I was about to accidentally kick my too-big purse on a Broadway star’s head.
Out glided the talented Audra McDonald.
My jump of surprise almost sent my purse flying over the ledge and right on Ms. McDonald.
Let me explain. A beautiful ambiance was created before the show’s star arrived. There was the sound of ice being scooped for drinks as people with front row seats imbibed; a three piece band playing; and an audience member so decked out in regalia I was trying to figure out if she was a part of the play or simply an excited theater-goer.
Thus, by the time Ms. McDonald allowed her white, floor length gown to brush the stage, I already felt like I was in south Philadelphia’s Emerson’s Bar & Grill, not Circle in the Square Theater in New York City.
A Broadway star with a record setting six Tony awards wins, I decided that I had to see in person the person who is clearly an icon and national treasure.
And icon she is. As soon as Audra McDonald’s lips parted to sing “I Wonder Where Our Love Has Gone” I couldn’t discern between her famous soprano and Billie Holiday’s legendary vocals. It was eerie, and it was beautiful.
This one-woman show is replete with biographical information about Lady Day, humor, and sadness. I wanted to commune with Billie all night as songs such as “What a Little Crazy Can Do,” “Pig Foot (And a Bottle of Beer),” and the legendary “God Bless the Child” were sung. By the time Audra McDonald sang “Strange Fruit” I was lost in visceral emotion and awe.
When the last song’s note fades and the lights brighten, don’t be surprised to feel disappointed because you want just a little more.
And a little more.
And an hour more despite the lack of intermission.
Scheduled to close September 21, 2014 after three run extensions, go ahead and take the time to drop by Emerson’s Bar and Grill to see Lady Day, I mean Audra McDonald, perform.
It’s a night out that will be cherished for years to come.