Audra McDonald: If You Only Know Her from The Sound of Music, You’ve Missed a Lot

Let's start at the very beginning, a very good place to start...

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The morning after NBC’s experiment with a live televised production of The Sound of Music, the reviews are in — and, despite a mixed take-away for star Carrie Underwood and the production as a whole, one actress has been pretty much unanimously appointed the show-stealer of the night. That actress is, to no musical-theater fan’s surprise, Audra McDonald, who played the Mother Abbess. As seen in the clip above, she dominated “Climb Ev’ry Mountain,” just as she did every scene she was in.

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For those who weren’t already Broadway buffs, however, McDonald may have been a surprise. Though she’s appeared in TV shows like The Good Wife and Private Practice, the stage is where she shines most — but, thanks to YouTube, it’s possible to catch up quickly on Audra McDonald’s decades of theatrical and concert glory. Here are five performances to start with:


McDonald won a Tony for her lead role in this 1998 adaptation of the E.L. Doctorow historical novel.


110 in the Shade

McDonald won a Drama Desk award (and was nominated for a Tony) for her role in this 2007 musical.


The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess

McDonald originated the lead role in this adaptation of Porgy and Bess, which is still on Broadway (with a new cast now) and includes the classic song “Summertime.”



McDonald’s first Tony was for her supporting role in the 1994 revival of the musical by Rodgers and Hammerstein, the team that also created The Sound of Music. (The video below is from a concert performance, not the Broadway version.)


And, as a nod to The Sound of Music:

the 2001 Kennedy Center Honors tribute to Julie Andrews

Skip to 5:00 to see McDonald sing “I Could Have Danced All Night.”


And, just for fun, here she is on The Colbert Report:

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