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:
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. 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.(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:
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.http://www.nytimes.com/...
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?”