Throwback Thursday: ‘The Lloyd-Webber Trio’

Audra McDonald, Marin Mazzie and Judy Kuhn (screen capture)
Audra McDonald, Marin Mazzie and Judy Kuhn (screen capture)

I’m been meaning to post this for a Throwback Thursday post for months, but the Thursdays roll by and…well, I used to be blond.

In any case, many times I get to the end of the day and I don’t want to pay attention to an hour-long story on TV.

So, I fire up the YouTube app on my Apple TV and chill watching videos I’ve ‘favorited’ in the past.

This performance is easily one of my ‘go-to’ videos.

Recorded live at the My Favorite Broadway: The Leading Ladies concert on September 28, 1998, at Carnegie Hall, this trio of world-class Broadway actresses come together beautifully in a mashup of three Andrew Lloyd Webber love songs.

Six-time Tony Award winner Audra McDonald, and Tony Award nominees Marin Mazzie (who we lost last year to a long cancer battle) & Judy Kuhn, separately perform “Love Changes Everything,” “Unexpected Song” and “I Don’t Know How to Love Him,” respectively, to stunning effect,

Go ahead and hit play first, then I’ll share a few things.

Awesome, right?

Now, I wanted to explain why this lands with me so well.

First, what I hear: all three singers have terrific musicianship.

When I listen to this, I hear voices singing to the ends of the phrases. They never kind of ‘peter out.’ They sing – with energy – to the ends of the phrases and cut off with purpose.

Sometimes you’ll hear singers be a bit lazy and hold a note too long. The problem can be the note they hold might clash with the chord structure of the next phrase.

Second, notice how all three actresses stay focused on the stories they’re telling.

Look at their eyes – even when not singing, they never leave the narrative they’re in. Even when they all move downstage at the 5:52 mark, they don’t glance at the other two singers. They are IN it.

And finally, huge props to the arranger (I believe it was David Loud?) who wove these songs into such a gorgeous tapestry. Bonus points for making sure the ladies’ lyrics for backup phrases all still make sense in each of their stories. No one ever sings a word that doesn’t logically fit into their ‘scene.’

The entire concert is well worth watching (the DVD is available on Amazon). The production features a veritable whos-who of Broadway leading ladies including the aforementioned as well as Bebe Neuwirth, Karen Ziemba, Andrea McArdle, Linda Eder, Jennifer Holiday, Priscilla Lopez, Nell Carter, Dorothy Loudon, Rebecca Luker, and Elaine Stritch.