HARVIN COLUMN: Concert group to host actor-singer Audra McDonald

Audra McDonald will perform Thursday at the Gaillard Auditorium.


This week is an important week. We vote and we salute our veterans. We can go to a funny play about our changing families. And we get to hear Audra McDonald sing.

There isn't much of an art to voting. It's pretty straightforward. You just show up with your ID in hand and punch some buttons. But much like a concert, you are likely to see some neighbors and have something to talk about.

That's partly the way I think of art performances. Just substitute the ID for a ticket, and get prepared for an experience.

Concert association

McDonald will be singing at 7 p.m. Thursday at the Gaillard Auditorium, sponsored by the Charleston Concert Association, and if you have never heard her voice, you have missed something spectacular.

She's probably best-known to a wide audience as Dr. Naomi Bennett in the TV series "Private Practice." She played Addison's best friend in the "Grey's Anatomy" spin-off, but left this season to follow her singing and recording career.

But for those who follow Broadway, McDonald is far more than a sexy physician. She's a force to be reckoned with.

Her voice is rich and warm, but at the same time, she has a great range. She is three parts opera singer and one part sexy crooner. She sings song cycles with the prestigious New York Philharmonic and at Carnegie Hall, but then turns around and releases a new album based on pop and jazz songs.

She has won Tony Awards, a Grammy and been nominated for Emmy Awards because she crosses over between acting on stage and screen as well as singing. This is a woman who has sung for President Barack Obama, and then the performance was turned into a PBS show.

Very rarely does a performer come along who is so successful at all of these forms.

Right now, she's in the process of bringing Charleston's signature opera, "Porgy and Bess," to Broadway, with the opening night still to come this fall. It's getting mixed reviews in the previews from Boston, but it should be exciting when the show finally opens.

She's also in the middle of a tour and will appear Friday in Greenville at the Peace Center if you can't go Thursday.

It promises to be a memorable concert you won't want to miss.

Go to www.charlestonconcerts.org.

Veterans Day salute

On Friday, our veterans will be honored with a concert at Doar Hall at St. Paul's Church in Summerville.

The Summerville Community Orchestra will perform, and it's bound to be a rousing concert that will include the "Star-Spangled Banner," an Armed Forces Medley and selections from "The Nutcracker Suite."

Conductor Alex Agrest has been working to build the orchestra since 2005, and this year they launched a new website that will help keep up with the orchestra's activities.

You can find everything you need to know in one spot, summervilleorchestra.com.

Tickets are $10 for adults for the 7 p.m. concert.

'Over the River'

If you want a story about changing families, this is the play for you.

Starting Thursday and running into December, Midtown/Sheri Grace Productions will present "Over the River and Into the Woods."

It is about a loving family, and the pain of letting go.

"My grandparents firmly believed in the three 'F's' of life: family, faith and food," says Nick, the young, single Italian-American character from Hoboken, N.J.

With his parents retired and relocated to Florida and his sister in San Diego, Nick finds himself in the position of being the sole recipient of his grandparents' love -- and meddling. Every week, he sees both sets of his grandparents for Sunday dinner.

So you can imagine what happens when he tells them that he has a dream job and is moving.

The grandparents start scheming to keep him in town, and that involves setting him up with a girl. It's a perfect set-up for mischief.

To find out more, you'll have to go see the play. It promises to be light-hearted fun.

The theater is at 915 Folly Road.

Go to midtownproductions.org for the show times and ticket prices.