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!

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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!)

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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!