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Audra McDonald in Concert

Hit or Miss

Audra McDonald in Concert

At Marie’s Crisis the other night with Jeff, Jere, David (visiting from Missouri), and Mike, I mentioned how excited I was about seeing Audra McDonald in concert on Friday (January 7) and Mike said “I hear she’s sick and canceled her concerts.”

Believing Mike was playing a cruel and horrible joke on me, I whipped out my Treo and surfed to BroadwayStars.com and confirmed that so far only the January 6 performance had been canceled.

Audra McDonald is one of the people on my list I’ve always wanted to see perform live (still on the list are Duncan Sheik, Rufus Wainwright, and Jennifer Holliday). I’ve been in love with her voice since her first album, Way Back to Paradise, and have admired her for her support of new musical theatre composers like Michael John LaChiusa, Adam Guettel, Ricky Ian Gordon, and Jeff Blumenkrantz.

Suffice to say, I’ve been eagerly awaiting this concert since I got the tickets back in October. I checked the Internet nervously again and again on Friday until I saw it posted that the concert was still on (Jeff called me, only minutes after I read it, to also let me know).

Audra was in wonderful form (despite suffering the after-effects of a terrible intestinal flu), performing a brand new show of mostly pop covers (which will reportedly form the basis of her new CD). Her music director Ted Sperling and the ensemble rocked on some great charts. Some of the highlights included:

  • John Mayer’s “My Stupid Mouth
  • Laura Nyro’s “Tom Cat Goodbye
  • Adam Guettel’s “Life is But a Dream,” cut from SATURN RETURNS
  • Jonathan Larson’s “Hosing the Furniture,” a frenetic comedic piece about a housewife of the future
  • Jeff Blumenkrantz’s “Departure”

Jeff and I were also excited to see the new Jazz at Lincoln Center venue. Nice place, but they need to work on the crowd flow (which bunched up at the few elevators and narrow escalator both before and after the concert) and reduce the level of the walkway lights when the houselights go down.

Afterwards, Jeff and I went to meet up with the “Jew Crew” (Andy, Steve, Marc, Matt) at the Phoenix (I’ve been granted honorary membership as a shiksa spouse). Jeff ran into jazz singer Julian Fleisher, who he used to know back when Julian was a humble blogger. Julian introduced us to his (rather cute) friend, Bruce.

The conversation got around to Audra’s concert (yes, this whole addendum is related) and Julian said they had been there too and that Bruce had done some of the arrangements. That’s when I realized that his friend was Bruce Coughlin, one of my favorite orchestrators (Floyd Collins, the RNT Candide, lots of Nonesuch albums with Audra, Kristin Chenoweth, Mandy Patinkin, etc). As Mike can testify, I’m an orchestration nerd, so I was thoroughly starstruck.