Actress-singer Audra McDonald, whose concert tour has extended into August with dates in the country's midsection, returns to the East Coast this weekend with a gig at Manhattan's Town Hall, June 12. The night will be a benefit for the Gay Men's Health Crisis; tickets are $40 and $65.
McDonald's tour is to support her new album, "How Glory Goes." The remaining tour runs as follows:
• June 12: New York, NY, Town Hall (Benefit for Gay Men's Health Crisis)
• June 17: Dayton, OH, Dayton Philharmonic
• July 4: Washington, DC, National Symphony, Independence Day broadcast
• July 8: Hollywood, CA, Hollywood Bowl
• July 15: Cleveland, OH, Blossom Festival, Cleveland Orchestra
• July 21: San Francisco, CA, San Francisco Symphony
• Aug. 6: Detroit, MI, Meadowbrook Festival, Detroit Symphony
• Aug. 16: Chicago, IL, Ravinia Festival
The new album, featuring liner notes by former New York Times chief theatre critic Frank Rich, is a collection of new theatre songs and old standards. The mixture is a marked departure from her debut recording, "Way Back to Paradise," which was entirely given over to young, rising composers such as Michael John LaChiusa, Adam Guettel and Jason Robert Brown.
Guettel is the only one of those tunesmiths to make a return appearance on the new CD. He penned the title tune, "How Glory Goes" (from Floyd Collins) and co-wrote "Was That You?" Also on the CD will be "Lay Down Your Head," a selection from the musical Violet by Jeanine Tesori and Brian Crowley, two other representatives of the so-called "new theatre music." For much of the album, however, McDonald tries her hand at some of the classic musical composers. Harold Arlen is particularly well represented. McDonald sings Arlen's "Any Place I Hang My Hat Is Home" and "I Had Myself a True Love," both from St. Louis Woman; "I Never Has Seen Snow" and "A Sleepin' Bee," both from House of Flowers; and "The Man That Got Away" from the Judy Garland film version of "A Star Is Born."
Reportedly, McDonald has spotlighted Arlen in recent concerts, commenting that, though she doesn't normally care for singing standards, she makes an exception for the composer.
Following is the complete song list:
"Any Place I Hang My Hat Is Home" (Arlen-Mercer)
"I Had Myself a True Love" (Arlen-Mercer)
"I Hid My Love" (Marzullo, poem by J. Clare)
"Was That You?" (Guettel-Robbins)
"I Won't Mind" (Blumenkrantz-Kessler-Saines)
"A Sleepin' Bee" (Arlen-Capote)
"Come Down from the Tree" (Flaherty-Ahrens)
"I Never Has Seen Snow" (Arlen-Capote)
"When Did I Fall in Love" (Bock-Harnick)
"The Man That Got Away" (Arlen-Gershwin)
"How Glory Goes" (Guettel)
"Lay Down Your Head" (Tesori-Crawley).
"Way Back to Paradise" was a surprise hit for Nonesuch Records, selling more than 30,000 copies.
-- By Robert Simonson