REVIEW: Audra McDonald

I really appreciated the format of Audra’s performance. Listening to Broadway songs out of context from the actual musical can be very difficult because we don’t understand the story that the character singing is in.  I didn’t understand the humor, naiveness and sadness in the songs because I don’t know the personality of the character and what the character is longing for. My favorite aspect of musicals is the interaction of the songs with the story, but in this performance, there was no story. That is why I appreciated Audra giving the background and context before she sang every song. She not only gave the context of the story and character but she told us about her personal relationship with every song. How this song has played a role in her life-story. Some of the songs she sang she has been singing since a young girl. I believe this is how she was able to still have so much emotion and character in her voice even though she wasn’t acting the parts as well. She is so familiar with the song that she doesn’t need the role to understand how it should be sung.

Audra was only accompanied by a pianist, percussionist, and bassist, not a full orchestra like many musicals will have. It was interesting to hear the musicians do some background singing for one of the songs. I didn’t mind the minimal instrumentals because it allowed more focus and emphasis on Audra. Audra has incredible variety in her voice. In one performance I was able to hear and feel multiple characters and musicals because of the different ways Audra would sing.  My favorite was when Audra would use her falsetto. Especially when she sang “Summertime” from Porgy and Bess.

I didn’t recognize many songs because the music was only from American musicals, but I was happy to hear “I could have danced all night” from My Fair Lady. I was even happier that she invited us to sing along with her. Usually, I hate this part of concerts, but it felt refreshing with Audra because she didn’t stop singing while the audience sang. Her microphone was also loud enough that she wasn’t drowned out by the audience and I could still hear her singing.

This isn’t really a criticism, but I found all the songs to sound very similar. I wonder if the lack of variety is because of how they chose the setlist or if it is because all American musicals sound the same.

The most interesting part for me was hearing songs from modern musicals. I think that musicals were all written a century ago because the style of music is showtime music, which isn’t modern at all. It was interesting to hear songs, in the showtime sound, but mentioning facebook pokes and twitter.

She closed the night singing two classics. “Climb Every Mountain” from The Sound of Music and “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” from the Wizard of Oz.

Ronald McTrump

I am a senior studying business and I have lots of travelling experience in Asia. I am very pessimistic and opinionated about life, but art brings me happiness and I hope my pessimism isn't apparent in my reviews, for the sake of the artists!

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