Audra McDonald In Concert – Scottsdale Center for the Arts

Theater Review – January 20, 2019


Broadway @ Scottsdale Center for the Arts, Virginia G. Piper Theater
Scottsdale, AZ

Six time Tony Award winner Audra McDonald dazzled a capacity Scottsdale Center for the Arts audience with amazing solos of musical theater classics.  Many songs represented shows McDonald did originally on Broadway.  With music director and host Seth Rudetsky, McDonald told interesting stories about her legendary Broadway career in between her songs as well as affectionate tales about her children including her surprise daughter, two-year-old Sally.

McDonald sang with her beautifully luminescent soprano even though she claimed to be suffering from a head cold.  While it would be impossible for McDonald to sing from every show she’s been in, she closed the show with a stirring “Climb Every Mountain” from her television appearance in “The Sound of Music.”  And her one encore was an amazing “Summertime” from “Porgy and Bess.”  Although McDonald studied opera at Julliard she told about a professor who suggested she might be more successful in musical theater and then bragged about his advice years later.

McDonald looked stunning in a black pants suit and, like most of the Broadway at the Scottsdale Center for the Arts concerts, McDonald entertained audience questions.  One question inquired what she still wanted to do with her life.  After saying the obvious about always improving her singing and acting, she said she really wanted to give back to the community by being on a City Council or a School Board.

McDonald’s voice sailed through such wonderful musical theater songs as “Carefully Taught” from “South Pacific,” “I Am What I Am” from “La Cage aux folles,” several Stephen Sondheim songs including a story about an appearance in a Sondheim tribute where the composer was sitting front and center and she “went up” forgotting the song lyrics.  She spoke glowingly of Barbara Cook who served as her mentor as McDonald sang “Dear Friend” from “She Loves Me,” a show Cook starred in originally.  She did a bracing “Being Alive” from Sondheim’s “Company” and did an exquisite “I Could Have Danced All Night” from “My Fair Lady” during which she paid tribute to that show’s original star Julie Andrews.  Rudetsky reminded his star of several career stories while providing his superb piano accompaniment.

Audra McDonald crafted a richly sung concert with lovely stories.  The series next attraction will feature Gavin Creel, a replacement for the originally announced Jeremy Jordon, on February 9.  For tickets to Gavin Creel, call the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts box office at 480-499-8587 or order tickets online at

Grade: A