Filled with fascinating insights and gorgeous selection of songs, this latest show in The Seth Concert series was a real treat as it was insightful.
Having been lucky enough to catch Audra McDonald’s immensely enjoyable performance in Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill in the West End a few years ago, there was no way that I was going to miss this concert.
What is so interesting about these concerts is the way in which it delicately balances the music and conversation between the guest and Seth Rudetsky, offering a real insight into what is important to the guest and how it matches with their career. In this extremely pertinent and consistently emotional concert, Audra discusses a lot of the problems, racism and discrimination that she has faced during her career being a black woman.
In one such case, she tells the story of when she was in the 1999 television special of Annie as Grace Farrell when Disney wanted to change the ending from Daddy Warbucks proposing to Grace because they were concerned of how some in the advertising market would react. Thankfully, director Rob Marshall ensured the original ending was retained.
It is the combination of stories like this, with her exquisite performances of songs including getting the concert off to a flying start with a bold rendition of La Cage Aux Folles ‘I am What I am’ that made this such a fascinating and insightful watch. Everything that was said and sung was truly from the heart.
Throughout it all, Audra McDonald spoke and sung with grace and honesty. Her distinctive and classy vocals really adding something even more special to songs such as ‘Your Daddy’s son’ from Ragtime and ‘Go Back Home’ from The Scottsboro Boys – there was such a rawness and depth of feeling to the way in which she performed both songs it added power and punch to the meaning behind them.
Elsewhere, the precision of her technique is also admirable – with her renditions of ‘Summertime’ and ‘Climb Every Mountain’ being richly layered with different tones, highlighting why her voice and talent is so renowned.
This is the second time within a week that I have been reminded of the power of music to deliver strong messages. Audra McDonald’s performance and honesty in this concert was engaging to watch and I was left feeling quite moved by it.
By Emma Clarendon
The Seth Concert Series continues next weekend with Seth Rudetsky being joined by Norm Lewis. Tickets are available at www.thesethconcertseries.com for $20.00 (early bird) and $25.00 each.