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BWW Countdown: You Get to Rank Your Favorite Audra McDonald Roles

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There is little doubt who is the reigning queen of Broadway. With five Tony Awards and eight nominations in just 20 years, Audra McDonald has held that title for quite a while now. In addition to her prolific stage career, she also has found time to do turns on TV and have a recording and touring career. If Audra wins her sixth Tony this Sunday, she will become the first actor to do so in the four major acting categories.

Whether or not she wins number six is up to the voters, but now, BroadwayWorld wants to know which of Audra's roles is your favorite. Take a look at the list, follow @BroadwayWorld on Twitter, and tweet the hashtag #BWWCountdownAudra and your answer. We will unveil your picks this Friday, June 13th.


Sarah in RAGTIME

BWW Countdown: You Get to Rank Your Favorite Audra McDonald Roles

Though the original production of RAGTIME predates BroadwayWorld, and she already had won Tonys for CAROUSEL and MASTER CLASS, how could we not include the show that earned Audra her third Tony Award in five years and legions of fans. With a start like this, it must have felt like her career was taking off on the "Wheels of a Dream."

Watch Audra and Brian Stokes Mitchell perform "Wheels of a Dream" on THE ROSIE O'DONNELL SHOW (click here) from the BWW TV archive.

#BWWCountdownAudra #Sarah


Ruth Younger in A RAISIN IN THE SUN

BWW Countdown: You Get to Rank Your Favorite Audra McDonald Roles

Audra won her fourth Tony for playing the put-upon wife Ruth Younger in the classic American play A RAISIN IN THE SUN. The entire Broadway cast reprised their roles for a TV movie adaptation. With a cast featuring Phylicia Rashad and Sean "P Diddy" Combs, this incredible production surely didn't "whither up and die."

Check out photos from the film premiere at Sundance and from the New York screening from the BWW Archives. BroadwayWorld also has a closer look (click here) at the TV movie, and you can see Audra discuss her character (click here) and a watch a Sneak Peek of TV version (click here) in our TV archives.

#BWWCountdownAudra #Ruth


Lizzie Curry in 110 IN THE SHADE

BWW Countdown: You Get to Rank Your Favorite Audra McDonald Roles

Next Audra appeared in 110 IN THE SHADE, and earned her sixth Tony nomination as Lizzie, a small town woman attracted, against her better judgment, to a con-man promising that he can end the town's drought. As Audra returned to the Broadway in a musical for the first time in nine years, we were reminded that when she's on stage, "Everything Beautiful Happens at Night."

The BWW archives have photos from the Opening Night Curtain Call and Opening Night Party. Our TV archives also have wonderful performance highlights (click here).

#BWWCountdownAudra #Lizzie


Dr. Naomi Bennett in PRIVATE PRACTICE

BWW Countdown: You Get to Rank Your Favorite Audra McDonald Roles

Yes, this is a TV show, and not really one that has a Broadway connection, but come on, are you going to tell me that seeing Audra on TV every week wasn't a great thing?

#BWWCountdownAudra #Naomi


Olivia in TWELFTH NIGHT

BWW Countdown: You Get to Rank Your Favorite Audra McDonald Roles

In 2009, Audra showed off her Shakespeare chops by starring alongside Anne Hathaway in Shakespeare in the Park's TWELFTH NIGHT. The production also starred Broadway greats Raul Esparza, Julie White, Hamish Linklater, and Stark Sands. Even if she was just a woman in disguise, how could Viola not fall in love with Audra?

Check out performance shots, Opening Night Curtain Call pictures, and Opening Night Party candids from the BWW Archive.

#BWWCountdownAudra #Olivia


Bess in THE GERSHWINS' PORGY AND BESS

BWW Countdown: You Get to Rank Your Favorite Audra McDonald Roles

In a role that Audra was seemingly born to play, she took on the vocally and emotionally challenging PORGY & BESS in the revised production opposite Norm Lewis. For her efforts Audra took home her fifth Tony Award, again proving that if Audra is on stage, all of America is screaming, "O Lawd, I'm On My Way."

The BroadwayWorld Archives have rehearsal and performance shots from the show; as well as Opening Night Curtain Call and Party pictures. Our TV archives have a Sneak Peek as well as a complete show preview of over 34 minutes of performances (click here). We also have exclusive Opening Night Party interviews (click here) and Audra told BWW's Richard Ridge why she almost passed on the opportunity to play Bess (click here).

#BWWCountdownAudra #Bess


"Empire State of Mind" at the 2013 Tony Awards

BWW Countdown: You Get to Rank Your Favorite Audra McDonald Roles

At last year's Tonys, Audra and host Neil Patrick Harris dueted on an amazing version of "Empire State of Mind" penned as the show was happening by Lin-Manuel Miranda. While NPH rapping about the night's winners and performances was incredible, nothing was as epic as Audra's post-song mic drop. Take that Alicia Keys.

Though CBS has removed the video from YouTube for copyright infringement, you can still see all of the lyrics on our 2014 Tony Lyric Watch from our Archive (click here), and you can probably find it somewhere else online if you are so inclined!

#BWWCountdownAudra #MicDrop


Mother Abbess in THE SOUND OF MUSIC LIVE!

BWW Countdown: You Get to Rank Your Favorite Audra McDonald Roles

Alongside country superstar Carrie Underwood, and a host of Broadway favorites, Audra donned the habit of Mother Abbess for NBC's THE SOUND OF MUSIC LIVE! After watching this, there is no doubt that I would "Climb Every Mountain" to have Audra look into my eyes and sing.

The BroadwayWorld archive has performance shots and a fun photo from the on-set wrap party. We also have a bunch of clips as well. You can watch Audra perform "Climb Every Mountain" (click here) at a concert, and the movie's first commercial, as well as a second promo. You can also hear Audra and Carrie sing "My Favorite Things" in this "First Listen."

#BWWCountdownAudra #MotherAbbess


Billie Holliday in LADY DAY AT EMERSON'S BAR & GRILL

BWW Countdown: You Get to Rank Your Favorite Audra McDonald Roles

Audra is back on Broadway as jazz great Billie Holiday in LADY DAY AT EMERSON'S BAR & GRILL. The show chronicles one of the singer's last concerts before she died at age 44 after battling drug and alcohol addiction. With this show, Audra has to be thinking "Somebody's on My Mind," and his name is Tony!

The BWW Archives has performance shots and photos of the Opening Night Curtain Call. Also, BWW's Richard Ridge spoke to Audra at the Opening Night Party (click here), and the BWW TV Archives has remarkable performance highlights (click here).

#BWWCountdownAudra #Billie


Still haven't had your Audra appetite filled? Check out these other pieces from the BroadwayWorld Archive:

Rumor has it that Audra could be coming back to Broadway later this season with Oprah in 'NIGHT MOTHER.
Watch Audra's hilarious special appearance in this season's SUBMISSIONS ONLY (click here).
Earlier this spring, BWW looked back at her career in a BWW Spotlight.
Last fall, Audra spoke to BWW about her national tour for her CD GO BACK HOME.
Last spring, Audra spoke to BWW's Pat Cerasaro as part of his InDepth InterView series.
In 2013, BWW brought you an exclusive listen to her CD GO BACK HOME (click here).

Now, follow @BroadwayWorld on Twitter and vote for your favorite Audra role by tweeting your pick and the hashtag #BWWCountdownAudra. Then remember to check back this Friday, June 13th to see the results.

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Matt Tamanini Matt is BroadwayWorld's Chief TV and Film critic. He also writes across other BWW sites, including BWW Orlando, and serves as BWW's Database Manager. He received a BA in Journalism/Communications from The Ohio State University and has worked in sports broadcasting, media relations, and journalism. He also has directed and/or produced over 30 plays and musicals, and is currently writing two plays of his own. You can connect with Matt through Twitter: @BWWMatt.


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