The Voice (Stage Thoughts: Audra McDonald Live at Dorothy Chandler Pavilion 5/20/18)


I have seen Audra McDonald in most of her Tony-winning performances but it is always a treat to just see Audra McDonald, the living legend. On Sunday at Los Angeles’ Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, she proved that she has one of the best voices singing anywhere nowadays (Stephen Sondheim said as much and as we all know, he is God)  and I think we can be assured that her recordings have not been ‘sweetened’ because her voice is just as luminous, expressive, and crystal clear live.

Her show mirrors, almost to the song, the repertoire from her latest live album, ‘Sing Happy’ And if, like me, you have been listening to the album since it came out, then the show may sound just a little familiar. But who cares, hearing her sing ‘It’s Lovely Up Here’ is glorious in any way possible. Plus, I think she has a great sparkling personality – funny, touching, down-to-earth that all in all, it doesn’t matter – you will feel like you have reached heaven just by having both of you breath the same air. The great theater repertoire is unmatched, starting with her ‘I Am What I Am,’ from La Cage Aux Folles. In some ways, this song feels more like a personal anthem of me loving theater music, unapologetically. Another particular highlight for me is ‘The Facebook Song,’ which I have not really heard prior to her recording it, and has now become one of my favorite tracks from the album. At Sunday’s performance, it was a highlight. McDonald’s voice may be highbrow, but works just as well screaming the F word. By the end of the concert, as she sings ‘Over The Rainbow,’ I was in a puddle of grateful tears. This is truly one of those days that I felt blessed to be alive, and able to experience the thrill of listening to live music. This show is an afternoon is something I will not soon forget.

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