I arrived with one of my oldest and dearest friends from high school, over the moon excited to see the Tony, Emmy and Grammy Award-winning singer and actor Audra McDonald as the featured artist in Caramoor’s opening Saturday night concert on June 17 inside the packed Venetian Theater. Many were dressed to the nines, as a formal gala followed to celebrate and kick off Caramoor’s jam-packed 2023 summer season.
I had missed Audra’s Caramoor performance pre-pandemic, and had made a mental note: that’s not happening again!
At the very moment McDonald – in a stunning gown adorned by her long ringlets – stepped onto the stage smiling broadly to her musical director, Andy Einhorn, who smiled just as broadly right back, I could sense we were all in for a treat, a magical one, at that!
This was the first time I had heard Audra McDonald sing.
Aside from having a gorgeous voice, described aptly as a ‘luminous soprano’, I so enjoyed Audra’s wonderfully playful, utterly comfortable in her own skin quality, as she relayed humorous stories surrounding both the now 52-year-old mom’s very impressive childhood achievements and also (which I as a fellow mom especially enjoyed) stories about her four children and stepchildren (two 22 year olds, a 19 year old, and a six year old!), who were not all always as entranced by mom’s singing. Oh well… kids!
She was so thoughtful and inclusive in her song choices at the outset, opening the evening’s performance with I Am What I Am, and also generous in engaging the audience at so many turns, including with I Could Have Danced All Night, and at the show’s conclusion, Life is a Cabaret, which rather brought down the house.
Audra McDonald is truly a star’s star, who graciously and gratefully acknowledged Einhorn a couple times during the evening along with offering warm words for all the members of the stellar Orchestra of St. Luke’s. Audra, I took note, also had the rapt front rows attention from the likes of Bill and Hillary Clinton, Nita Lowey and Martha Stewart.
“Love, live, dream… and then love bigger,” Audra offered at the show’s conclusion. Noted.
P.S. It was a grand event at Caramoor, which amply set the stage for another summer to remember. It’s not too late to make this a Caramoor summer. Please visit www.caramoor.org for more that’s in store!