Seth Rudetsky’s Broadway Concert Series produced by Mark Cortale is returning to the Parker Playhouse with 3 shows this year. Their first show will welcome Broadway All-star Audra McDonald—the historic six-time Tony winner and star of Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill, on January 8, 2015 at 8 pm. Every concert will feature Seth Rudetsky as pianist and host. What differentiates the series from any other is the seamless mix of intimate behind-the-scenes stories from Broadway’s biggest stars—prompted by the encyclopedic-minded Rudetsky’s probing, funny, revealing questions—and their stellar singing of Broadway show tunes.
Audra McDonald became a three-time Tony Award winner by the age of 28 for her performances in Carousel, Master Class and Ragtime, placing her alongside Shirley Booth, Gwen Verdon and Zero Mostel by accomplishing this feat within five years. She won her fourth in 2004 for her performance in A Raisin in the Sun, a role she reprised for a 2008 television adaptation, earning her a second Emmy Award nomination. In 2012, McDonald scored her fifth Tony Award win for her portrayal of Bess in Broadway’s The Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess thus tying a record held by Angela Lansbury and Julie Harris for the most Tony Awards won by an actor. This past June, she made history by winning her sixth Tony Award for her role as Billie Holliday in Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill and also becoming the first woman to ever win a Tony all 4 acting categories.
I was honored, and a little star struck, to sit down with Audra for this exclusive Hotspots interview:
At what age did singing and acting become interests of yours?
They became full-blown interests around age nine.
What was your first acting gig?
I was in the ensemble in The King and I at a local dinner theater.
When did you know acting was going to officially be your career?
I knew it from the moment it became an interest.
You have played so many roles on Broadway; which one was your favorite and why?
I don’t have a favorite as they are like children to me. I love them all for different reasons. My latest role, Lady Day, was the most difficult one and it taught me the most about stamina and depth.
How does it feel to have broken two Tony records?
Overwhelming. It still doesn’t feel real.
Is it still exciting to be nominated for, and to win, a Tony?
Of course, it always is. It’s nothing that you are ever expecting or you think would ever happen.
I can see from the Tony broadcasts that you have a very close relationship with your daughter. How do you stay so close? Is it difficult with the hours you put in on Broadway?
Yes, it is incredibly difficult. We do lots of texting and Skyping, but she is my main priority. I travel a lot, but I never stay, [because] I run back home to be with her.
You are a big proponent of marriage equality. Have you always been? What made you get so involved with this cause?
Yes, I have always been this way. It’s a civil rights issue! Some of my closest friends are in committed relationships, and the fact that they can’t marry and have the same rights and privileges that I do is heartbreaking to me.
How amazing was it to act in The Sound of Music and how was it to work with Carrie Underwood and the rest of the cast?
It felt very much like rehearsing a Broadway show, because we rehearsed for six weeks. The night of the show was very odd for me, as it was live, but I did not have the audience right in front of me. Working with Carrie Underwood was a joy, as she is literally one of the most kind and loving people I have ever met.
Yahoo! Questions with Jimmy Fallon on The Tonight Show is comic genius. I have to find out how that came about.
It came about in a strange way. I did a concert at Lincoln Center a few years ago. Immediately after the concert a friend of mine called and invited me to come have dinner with her. When I arrived, Jimmy Fallon was at the table and found out he had been at the concert. I did a craigslist ad bit where I read listings to music and he thought that was so funny. He asked me to do something similar on the show, and five months later, when he figured out what it would be, I got the call.
Tell me something people would be surprised to know about you.
I am afraid of balloons.
Describe yourself in three words.
Loud, passionate, and nice.
Are you excited to be a part of Seth Rudetsky’s Broadway Concert Series on January 8th at the Parker Playhouse?
Of course. I love Seth and I have known him for two decades. Anytime he asks me to be a part of something, if I am available, I do it.
Seth Rudetsky’s Broadway Concert Series at Parker Playhouse continues this year with
Star of Broadway and TV’s Glee and 30 Rock Cheyenne Jackson on February 14, at 8 pm and then Two-Time Tony Winner Sutton Foster on March 20, at 8pm.
Ticketmaster is the only official ticketing service of the Broward Center, Parker Playhouse and affiliated venues. Buy tickets online at BrowardCenter.org, ParkerPlayhouse.com or Ticketmaster.com; by phone at 800.745.3000 or TTD/TTY at 800.359.2525; in person at Ticketmaster outlets or the Broward Center’s AutoNation Box Office. Tickets are also available for purchase at the Parker Playhouse box office Tuesday through Saturday from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m.
For more information on Audra McDonald go to: AudraMcdonald.net