On Sunday, after attending a music event out in the Agoura Hills at the Paramount Ranch, I drove back an hour to go with my pal Mark Evanier to a concert by Audra McDonald at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. So, though this was the second part of the long day, I'll deal with it here first. I'll get to the earlier part of the day soon.
Mark had called me the evening before, and even though I knew it would involve a lot of driving and re-scheduling, I figured I should give it a go. I like Audra McDonald's work very much (it's hard not to), though I'm not at all a die-hard acolyte. I'd seen her with Mark last year in a much smaller venue that was more of a conversation with song, where she chatted with Seth Rudetsky who accompanied her on the piano for the few numbers she sang. (I wrote about it here.) Sunday was worlds different. And that was the point in going, to compare the differences.
Mainly, rather than being interviewed and a piano, she sang for two hours with the L.A. Opera orchestra behind her. We're so used to not hearing full orchestras these days -- including at musicals with pared down bands -- that the music alone was glorious. Soaring and rich.
Wonderful too was her chatting between numbers with the audience, something I find too often missing in concerts. The performer just stands there and sings most of the time, and you could just as well bought the CD and had close to the same experience. Her chatting was warm and personal, often very funny, and occasionally touching. Much of it is scripted, I'm sure -- that's hardly a complaint. A well-planned show should have prepared material -- but it was clear that a good amount was off-the cuff. For instance, responding to the audience when she'd ask them questions. Or at one point, after screwing up the lyrics of a song. she quipped, "Maybe I should have told you it was okay to sing along." (Or something like that.)
And as for her singing -- well, yeah. She does have a set of pipes. And it's not just that her voice is so strong to the point where you wondered why she even bothered with a microphone, but it's her interpretation of numbers that sets her standard, whether funny or emotional. Most of the selections were from musical theater -- most classic numbers, with some that were lesser-known to most of the audience, but also several fairly new works since she's a big champion of developing new songwriters.
All in all, it was a very enjoyable afternoon.
There was one particular song that stood out from the others as different. It was one of those new ones written by an Australian singer, Kate Miller Heidke, who she talks about meeting, and being SO taken by the song because it spoke so incredibly personally to her down to the details of a very emotional period of her life. As such, she apologized in advance for the language being very different from the rest of her concert and work, but it was too spot-on to what her own thoughts were, that they had to be sung as is.
I couldn't find a video of Audra McDonald performing song, but did find her recording of it on one of her albums. And since it was done in concert, it fit well enough. So, here it is, "The Facebook Song" --
As a bonus, here is a video of the song performed by its writer, Kate Miller Heidke. As you'll note, it turns out that Audra McDonald did change one lyric -- the very last line which she softened. Ms. Miller Heidke sings it as intended.
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
Feedspot Badge of Honor