Summertime at Guild Hall

Audra McDonald has been touring in support of her new album, “Go Back Home.”
Audra McDonald, a winner of five Tony and two Grammy Awards, will perform with her jazz ensemble at Guild Hall on July 6. Michael Wilson

   Audra McDonald, the celebrated soprano and actress, will perform at Guild Hall with her jazz ensemble on July 6 at 7 p.m.
    A graduate of the Juilliard School of Music, Ms. McDonald has been touring in support of her new album, “Go Back Home.” Released on May 21 on Nonesuch Records, it is her fifth album for Nonesuch and first in seven years. “Go Back Home,” which debuted at No. 2 on Billboard’s Heatseekers chart, features songs by composers including Stephen Sondheim, Adam Guettel, Michael John LaChiusa, and Rodgers and Hammerstein.
    On June 9, Ms. McDonald, who has won five Tony Awards and two Grammy Awards, was a presenter at the 67th annual Tony Awards, held at Radio City Music Hall. She then closed the show in a surprise performance with the actor and director Neil Patrick Harris.
    Her tour will run through December and will include performances with the Boston Symphony Orchestra and the San Francisco Symphony. At Guild Hall, Ms. McDonald will perform songs from “Go Back Home” along with songs recently added to her repertoire and, perhaps, a few surprises.
    Ms. McDonald spoke with The Star last week between concert appearances in Michigan and Massachusetts. A resident of New York City, she has been to East Hampton — “It’s beautiful and hard to get there,” she observed — but has not performed here until now.
    “I play all different types of venues,” she said. “Venues that are 4,000 [seats] or so, I’ve done the Hollywood Bowl, and also really intimate little recital halls. I have to say I enjoy all of it. The intimacy is always a great thing in a concert setting. The smaller the hall, the more intimate it is. That can work with you and against you. If they’re really connecting with you, it’s a beautiful, magical thing. If not, you know it right away.”
    Ms. McDonald won her first Tony just one year after graduating from Juilliard, for Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Musical for “Carousel.” The Tony Awards continued for her performances in “Master Class,” “Ragtime,” “A Raisin in the Sun,” and, last year, “The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess.” With her fifth Tony, she joined Julie Harris and Angela Lansbury as the only actors in Tony history to win five performance awards.
    Ms. McDonald has also appeared in theatrical productions of “The Secret Garden,” “Marie Christine,” “Henry IV,” “110 in the Shade,” and “Twelfth Night.” Her operatic credits include a double bill featuring “La voix humaine” and “Send,” and Kurt Weill’s “Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny,” the recording of the latter production accounting for her Grammy Awards, for Best Opera Recording and Best Classical Album.
   Ms. McDonald promised “an eclectic mix of music” at her Guild Hall performance. “I may sing ‘Summertime,’ I may not,” she said of the best-known song from “Porgy and Bess.” “That one pops up depending upon my mood — I don’t know how else to put it — and so does ‘Your Daddy’s Son,’ from ‘Ragtime.’ I have a visceral reaction to those songs because of having done them in the context of the show. Sometimes it’s hard for me to do in concert.”
    In any event, Ms. McDonald promised a night of “American musical theater, from 1929 all the way to 2011” at Guild Hall. “I’m looking forward to the beauty of the scenery and that hall,” she said.