Two views from the Promenade Level exterior patio before the evening started--just a perfect evening!
Night one of two in a row for events at the Music Center at Strathmore in Rockville: Audra McDonald. If you don't know who she is...google! She's won no less than 6 Tony's on Broadway, a Grammy and an Emmy. She has one of the finest voices on the planet. When she came out onto the stage, the entire place erupted in applause and shouts and cheers! And she just waved both hands and starting singing. Her repertoire consisted of music from the great American Broadway songbook and included Frank Loesser, Rogers and Hammerstein, Sondheim, Gershwin, Kander and Ebb, Irving Berlin and several contemporary composers. She also filled the space between the music with stories from her career and anecdotes about the composers.
In one story she told of how she completely flubbed up a performance of Sondheim's "A Glamorous Life" from "A Little Night Music" just weeks ago at the Penn Faulkner awards in NYC with Sondheim and Meryl Streep sitting directly in front of her. It was funny and full of grace and self-deprecation. When she sang "Summertime" from "Porgy and Bess" I soon felt a dull pain in my chest and I realized that I had simply stopped breathing her acoustic presentation feeling so holy, so sacred. She had the audience sing along with "I Could Have Danced All Night" from "My Fair Lady," and when the song was over she stopped to compliment a young woman sitting in the front row and then engaged her a good five minute conversation about her voice, her experiences, and her aspirations finishing with some amazing free advice in a turn that this young woman (16 years old) will never forget.
In a moment of high comedy, she featured a work by a young Australian singer-song writer, Kate Miller-Heidke called "The Facebook Song (Are You Fucking Kidding Me!?). Then followed it with another aspiring songwriter/lyricist Adam Gwon's "I'll Be Here"--a heart wrenching song of a newly married couple who's future is destroyed by 9/11. I know this song well and imagined that I would be a puddle, but she managed the intensity of it in such a way that projected the hope that is also woven into the song. Hope was her theme throughout. She constantly reminded the audience to persevere in light of our present trials and tribulations.
An uproarious, overwhelming ovation after her final number "Climb Every Mountain" (Cha...right?!) she returned for an encore of "Somewhere Over The Rainbow." I was so glad that I had splurged on this one for a box seat's comfort and autonomy.