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Audra McDonald: 'South Florida has a good idea of who I am'

Audra McDonald has no idea what she will be doing for her appearance at Fort Lauderdale's Parker Playhouse. Best known for the TV drama "Private Practice," the six-time Tony Award winner on Jan. 8 will open Seth Rudetsky's Broadway Concert Series.

"I will tell you the great thing about performing with Seth is you never know what he's going to make you do," McDonald says from her New York home. "He'll have a bunch of songs ready, and he'll decide in the moment what he's going to ask you to sing and what he's going to ask you to talk about. I'm super comfortable. We've been friends for 20 years or more. You know you're going to have a good time no matter what you end up doing."

The series pairs Broadway stars with pianist Rudetsky, a show-tune savant and SiriusXM Satellite Radio star, in irreverent onstage interviews peppered with performances of songs from the Great White Way in which the luminaries have appeared.

"I don't think a lot of people realize how funny Audra is, because she always plays a character [on Broadway] who dies," Rudetsky says. "I think people need to realize that she is hilarious. She's not just singing opera all the time. She's very eclectic."

McDonald, whose stage credits include "Porgy and Bess," "Ragtime," "Master Class" and "A Raisin in the Sun," agrees, and says that is why she so often returns to perform in South Florida.

"South Florida has a good idea of who I am," she says. "That always helps, if they come knowing what kind of performer you are and what to expect. I'm a little out of the box."

In December, McDonald filmed her latest Broadway hit, "Lady Day at Emerson's Bar and Grill," at Café Brasil in New Orleans for broadcast on HBO. (An air date has yet to be scheduled.)

"I just got back from New Orleans," she says during the Dec. 22 interview. "We've been filming for the past week. I just got back two days ago. We took the whole band into a club, and were able to re-create it. We brought in a live audience. It was incredible, magical."

Audra McDonald will appear Thursday, Jan. 8, at Parker Playhouse, 707 NE Eighth St., in Fort Lauderdale. Showtime is 8 p.m. Tickets cost $51.50 to $126.50. To order, call 800-745-3000 or go to ParkerPlayhouse.com. Seth Rudetsky's Broadway Concert Series will continue on Feb. 14 with Cheyenne Jackson ("30 Rock," "Glee," "Xanadu," "All Shook Up") and on March 20 with Sutton Foster ("The Drowsy Chaperone," "Young Frankenstein,' "Shrek the Musical," "Anything Goes").

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