Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Florida - West Coast

Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall Presents:
Audra McDonald in Concert

Audra McDonald
I have not been fortunate enough to have seen the luminescent Audra McDonald, live often. I was able to make up for that on November 6, when I was privileged to spend an evening in her presence. We were lucky to be sitting very close to the stage and could therefore hear her natural voice, augmented by the sound system.

Ms. McDonald, winner of four Tony Awards, three before age 30, is blessed with a beautifully produced soprano voice, one that seems most comfortable in the upper middle range rather than the high ranges. She spoke of being prodded in her Julliard years to develop her classical sound, but she kept insisting that she wanted to be headed for Broadway, and that is the sound of her voice.

The program opened with "When did I Fall in Love?" (Bock and Harnick from Fiorello), a choice that surprised, yet delighted me, as it has always been a song I adored. Other highlights of the program included "I Double Dare You" (Eaton and Shand), one of her favorite repertoire items, "I Could Have Danced All Night" (Lerner and Lowe from My Fair Lady) with audience participation, and a medley of two lullabies, "Whose Little Angry Man" (Woldin/Brittan, from the musical Raisin) and "Baby Mine" (Washington and Churchill from Dumbo). The audience was treated to a song by Adam Gwon from his musical Ordinary Days, produced in 2009 in the Roundabout Theatre Company's Underground series. Mr. Gwon is the winner of the 2008 Fred Ebb Award for Musical Theater writing. The song is about two people who meet and how their lives are affected by 9/11/01. The program closed with "Ain't It the Truth," in tribute to Lena Horne (Arlen and Harburg, written for the movie Cabin in the Sky but used in the musical Jamaica). As an encore, we were treated to the moving "Some Days" (Steve Marzullo and James Baldwin).

Ms. McDonald was accompanied by Mark Vanderpoel on bass, Gene Lewin on drums, and Andy Einhorn as musical director and on the Yamaha.

Audra McDonald's upcoming concerts include November 8 at Curtis M Phillips Center for Performing Arts in Gainesville, Florida, and November 10 at Gaillard Auditorium in Charleston, South Carolina.

Check out the Van Wezel website for a complete schedule of shows at the venue between November 2011 and April 2012. Highlights include Patti LuPone and Mandy Patinkin in concert, Michael Feinstein in The Sinatra Project, and the area premiers of the musicals Shrek and Young Frankenstein

Be sure to Check the current schedule for theatre in West Coast Florida

See the current season schedule for West Coast Florida

--William S. Oser

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