TVLine's Performer of the Week: Audra McDonald

Audra McDonald The Sound of Music LiveA weekly feature in which we spotlight shining stars

THE PERFORMER | Audra McDonald

THE SHOW | The Sound of Music Live!

THE AIRDATE | December 5, 2013

THE PERFORMANCE | When you think The Sound of Music, you think Maria. You think the Von Trapp kids. You think lonely goatherds, edelweiss and brown paper packages tied up with string. And generally, unless you played her in your high school’s production of the musical, you do not think about the Mother Abbess.

Which may be why McDonald was such a revelation in the role.

The Private Practice alum brought a grounded intensity to the often-overlooked part, making the head nun a real presence in the show. In McDonald’s hands – and Broadway-honed pipes – “Climb Ev’ry Mountain” changed from a string of clichéd platitudes into some truly ponderable life advice for the confused young governess. And her voice is a religious experience in and of itself. Let’s just say that Maria wasn’t the only one with tears in her eyes by the end of the number!

RELATED | Reader Poll: Was Sound of Music Live! Music to Your Ears?

HONORABLE MENTION | General Hospital‘s Jason Thompson had to play one of daytime TV’s most overused scenarios this week when his alter ego’s presumed-dead wife returned from the great beyond… good thing he absolutely nailed it. Thompson took what could have been silly and made it achingly sad as Patrick – torn between fiancée Sabrina and love-of-his-life Robin – wept in joy, sorrow and confusion. For hours. (To use the show’s parlance, get this guy a cooling gel mask, stat!)

RELATED | The Good Wife Mystery: Did Peter Sleep With Marilyn?

HONORABLE MENTION | Josh Charles, on the warpath (and totally riveting) for The Good Wife‘s entire fifth season, took us even deeper into his character’s psyche in “The Decision Tree,” the show’s gasp-inducing 100th episode. As Will sat alone and prepared for a courtroom grilling of Alicia in a case involving a contested will, we saw him grapple with the complicated mix of feelings stirred up by his plan to take his personal knowledge of his erstwhile lover and law partner and use it against her. In a mix of flashbacks and daydreams, Charles deftly transitioned Will from bloodthirsty legal shark to heartbroken paramour to mischievious sexual partner. By the time the duo faced off in a deliciously nasty courtroom scene, we had a deeper understanding of Will’s pain over Alicia’s betrayal — and his resolve to use that emotion to fuel his newfound career ambitions.

Which performances rocked your TV set this week? Sound off in the comments!

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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  1. Kevin says:

    Agreed with Audra! Laura Benati was also amazing

  2. Daisy says:

    Josh Charles was great on The Good Wife. That show is on fire, cannot wait to find out what happends next.

  3. Morgan says:

    1000% Agree! Audra was the best part of the show

  4. So glad to see Jason Thompson recognized here. Soap stars work harder and longer than anyone in this business, and his performance was just mesmerizing. GH had me in tears with Robin’s reunion with her family. Emma running to her mother just as Robin had with Anna 25 years earlier… Amazing. It was a roller coaster of emotions, and so showed why we watch soaps. Because when they nail it, they make you feel everything.

    • Amanda says:

      This was an amazing week for GH. So glad you recognized it!

    • Tenney says:

      I could not agree with you more Linn. This past week on GH was fantastic. Jason Thompson as Patrick showed happiness, sadness, shock, and confusion all at the same time. He is a star. Watching Robin watch Patrick and Sabrina getting married was so sad. Her face as she realized for the first time that she couldn’t just run in there and stop the wedding because Patrick was in love with Sabrina. Then little Emma running into Robin’s arms was so touching and beautiful. Stories like this and acting like this is the reason why many still watch soaps. I am so glad that tvline recognized GH and Jason Thompson this week.

  5. Carlos Alvarez says:

    Josh Charles was amazing on The Good Wife. One of the best shows on tv right now. The acting is so good

  6. Eric7740 says:

    Thank you for recognizing Jason Thompson and General Hospital. He and Kim McCullough both had me in tears!!! Great job by these two actors!!!

    • uh huh says:

      Jason Thompson, absolutely. But Kimberly McCullough is a mediocre actress at best–and that’s being generous. It’s only her legacy status that keeps fans loving her. If you looked at her performances objectively, they are one-note and boring. Especially when put up against such a gifted actor as Thompson. He acts rings around her in every scene.

      • carlycane says:

        I agree about Kimberly. She played Robin so boring, so I’m glad Jason Thompson got the nod for best acting skills. He carried that scene to the hill. Too bad he doesn’t get an award for his performace because his is long overdue.

      • Tom says:

        Disagree about her being mediocre. Actually find it ridiculous since she was nominated and won 2 Emmys along with the soap genre giving both Kimberly and Jason accolades for their work and the couple Robin andPatrick just saw each other.

      • neha says:

        Yeah, I’m always afraid to say anything about KM, because her fan base is HUGE and very vocal. I’ve always thought she was average, and that the supposed chemistry between Scrubs was WAY overrated, and not comparable to the chemistry between greats like Sonny and Brenda. I will say, I haven’t seen her stuff with Stone and when she first got HIV, so it’s possible that her she did amazing work in the past. But, this week? It was all Jason Thompson.

        • yay says:

          I’ve been watching her since she was a teen. When her character contracted HIV she was absolutely amazing!

        • Jamie says:

          Thing is, she is kind of an average actor, and Jason Thompson does often act in circles around her, but their chemistry is still INSANE. They give me the shivers sometimes. Sonny and Brenda were ridiculously incredible together, but they never gave me the feels quite like Patrick and Robin.

        • Kathy says:

          Please Kimberly won two daytime Emmys and even JT said she taught him everything he knows. Patrick hadn’t shown any emotion until Kimberly can back this time and seemed to be walking through scenes. Who could blame him with the forced pairing they put him in while giving Robin’s life on a silver platter to a Newbie nurse who couldn’t make it on her own. Lets not forget Britt had to be so so evil so the nurse looked good in comparison. As for Sacrubs being overrated, LOL, they got their OWN show Night Shift because of the amazing chemistry and viewers couldn’t get enough of them (and complained to ABC) on GH because of the mob garbage with Guza.
          So many characters are overrated like Sonny Carly but Scrubs and Robin and Patrick are not.

    • Tom says:

      Kimberly McCullough and Jason Thimpson both get accolades. When these two play opposite each other, it is like there is no one else in the room. their chemistry jumps out at you. Kimberly has a way of bringing out the best in JasonnThompson just like in the tie scene. Kimberly is an amazing actress too.

    • Debbie M. says:

      Little Emma is a fantastic little actress. I’m hoping the brass at GH realize what a gem they have with her and don’t “age” her character and she turns out to have as long a career on the show as her on-screen mommy.

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  8. JohnD says:

    I totally agree on Audra! And also agree that Laura Benanti was on fire, too. I love how much more of a human being Elsa is in the stage version of SoM, and Benanti really brought that out.

    Of course, even three-dimensional human beings can through shade with the best of them. ;)

  9. cjeffery7 says:

    everybody on Masters of Sex. as per usual. but i know you can’t put them on here every week ;-)

  10. Rachel says:

    Lana Parrilla on Once Upon a Time. She went from loving mother to ruthless queen numerous times in one episode. Plus, her “I have no regrets” line was perfect.

  11. Okay, Audra is amazing. BUT, isn’t *anyone* bothered by the historical discrepancy here?

    • Ever says:

      Only racists, Barbie.

      • Dude, racism has ABSOLUTELY nothing to do with this. NOTHING. Audra sings beautifully. And had it been a 2013 story, she’d been perfect for the role. But… this was 1930s. pre-Nazi Austria. If you look at HISTORY, there just weren’t black people there. It has nothing to do with how I feel. It’s history.

        • Ever says:

          You weren’t there, I doubt you would know. But, this is a make believe musical. It was based on real people but 90% of the the musical was made up. This was a remake of the stage production. Casting the best for the part is a modern idea, and this was produced in 2013.

          Being defensive is an indication of insecurity and reflection of yourself. Why bring up her race? Audra has stated “whenever I hear about my race in this part I just roll my eyes, it says a lot more about them than me. I don’t have time for people that small”. You are small, so…go away.

          • Why would I feel insecure about someone’s race? I couldn’t care less about that! Audra is an amazing performer! She’s an amazing woman and I admire her. The issue ‘race’ here comes up because history comes into place. No, I wasn’t there. But anyone who’s actually studied history would know that.

            And race here is an issue because it’s about historical and social and cultural context. Would you cast white women to a movie about the sexual exploitation of women in Nigeria or Angola? You wouldn’t. Same way you shouldn’t cast a black women in 1930s Austria. Because it makes no historical sense.

            When it comes to the modern times, race plays no part in casting. At least when you’re talking about Europe or the Americas. Because even today, there are some places in Europe and Asia where there are very few black people. Not because people are racist, but because black migration didn’t happen there.

            If you go to Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Iceland, you’ll see very few black people on the streets. So, if you’re shooting a movie in those countries, unless there’s a very specific motive, casting a black person feels out of context. On the other hand, if you’re talking the Americas, other parts of Europe, it makes little different.

            I’m from South America. If someone made a movie with a bunh of blonde, blued eyed people, we’d all be like, “Who are these people and why are they here?”

            It needs to make contextual sense to work.

          • Ever says:

            It’s a musical dude. A made up thing. The entire thing was not historically accurate. Audra would want nothing to do with you. Your comparisons are embarrassing (for you) and you have an issue with black people. See, I would know this because when you complain about us and question why we are IN MUSICALS… are a racist. Once and for all, go away. You got schooled below this post as well. As it should be.

          • Drew says:

            This is why the term “racist” has lost all meaning. Nothing said here was remotely racist. It was a relevant question to ask since it is a story about Nazis and race was a bit of an issue for them. The story was not historically accurate but we really shouldn’t be writing off Nazi stories as fluff and fantasy.

            I personally don’t care who as cast in the part. It wasn’t an issue for me. But calling someone racist just for raising the topic is silly.

        • Ally_D says:

          There also were no (for so few as to be almost invisible) Oklahomans, New Yorkers or Pennsylvanians in Austria in 1938 yet you seem to have no problem with Carrie Underwood, Laura Benanti or Christian Borle’s presence in this production. And did you have a problem with the other thirty or so white actors also in the show, who it is reasonable to assume are American not Austrian?
          Audra’s comments in interviews are correct – you’re issue with her ethnicity says more about you than it does anyone else.

    • J says:

      Non-traditional casting is sort of normal in Golden Age-era musicals, so nah, not really.

      Strangely, I heard more complaints about a brunette Rolf than about Audra. Talk about evolving perspectives!

    • Mika C says:

      No. Audra rocked the roll!

      The only “casting” issue I saw was Underwood as Maria — who it have killed her to lose the Oklahoma twang for a few hours?

      • Drew says:

        Because an English accent is much more realistic for a 1940’s Austrian?

      • The accents, everything was wrong with it. But having black people in 1930s Austria is historically innacurate, that’s all.

        • Ally_D says:

          No that’s not all.
          As you have alluded to, having Americans and Brits playing Austrian characters complete with non-Austrian accents – heck, even speaking in English – is not historically accurate. But since you have no issue with the fact they were not speaking in Austrian German, simply Audra’s ethnicity, it it not unreasonable to conclude that you are prejudiced based on race. You can deny it as much as you like but until you state your objections to the production based on anything other than race, you are demonstrating racism.

          • You are the one delluded. I do have a problem with the accents — though not with the fact that they speak English, because many families were taugh in English back at that time. Also, when you’re doing a film/play/whateverto an audience, you speak to that audience — ala Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (but the Swedish version was much better). You don’t get to call me racist withouth knowing me.

    • Brooke says:

      Only you.

      • I am, actually. Not by Audra or the casting, but historically, it makes me cring. They shouldve just done a modern version of it if they were going to change everything.

        • Amie says:

          Yeah, because all those Austrian and German characters speaking and singing in English is so historically accurate. And imagine that many nuns with beautiful voices in one place! How historically inaccurate to suggest that the nearby nuns were better singers than Maria & Co! And what about Max and Elsa? They were singing, too! How inaccurate is that?? I would “cring” at this bogus need for historical accuracy if that was really a word. Meanwhile, a musical like The Sound of Music requires suspension of disbelief from the get-go BECAUSE IT IS A MUSICAL. Note to Barbie: Gangs in the 1950s were unlikely to actually sing and dance to advertise their rumbles around the streets of Hell’s Kitchen. And there is no town in Scotland that disappears for 100 years. Cowboys and farmers were unlikely to dance around in Oklahoma in 1906 singing about their need to be friends, while cowboys and farmers in Oregon were unlikely to do ballet moves while building a barn. King Arthur probably didn’t exist, and if he did, he was way before the period shown in Camelot, but that’s okay, because the people in Medieval England wouldn’t have sung that sort of music, and the king and queen were unlikely to have used song, with an orchestra to guide them, to express their innermost desires, anyway. Oh, and Annie Oakley never sang as part of her career and the real Anna Leonowens — who would never have danced with the King of Siam or had a romance with him — wasn’t pretty at all. But then, neither was the real Maria von Trapp. Oh, those crazy musicals…

          • Ryan says:

            *slow clap, all the points for you*

            In all seriousness, color-Blind casting is pretty much how all musicals, TV or stage, are done anymore. I saw Les Mis not too long ago and young eponine was black, while adult eponine was Asian. If it really does bother you that badly, avoid musicals.

    • Aeol says:

      Nah, just you and your lack of imagination.

    • Suddenly says:

      They didn’t burst out in song every ten minutes or so to convey character or emotion in 1930s Austria either but I don’t hear you bitching about that. The point is the amazing performace and not the color of anyone’s skin and that you even bring it up speaks volumes about you.

      • Obviously, you’ve missed my entire point. Or you haven’t studied history enough.

        Yes, the performance was amazing. Just historically innacurate. The fact that is a musical justifies bursting out into song. There wasn’t a justification for her character being black. I’m sorry, but when you’re that heavy into context, a justification is needed. It’s like a said, you wouldn’t cast white women to play Nigerian women in a story about trafficking women in Africa. Why would you cast a black one to play a part in a play about 1930s Austria?

        The only thing it says about me is that I really care about historical accuracy. I don’t care about anyone’s color. I really don’t. But when you’re telling a contesxtualized story, it does matter. And if you can’t tell that, you need to study more.

        • Brooke says:

          So why haven’t you responded to Annie’s excellent post above?

          • Brooke says:

            Sorry, Amie, not Annie.

          • Because it’s not excelent — she’s using singing as a historical innacuracy, which is ridiculous, because it has nothing to do with HISTORY. If it’sa musical, there’s creative liberty to make people SING. On the other hand, you can’t actually change REAL LIFE HISTORY, you know. Like the kind of people who lived in a certain place.

            Also, I’m sick of you people not getting a point and accusing me of being racist without knowing a single thing about me, my family, and especially the color of my skin. I’m Latin American. I’m not causcasian or white. So, whatever. I’m just done with people who don’t get it.

        • Ally_D says:

          Barbie, I am responding to this post because I don’t seem to be able to respond to the one where you state that you are sick of people calling you racist. Just because you are Latina does not mean that you are incapable of exhibiting racism. Your objections to Audra McDonald in The Sound of Music are demonstrably racist because they are based on her ethnicity.
          Out of curiosity, do you have a problem with the casting of the movie of West Side Story? You know, where Puerto Rican Maria was played by a Russian (Natalie Wood) and Puerto Rican Bernardo was played by a Greek-American (George Chakiris)?

          • I’ve never watched West Side story, but, yes, I would have problem with that. Like I said before, if a movie was set in Nigeria, it couldn’t be full of white actresses. If a movie was set here in Brazil and thy put all blondes with blue eyes, we’d all be wondering where did these girls came from — they don’t reflect who we are. If a movie is set in Japan, the actresses should be Japanese — unless, of course, there’s an specific context. That’s what I’m saying — there’s NO REASON to cast a black person in 1930s Austria, because that wasn’t something that was back then. That’s all. I was talking to my mom about it, and she talked about a black character in Robin Hood in the times of the Cruzades, whose presence was explained. Hey, that works.

            Honey, Private Practice was one of my favorite shows ever and I adored Audra as Naomi, as well as Taye Diggs as Sam. They were amazing characters , perfectly cast for that role. But for a 1930s nun in Austria? Yeah, she doesn’t work. It’s HISTORY.

          • Brooke says:

            Barbie, Audra gave a lovely performance and people are celebrating her wonderful talent. Your racial issues are playing Debbie Downer over such positivity. It doesn’t matter if you claim to be non-white yourself (we can internalize prejudices – you seriously going to tell me no women can be sexist, for example?). You have issues with something that is a non-issue to everyone who found the joy in Audra’s voice. People who get uncomfortable with racial issues often state we should just cast the best person for the role. Obviously the production did so in Audra’s case!

    • Tom Laws says:

      Those with their fingers on the re-programing of America figured they could pull it off without anyone calling them on their B.S. If they were simply trying to be all inclusive, why not have a few black storm troopers as well? LOL

  12. Drew says:

    While I agree that Audra was great in the show, I don’t know that I would say that she was the most outstanding performer on it. Yes, her role was elevated… but mostly because the important role of the character was kept in this version while the movie cut it out. She did an amazing job with it… but it wasn’t really significant enough for me to say that she was the most outstanding.

    While there were a number of great performers in the show and I’m sure I’ll be flamed for saying this, I’m going to say that it was Carrie. The girl ran up stairs, down stairs, up hills, down hills and jumped on beds, all without missing a note. In an age where people make excuses for Beyonce’s lip syncing because she has to prance around the stage at the same time, I think Carrie’s ability to pull off those numbers with that amount of activity was impressive.
    I’ll grant that she should have taken the dialog and maybe loosened up was on the page a little bit, but her delivery wasn’t as bad as some I’ve seen. She didn’t forget her lines. She didn’t step on anyone’s dress. She did manage to convey real emotion. I think that the most common remark I’ve seen against her is that she wasn’t Julie Andrews… but then Julie Andrews wasn’t Mary Martin, who the role was written for.

    I didn’t think that Carrie Underwood was a great choice for the role when I heard about it. But I will give the girl her due and say that for someone who has no acting experience to pull off that role without messing it up was impressive. Yes, stage actors do it all the time… but they also mess up all the time. Especially in early shows. How often are those actors perfectly polished in the first preview?

    Audra was great, but this was nothing for her. It was a relatively small role, and a couple of songs. Why not save this title for when she really shows us what she can do?

    • Aeol says:

      The person who tries the hardest isn’t always deserving of the MVP. What this article does a great job of pointing out is that it’s not always the most high-profile role that stands out, but the most memorable performance. Carrie Underwood was serviceable IMO, but I’ve pretty much already forgotten about her performance while I can’t stop thinking about McDonald, Laura Benanti and Christian Borle in their roles. I’ve been lucky enough to see all three of them perform live on Broadway, and while they’ve grown more recognized in the public eye due to TV roles, this production showed them off in their strongest, most natural habitat and I think it’s a great thing. If Carrie Underwood never acted again and just stuck to singing I would be okay with that, and I’m just personally more enthused that McDonald, Benanti and Borle had an opportunity to show their true range.

      • Drew says:

        I agree that those who try hardest don’t always deserve MVP. But I listed all of the reasons why I did think that Underwood deserved it more. She pulled it off, in my opinion. And it was an impressive victory. I do think that the others delivered great performances, but I don’t think that they stood out the most or that Carrie’s role can easily be dismissed. Honestly, when I think of Christian Borle’s role in the show, I think about the mistakes that he made (the obvious one where he steps on a dress and another which I’ve been trying to find a script of the show to see whether it was a mistake or not, toward the end).
        I’m not saying that Carrie deserves the title of performer of the week because she tried really hard. I’m saying that there were many times during the show when I was genuinely impressed by her, and while Audra gave a good performance, I wasn’t blown away by it.

        You can say that some of the actors were better actors than Underwood. I don’t think she was horrible, but it’s fair enough to say. But I don’t think it can be said that anyone out-sang her. And some of what she did while singing was outstanding… try dropping onto a bed while yodeling and see if you can do it without missing a note. This article is called “Performer of the week”, not “actor”. Carrie performed the he!! out of that show.

    • Amie says:

      “She didn’t forget her lines. She didn’t step on anyone’s dress.” Ah, the mark of a real actress there.

      • Drew says:

        You missed everything else I said, like the fact that she managed to convey real emotion, which is the most important part of being an actress.

        Every one wants to say that she was either horrible in the role or she was great. Her acting wasn’t horrible. It wasn’t the best performance I’ve ever seen but it was also nowhere near the worst. She didn’t fail at it. And when it comes to the musical numbers she blew everyone else out of the water. Yup, I said it.

        I will happily get the dvd and watch it again, just like I grew up enjoying Mary Martin in the “Peter Pan” special that they did (I got the 30th anniversary edition on tape)

  13. MattH. says:

    Audra was wonderful and fully worthy of commendation here, but the part has hardly been one that’s overlooked. The original Mother Abbess Patricia Neway won the Best Featured Actress Tony for her performance in the original stage version, and Peggy Wood was Oscar-nominated for her acting performance (even with a dubbed voice) in the film.

  14. Raquel says:

    Definetily Josh Charles, he’s performance on the 100th episode was breathtaking and amazing, you could feel Will’s pain and anger.Not counting the love that was once there becoming a thirst for revenge after the betrayal. No doubt about it, way to go Josh!!!

  15. Rjrtist says:

    A great performance by Audra. Her voice is a Living National Treasure.

  16. cg says:

    Can someone please explain how they had black nuns in Austria in the 1930s

  17. KCC says:

    Yay Audra McDonald! Hopefully she finds a new tv series soon

  18. Vinicius says:

    When Audra and Carrie first started singin’ together in “My Favorite Things” I was like “poor Carrie, will be dragged by Audra”. The woman is incredible and really smashed it on The Sound Of Music Live. I hope if NBC does more live musicals like this they invest in casting people like Audra, incredible skilled performers that know what they are doing with this kind of material. Carrie was ok, the singin’ was there (almost everytime) but the emotion and the rest was just so out the door.

  19. Sam says:

    Jason Thompson was incredible this past week. Every soap actor can make tears, but he has an astounding ability to make you see every emotion as his character experiences them, whether it be joy, anger, sadness, pain, confusion, etc. I am positive we will see his name on the Emmy ballot again next year.

  20. Kelly says:

    I thought Kimberly McCullough and Brooklyn Rae Silzer stole the show on General Hospital. Patrick&JT paled in comparison and the over the top wailing of the fiancé was just awful.

    I was impressed by Carrie Underwood. I found she made Maria very likeable and very motherly. I enjoyed her performance and applaud her even more for being so brave in taking the role.

  21. Mary says:

    Emma clearly inherited her acting ability from her father…

  22. Jason says:

    I tear up every single time I hear Audra sing Climb Every Mountain. Heck, I tear up when the nun sings it in the movie. But this rendition just leaves you speechless.

  23. Jan says:

    Audra not only killed in “Sound,” she was also the best thing about the Rockefeller Center tree lighting special!

  24. NatesMama says:

    I’m sorry, did he miss Bones this week? Emily Deschanel and guest star Richard Schiff blew everyone else out of the water this week and they didn’t even rate an honorable mention? What?!?

  25. James Ball says:

    I’m sure the posters defending the casting of MS McDonald would not have a problem with a white man portraying DR Martin Luther King in a musical biography of his life.

  26. Randy Bibb says:

    Peter Pan is usually played by a woman. Sarah Bernhardt played a 13-year old Juliet at the tender age of 70! Yul Brynner – a Russian – played the King of Siam… over 4600 times and won an Oscar and TWO Tony awards for that one role. Larry Blyden – a white Texan – played Sammy Fong in Flower Drum Song. In fact, Myrna Loy, Warner Oland, Peter Lorrie, Gale Sondergaard (to name a scant few) ALL played Asians. Eva Gardner (and Helen Morgan too, for that matter) played a black woman in Showboat. Barbra Streisand – a Jewish goil – played an Irish matchmaker. (Dolly Levi – born Gallagher.) Queen Latifah played a black prison matron in a desegregated (???) 1920’s era women’s prison and absolutely redefined that role, turning Mama Morton from a Sophie Tucker into a Bessie Smith. All that aside, let’s look at history and get it right…

    There WERE Africans living in Austria, Germany and all throughout Europe. Who is ANYONE in this thread to say there was not? They were not a prevalent presence, c’est vrai, but they absolutely did live there. There were interracial marriages resulting in Afro-European Mulattoes. During the Holocaust many Afro-Europeans were used for medical experiments, forcibly sterilized and/or murdered. When Jesse Owens (and 17 other black athletes) competed in the 1936 Olympics in Berlin, Hitler made a big show for the propaganda cameras. But he wasn’t the one who gave black athletes the go ahead – The International Olympic Committee was and Hitler had no say in it if he wanted the games in Berlin. Many African-Americans went to Europe to escape American racism. (Josephine Baker being the most famous.) The casting of Audra McDonald was particularly poignant when you consider that Afro-Europeans were also targeted by the Nazi regime so an African Mother Abbess was putting herself at an extreme risk to aid the Trapps.

    Let’s not judge history by modern sensitivities. As was stated repeatedly in the above posts “You weren’t there” so, unless one has irrefutable evidence to the contrary, one is unqualified to state the impossibility of the presence of black nuns in 1930’s Austria and therefore one should shut up.

    • Skit says:

      Thank you, Randy!! I was hoping someone with a broader range of historical knowledge would speak up.

      One good thing about this sad and unnecessary controversy… got me to take the time to learn about nuns of African descent who lived and worked in Europe. (eg, Sister Josephine Bakhita, who professed vows in 1896, died in 1947, and was officially canonized by the Catholic Church for her good works in 2000).

      Not that it should matter, as so many other posters have already noted, there’s a large dose of hypocrisy in pinpointing Audra’s casting while being seemingly unbothered, or at least less bothered, by the wide range of differences between some of the other actors and the real life people they portrayed.

      Let’s encourage each other to use our imaginations in ways that allow us to be open to experiencing great art, in this case a particularly masterful and moving performance. Let’s also encourage each other to expand beyond our own sometimes limited frames of reference, so we don’t get indignant about “historical inaccuracies” when we haven’t taken sufficient time to really study “the history.” We all have a lot to learn.