The performing arts are close to award winning singer and actress Audra McDonald’s heart, and she hopes to inspire and captivate the University of Central Arkansas with her performance Nov. 2.

McDonald says Broadway, musical theatre and opera are part of the performing arts history of America and it’s important to introduce the performing arts to audiences of all ages.

"I consider it to be the original American art form," she said, "an art form that has a very fantastic and rich history, and a tradition that we can continue, so we have to educate each generation."

For her upcoming performance at UCA, McDonald will be singing a mix of Broadway classics and songs from contemporary musical theatre.

McDonald said she would be singing compositions from newer, up-and-coming artists like Jason Robert Brown and already established musical theater composers such as George Gershwin.

A full band will accompany McDonald’s vocal soprano.

McDonald says she always enjoys college audiences because she feels like they are a platform to inspire students.

"With college audiences I have the opportunity to help inspire young people starting out in musical theatre or the arts," she said.

She made her Broadway debut as a replacement in "The Secret Garden" while she was a student at Juilliard.

In 1994, McDonald won her first Tony Award for Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Musical for her role in "Carousel."

McDonald said the opening night of "Carousel" is her most memorable performance.

By 1998, she won two more Tony Awards becoming the first person to win three Tony Awards before the age of 30.

After four season’s of playing Dr. Naomi Bennett in ABC’s "Private Practice," McDonald returned to Broadway and won her fifth Tony Award for her role in Porgy and Bess.

McDonald now shares the record for most Tony Awards won by an Actor with Julie Harris and Angela Lansbury.

McDonald also has two Grammy Awards for Best Opera Recording & Best Classical Album for Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny.

In May, McDonald released a new solo album, "Go Back Home."

"I’ve been saying this album is my most personal album," she said. "It took me seven years to complete. I was having issues putting it together I didn’t have anything particular to say."

During that seven year span, a lot of major life changes occurred, McDonald said, including the death of her father and the marriage to her husband Will Swenson.

As a result, McDonald said she finally had something to say.

"It’s a human album," she said. "It has a lot of things relatable to human experience."

Future projects include NBC’s live production of "The Sound of Music." McDonald will star as Mother Abbess opposite Carrie Underwood, Stephen Moyer, Laura Benanti and Christian Borle. The performance will air Dec. 5.

McDonald will take the Reynolds Performance Hall stage Nov. 2 at 7:30 p.m.

(Staff writer Michelle Corbet can be reached by email at michelle.corbet@thecabin.net or by phone at 505-1215. To comment on this and other stories in the Log Cabin, log on to www.thecabin.net. Send us your news at www.thecabin.net/submit)