REVIEW: Audra McDonald

Vocal perfection? Thy name is Audra McDonald.

This evening, I had the absolute pleasure to hear Audra McDonald perform for the second time in the always amazing, Hill Auditorium. She began the first half with several numbers that were classically-Audra but never overused: “Stars and the Moon,” “I’ll be here,” “When did I Fall in Love” to name a few. Some interesting new additions, at least for me having seen her two years ago, were a moving rendition of the classic, “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” as well as a number from the not-too-popular Kandor and Ebb musical Steel Pier entitled “First You Dream.” The latter was dedicated to her father who sadly passed away in a plane crash, a plane he was piloting himself. The song is sung by the main character, a pilot who dies but doesn’t yet know he is dead. His final piece of advice to the woman he is trying to inspire is a clear message on how to begin: “first you dream.”

With a rousing first half, it was hard to imagine anything could be more impressive. Of course, Ms. McDonald never begins something to finish with anything less than her best. With her on stage for the second half came the entire University of Michigan Music School Orchestra to back her up in a slew of Gershwin songs, paying tribute to the new pact between the Gershwin family and the University of Michigan. This new collaboration project with provide a collected and accessible database of Gershwin repertoire, complete with original manuscripts and composer notes. Judging by the gasps of excitement from the Musical Theatre majors I was seated around, I’d say this is more than fantastic news for wolverines cravin’ that Gershwin swing.

What a fantastic performance by a truly special talent. I feel incredibly fortunate to have had the opportunity to see Ms. McDonald perform once again while here at Michigan. She’s a goddess in her own right and knows how to wield the amazing gift with which she’s been blessed.