Sharing, through song, an inspiring message of following one’s dreams, award-winning actress and singer Audra McDonald left BYU audiences dazzled after performing two live concerts in the deJong Concert Hall this week.
As a five-time Tony Award-winning singer and actress, and a two-time Grammy Award winner, McDonald is one of the best known names in musical theater. Winning three Tony Awards before the age of 30, McDonald placed herself among the all-time elites of the stage.
Jeffery Martin, a BYU arts administrator and presenter for the theater media arts department, said he could not think of a better way to start a new season and new academic school year than by attending a live performance by this acclaimed actor and singer.
“Tonight’s concert has been several years in the making and — as you will surely recognize — was well worth the wait,” Martin said.
McDonald dazzled audiences Thursday and Friday night with Broadway favorites from “Annie Get Your Gun,” “My Fair Lady” and “State Fair,” as well as old classics by George Gershwin and Irving Berlin. Her stunning range and profoundly emotional storytelling left those in attendance deeply moved.
McDonald interacted with the audience, telling stories and even inviting the audience to sing along to “I Could Have Danced All Night.” She made viewers laugh when she told of her daughter who hates her singing, but she also made them cry during a touching song about 9/11.
Giving tribute to her deceased father, who was a pilot, McDonald played the piano herself and sang a song about the beauty of flight and the goodness of God.
In addition to two nearly sold-out concerts, McDonald also taught a master class with some performing arts students here on campus.
Matt Davies, a music dance theater major from Centerville, Ut., said working closely with McDonald was a great opportunity because she definitely knows what she is talking about.
“She challenged the students to go as far as they could go,” Davies said. “She taught about getting to a place where you can open up and share a message.”
After a standing ovation, McDonald returned for an encore and sang “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” leaving the audience with inspiring words and unprecedented vocals.
“No matter who you are,” McDonald said, “if you dream, you can be who you want to be.”