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NBC’s Sound of Music Live! was far from our favorite thing — reactions to the live broadcast have been mixed, to be kind — but there was one standout star who truly stole the show (and saved us from total boredom): Audra McDonald.

We knew Audra was going to be a fierce performer — the former Private Practice star is a Broadway veteran and a five-time Tony winner — but as Mother Abbess, the Prioress at the Abbey, Audra’s performance of “Climb Ev'ry Mountain” was a showstopper. We’re going to have to agree with Rosie O’Donnell on this one: “Audra McDonald makes everything better.”

In honor of Audra’s powerhouse performance, Wetpaint Entertainment brings you five things to know about the 43-year-old multi-talented actress and singer.

1. She was born in Berlin, Germany. Despite being born in Berlin, Audra was raised in Fresno, California, the eldest of two daughters. She began to study acting at a young age and graduated  from the Roosevelt School of the Arts program at Theodore Roosevelt High School in Fresno. She then went on to study classical voice at Juilliard, graduating in 1993.

2. She was a three-time Tony winner by the age of 28. Audra was a showstopper from a very young age, taking home three Tonys by the time she was only 28 for for her performances in Carousel, Master Class, and Ragtime. Fun fact: at her final Carousel audition, Audra fainted on stage while singing. She still got the part and went on to win her first Tony in 1994.

3. She now ties Angela Lansbury! Audra won her fifth Tony Award for her portrayal of Bess in Broadway's The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess, tying Angela Lansbury’s record.

4. She’s married to another Broadway star. Audra married her boyfriend of two years, Will Swenson, on October 6, 2012. It’s the second marriage for both Broadway star. Will is best known for playing  Berger in the Broadway revival of Hair. You can catch him next as Inspector Javert in the 2014 Broadway revival of Les Misérables, set to open in New York's Imperial Theatre.

5. She’s also an Grammy winner! Audra is a two-time Grammy winner. She took home her golden gramophones in 2008 for Best Classical Album and Best Opera Recording for the Los Angeles Opera’s production of Kurt Weill's opera Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny.

Watch Audra's outstanding performance of “Climb Ev'ry Mountain” below. 


Crystal Bell is an editor at Wetpaint Entertainment and our resident fangirl for all things The Vampire Diaries. Follow her on Twitter and Google+!