Checking star date, tonight. It is the Long Night Moon sometimes remembered as a blue Moon. And once in a blue moon Audra McDonald sang a great set of songs in front of the Philadelphia Orchestra and conductor Rossen Milanov. Audra made an elegant entrance in a gold and black cocktail low-cut cocktail gown, otherwise radiant. They were chums from Julliard and are now sharing the stage. And it may have been a mean wintry mix all day but in Verizon Hall the livin’ was easy as started the night off with Gershwin’s Summertime, well worn American classic, but never sounding hotter. Rossen frontloaded this concert with very satisfying urban play list. Audra chatted the audience up instantly introducing ‘I Could Have Danced All Night’ as a song she avoided because everyone else has sung it, but she also proved that she could be an unforgettable My Fair Lady. On ‘Fascinating Rhythm’ the band swings out and Audra is a Broadway Baby, slinging growls and vibrato to great effect. Could there have been ‘You could drive a person crazy’ without Frank Loesser’s ‘Can’t Stop Talkin’ Bout the Man’ the motor mouth lyric is hilarious. McDonald mezzo-stalks and the boys in the band vamp back. Priceless. Audra also attempted ‘Over the Rainbow’ in homage to her favorite singer Judy, but to avoid any comparison she sang an unGarlandy version with just guitar accompaniment. Then there is Moon River. A song that doesn’t lend itself to a meaty soprano, but thanks to a great arrangement, actually tres Mancini, this is so vocally sublime. I was undone by the time there was that hook in her voice at rainbows end. I’ll have to resort to notes for the rest of the night. What a great moment when Audra came back on to sing an Irish lullaby that quoted Auld Lang Syne which the audience joined in on unceremoniously, and when we rose and seemed united, at least in music, for a moment. Walking home in the rain I looked down the long shadows and gates on Delancey Street and there was no Huckleberry friend. So it’s midnight and clouds are covering the blue moon, but there are echoes of Audra. And coco and Garbo, natch. Cheers

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