Five-time Tony winner Audra McDonald was last seen on Broadway in the 2012 Tony-winning revival of The Gershwin's Porgy and Bess, but all of her adoring fans will soon be able to see her perform live (sort of) in the upcoming live TV telecast of Rodgers and Hammerstein's The Sound of Music. McDonald will be throwing on the habit to play the kind but authoritative Mother Abbess in the show, which NBC will broadcast on December 5. The star recently spoke with The Los Angeles Times about why she gives producer Neil Meron a lot of "credit" for casting her as the nun, what frightens her most about performing and when she'll take another walk on the Great White Way.
With "Climb Ev'ry Mountain," McDonald (as Mother Abbess) will be responsible for being Maria's (Carrie Underwood) guiding light and convincing her to face the Captain (Stephen Moyer) and discover if they love each other, so, naturally, she's thrilled to be taking on the role. "It's certainly never a role I thought I'd be in! For obvious reasons," McDonald told the Times. "I have to credit Neil [Meron] for thinking outside of the box and inviting me to be part of it." She also said that she won't be channeling the "70-year-old woman" from the movie, and that she's thinking a lot "about where she's come from and what her life has been, what in her past life led her to put on the habit and take on this lifestyle."
In a recent interview with Billboard.com, Underwood said that the live telecast of The Sound of Music is going to be "challenging" for the whole cast, which also includes Tony winners Laura Benanti (Elsa) and Christian Borle (Max), but—like the true stage champ she is—McDonald isn't afraid. "We're approaching it as if it were a staged night in the theater," she said. "I think it's going to be a big challenge, it's a huge task, but I'm excited about it. It's a very diverse cast and it's going to be fun. It doesn't scare me." So, what does scare the almighty McDonald? "Oh, roles scare me—the fear of abject failure. The next role, the next adventure, will I be able to do it? All of that frightens me."
And now for the part you've all been dying to hear about. When is McDonald going to come back home to Broadway and grace us with her soprano-singing, there's-nothing-she-can't-do, ever-loving, let's-win-another-Tony presence?! Sooner than you might think. "The stage is my first language. Broadway. Musical theater," she said. "I am looking at heading to Broadway again sometime soon. I can't say right now what it is, but...there is a project. And it will probably pop up next on Broadway." Let the guessing games and dream casting begin!