Friday, July 9, 2010
Last Saturday I attended "110 In The Shade" starring Audra McDonald and Will Swenson. I have been a fan of Ms. McDonald for many years. A few years ago my husband and I got to hear her sing live with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. Knocked my socks off:)
When I was invited to attend this special engagement performance I was giddy with excitement. Those who know me well know how much I Love Musical Theatre (especially when it is done well). It is one of my first loves! And during my life I have seen some amazing performances. I would rank this one in the Top Tier! The entire cast was outstanding. The music, the dancing, the lighting, the costumes....The entire show was flawless. Audra is a raw actress and as Lizzie her chemistry with Marvin Payne (her dad), Jared Young and Tim Threlfall (her brothers), was lovely.
When Audra came on stage and opened her mouth and sang those first few notes I started weeping. She was 6 feet in front of me. I could have pulled her hair. But, of course, I wouldn't do that:) Her voice is exquisite. I don't know how else to describe it. She was classically trained at Julliard. Her tone quality is warm and rich. Her expression is energetic and passionate. And her technique is perfect.
For me,Theatre can be a magical experience, and dare I say, almost a spiritual experience. And that is how I felt at this production. This particular audience was a sort of "who's who" of local theatre. Several familiar faces were there, I'm sure, in support of former local actor, Will Swenson. Many were there for the experience of Audra.
As I sat there blubbering I looked around to see if I was the only one feeling those emotions. I looked across the aisle and saw this guy having the same experience. So I knew I was in good company. (Or as my friend Ashley would say: "You weren't a freak.")
After the show some of us got to meet Audra and sing "Happy Birthday" to her as it was her 40th. I had a sweet conversation with her mother who is visiting during the run. Audra was just as gorgeous on the inside as the outside. She was gracious and focused as she talked with me. We talked about how we had both played the role of Carrie in "Carousel"(me at the University and of course she, on Broadway). She said she was blown away by the amazing talent in this community and how warmly she had been embraced by all. She autographed my program and had someone take a photo of us. (She looked fabulous...me, not. so. much. So if my girls will help me photoshop, perhaps I'll post it sometime.)
You can read an interview with Audra here: