004 for her role in A Raisin in the Sun, placing her in the company of other four-time winning actresses Gwen Verdon and Mary Martin. She reprised her Raisin role for a 2008 television adaptation, earning her a second Emmy Award nomination. On June 10, 2012, McDonald scored her fifth Tony Award win for her portrayal of Bess in Broadway's The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess, thus tying Angela Lansbury and Julie Harris.[5]
(And she still has a long career to look forward to, imo. Wonder how many more Tonys she can get?)

Because she won her most recent Tony playing Bess, it's worth it to look a bit closer at that particular show. First, Summertime, which I'm sure all of us in the freezing states -- red and blue -- need to warm us up:

If you know the plot of Porgy & Bess, you know exactly how ironic that song really is. But it's nice to think about summer when there's snow outside (and more on the way).

And a medley from The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess, with the cast, on the Tony Awards show:

With Carrie Underwood on the live broadcast of The Sound of Music:

For more information, the NYT has a Times Topics page devoted to her:
http://topics.nytimes.com/...

I'll let NYT critic Stephen Holden have the last word:

Absolutely thrilling. That describes Audra McDonald’s Avery Fisher Hall performance at Lincoln Center’s spring gala on Thursday evening. The very sound of the word “thrilling,” with its suggestion of an embedded trill, evokes qualities inherent in Ms. McDonald’s soprano, which seemed to unfurl in ever-richer textures as she imbued songs with a sense of bursting possibility.

The familiar songs “First You Dream,” from the Kander and Ebb show “Steel Pier,” and the Styne-Comden-Green ballad “Make Someone Happy” from “Do Re Mi,” were infused with the excitement of discovery, as if Ms. McDonald and the audience were together realizing how humble Broadway songs delivered with passion and intelligence could convey basic emotional truths. From “Make Someone Happy”: “Fame if you win it/ Comes and goes in a minute/ Where’s the real stuff in life to cling to?”

http://www.nytimes.com/...
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Comment Preferences

  •  Tips for a brilliant performer? (21+ / 0-)

    Irony takes a worse beating from Republicans than Wile E. Coyote does from Acme. --Tara the Antisocial Social Worker

    by Youffraita on Mon Dec 16, 2013 at 11:49:17 AM PST

  •  she's amazing (6+ / 0-)

    The first time I ever really heard her sing was on the Sound of Music special.  I didn't watch the whole thing, but from what I did see, she was the highlight.

    Her voice absolutely blew me away.  I only really knew her from Private Practice, now I want to see her in a musical where she has a much larger role.  

    There is no snooze button on a cat who wants breakfast.

    by puzzled on Mon Dec 16, 2013 at 05:37:36 PM PST

  •  It was HER voice I heard in the recent Sound Of (4+ / 0-)

    Music!!!

    I wasn't going to watch it, as it's not a remake that appealed to me.  

    But I heard a few lines of "Climb Ev'ry Mountain" and stopped dead in my tracks!  She did an incredible job with that song!!

    When a singer's voice gets my attention to that degree...he or she is worth spending time with!

    Thanks for this one, Youff!  Now I have another singer to add to my list of "must have"s!

    Marti

    We cannot call ourselves a civilised society if we refuse to protect the weakest among us.

    by The Marti on Mon Dec 16, 2013 at 05:52:37 PM PST

    •  Yer welcome! n/t (4+ / 0-)

      Irony takes a worse beating from Republicans than Wile E. Coyote does from Acme. --Tara the Antisocial Social Worker

      by Youffraita on Mon Dec 16, 2013 at 05:56:36 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  We were channel surfing, (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      weck, The Marti, Youffraita, BachFan

      and flipped past The Sound of Music several times, lingering but not staying -- we saw a few songs, including that one. When Climb Every Mountain was over, my father said, "Usually, the idea in these things is to give the lead part to the best singer!"

      I didn't even realize it was Audra McDonald at the time, but I could certainly agree with the sentiment. If the Mother Superior had had some more songs coming up after that one, I'd have watched the rest. I just love her voice!


      Shop Kos Katalogue ❧ Help Okiciyap at Cheyenne River reservation.

      by belinda ridgewood on Mon Dec 16, 2013 at 08:48:54 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  LOL! (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        BachFan, belinda ridgewood

        Your dad was right on the money, there. The NYT review of the production basically said that the woman playing the Baroness had more sparkle & charisma wrt the Captain than Carrie Underwood did.

        I think you need not only a voice, but also some acting chops, lol.

        Irony takes a worse beating from Republicans than Wile E. Coyote does from Acme. --Tara the Antisocial Social Worker

        by Youffraita on Tue Dec 17, 2013 at 10:18:55 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Carrie Underwood (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Youffraita

          has a reasonably pleasant voice but she was a bit wooden. You're right, she definitely isn't a good actress. I'd have loved to see Audra McDonald play the lead! (Well, in anything, really.)

          I wonder if the US television audience is ready for an AA Maria von Trapp, LOL. It's been over 45 years since they freaked the hell out over Captain Kirk kissing Uhura, but I am afraid there are places that would still freak the hell out. If we are having a big discussion about whether Santa Claus and Jesus have to be depicted as white white white, for pity's sake, evidently we still have a long way to go in this area.


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          by belinda ridgewood on Tue Dec 17, 2013 at 11:34:31 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Hmmmm.... (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            belinda ridgewood

            I think there would be a lot of resistance to a black Maria von Trapp, too, among the haters. Theater-goers would LOVE it b/c her voice & acting skillz are so great, and b/c audiences have by now gotten accustomed to the best person playing the role, regardless of color or ethnicity...hmmmm. The kids wouldn't care. They don't care about gay and they don't care about interracial couples: a lot of them are in them, at least where I live, and probably where you live, too.

            But I agree that the networks are too chicken to even try something like that.

            Re: Santa Claus & Jesus, though, it seems to be mostly Fox (& we liberals) who are up in arms. I'd bet dollars to doughnuts (as my mother used to say) that I don't know anyone IRL who's even AWARE of what Megyn said.

            I'm the only person I know IRL (besides you, of course) who actually pays attention to politics, iow.

            Irony takes a worse beating from Republicans than Wile E. Coyote does from Acme. --Tara the Antisocial Social Worker

            by Youffraita on Tue Dec 17, 2013 at 12:33:10 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Oh, sure, you could do it on Broadway, (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Youffraita

              but in terms of something on network TV, whatever audience they're trying to bring in by casting Carrie Underwood, they are going to fear would not be the most receptive audience to a mixed-race von Trapp family. Whether or not it's even true today, they are rather risk-averse in many ways. I guess they have to be, now that there are many options besides the broadcast networks. I imagine they think they are actually reaching by casting Audra McDonald as the Mother Superior.

              Yeah, you are right; so many people I see day to day have not the faintest idea what's going on politically. Or they pick up some broad-brush meme like "Obamacare = bad website" from late-night comedians and that's all they've got. At least the Daily Show and Colbert reach some of those who are otherwise uninterested.


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              by belinda ridgewood on Tue Dec 17, 2013 at 01:54:30 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Yeah. I agree with you. (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                belinda ridgewood

                What I'm afraid the networks will take away here is: live productions don't work! Everyone made fun!

                when the problem really is casting. OMG, you want to do a terrific live broadcast of a Broadway show, and do it well?

                Get a goddamn broadway cast together!

                Audra McDonald might not be known much beyond the stage, except for her star turn as a doctor, but I mean: Glenn Close? She's a terrific singer! There are others, too.

                Well, we agree, I'm sure, I'm just venting at the stupidity of casting someone with NO stage chops in a live production.

                Irony takes a worse beating from Republicans than Wile E. Coyote does from Acme. --Tara the Antisocial Social Worker

                by Youffraita on Tue Dec 17, 2013 at 02:06:24 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

              •  belinda, I just found this one: (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                belinda ridgewood

                OMG, she's already singing the role. She just doesn't get cast in it.

                This is apropos of nothing, you understand: I just think you will enjoy it.

                Irony takes a worse beating from Republicans than Wile E. Coyote does from Acme. --Tara the Antisocial Social Worker

                by Youffraita on Tue Dec 17, 2013 at 03:12:05 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  Yes, thank you! (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Youffraita

                  She could totally sing that role. I mean, she could sing anything, but I think that score especially lends itself to her voice. Well, maybe some day... They should do one of those PBS concert-style performances of the show. Then no one would watch except liberal eggheads like us who would accept her in the role anyway.


                  Shop Kos Katalogue ❧ Help Okiciyap at Cheyenne River reservation.

                  by belinda ridgewood on Tue Dec 17, 2013 at 04:08:31 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Y'know what I thought? (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    belinda ridgewood

                    I thought they should cast her -- and the captain -- and just put it in a different country. (Black in Germany during WWII is almost as much a death sentence as Jewish there and then.)

                    But what if Maria came from, oh, I dunno, Peru? Or Brazil? What if the score was the same, and the place/time were changed?

                    (And the Alps. Maybe the Sierras? the Andes?)

                    Irony takes a worse beating from Republicans than Wile E. Coyote does from Acme. --Tara the Antisocial Social Worker

                    by Youffraita on Tue Dec 17, 2013 at 05:08:22 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

  •  I have the CD of the broadway production of (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    weck, Youffraita, BachFan

    Ragtime.    Her signing Wheels of Dream (I think that it what it is called) with Brian Stokes Mitchell is truly amazing.  

  •  :o) (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    weck, Youffraita, BachFan

    Audra McDonald~ Givenik Ambassador~1/31/12

    http://www.youtube.com/...

    Audra McDonald Introduces Her New Puppy!

    http://www.youtube.com/...

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