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Audra McDonald


Audra McDonald Biography

Audra Ann McDonald (born July 3, 1970) is an American actress and singer. She has appeared on the stage in both musicals and dramas, such as Ragtime, A Raisin in the Sun, and Porgy and Bess. She maintains an active concert and recording career, performing song cycles and operas as well as performing in concert throughout the U.S. She has won five Tony Awards, sharing the record for most Tonys won by an actor with Julie Harris and Angela Lansbury. She also starred in the ABC television drama Private Practice as Dr. Naomi Bennett.

Early life

Born in Berlin, Germany and raised in Fresno, California, the elder of two daughters, she began to study acting at a young age to counteract her diagnosis as "hyperactive". McDonald graduated from the Roosevelt School of the Arts program within Theodore Roosevelt High School in Fresno. She got her start in acting with Dan Pessano and Good Company Players, beginning in their Junior Company. "I knew I wanted to be involved in theater when I had my first chance to perform with the Good Company Players Junior Company." "The people who have had the most impact on my life: Good Company director Dan Pessano and my mother." She studied classical voice as an undergraduate under Ellen Faull at the Juilliard School, graduating in 1993.

Career

Theatre

McDonald became a three-time Tony Award winner by age 28 "? for her performances in Carousel, Master Class, and Ragtime, placing her alongside Shirley Booth, Gwen Verdon and Zero Mostel by accomplishing this feat within five years. She was nominated for another Tony Award for her performance in Marie Christine before she won her fourth in 2004 for her role in A Raisin in the Sun, placing her in the company of other four-time winning actresses Gwen Verdon and Mary Martin. She reprised her Raisin role for a 2008 television adaptation, earning her a second Emmy Award nomination. On June 10, 2012, McDonald scored her fifth Tony Award win for her portrayal of Bess in Broadway's The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess, thus tying Angela Lansbury and Julie Harris.

McDonald appeared as Lizzie in the Roundabout Theatre Company's 2007 revival of 110 in the Shade, directed by Lonny Price at Studio 54, for which she shared the Drama Desk Award for Best Actress in a Musical with Donna Murphy. On April 29, 2007, while she was in previews for the show, her father was killed when an experimental aircraft he was flying crashed north of Sacramento, California.

McDonald appeared in a revised version of Porgy and Bess, at the Loeb Drama Center (in Cambridge, Massachusetts) from August through September 2011, and recreated the role on Broadway at the Richard Rodgers Theatre, which opened on January 12, 2012 and closed on September 23, 2012. For this role, McDonald won her fifth Tony Award and her first in a Leading Actress category. This American Repertory Theater production was "re-imagined by Suzan-Lori Parks and Diedre Murray as a musical for contemporary audiences."

Recordings and concerts

McDonald has maintained ties to her classical training and repertoire. She frequently performs in concert throughout the U.S. and has performed with musical organizations such as the New York Philharmonic and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. Carnegie Hall commissioned the song cycle The Seven Deadly Sins: A Song Cycle for McDonald, and she performed it at Carnegie's Zankel Hall on June 2, 2004. She sang two solo one-act operas at the Houston Grand Opera in March 2006- Francis Poulenc's La Voix Humaine and the world premiere of Michael John LaChiusa's Send (who are you? I love you). On February 10, 2007, McDonald starred with Patti LuPone in the Los Angeles Opera production of Kurt Weill's opera Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny directed by John Doyle. The recording of the Los Angeles Opera production of Kurt Weill's opera Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny, featuring McDonald and Patti LuPone, won two Grammy Awards, for Best Opera Recording and Best Classical Album in February 2009.

In September 2008, American composer Michael John LaChiusa was quoted in Opera News Online, as working on an adaptation of Bizet's Carmen with McDonald in mind.

McDonald has recorded four solo albums for Nonesuch Records. Her first, the 1998 Way Back to Paradise, featured songs written by a new generation of musical theatre composers who had achieved varying degrees of prominence in the 1990s, particularly LaChiusa, Adam Guettel and Jason Robert Brown. Her next album, How Glory Goes (2000) combined both old and new works, and included composers Harold Arlen, Leonard Bernstein and Jerome Kern. Her next album Happy Songs (2002) was big band music from the 1920s through the 40s. Her fourth album, Build a Bridge (2006), features songs from jazz and pop.

At the 2010 BCS National Championship Game on January 7, McDonald sang America the Beautiful for the sold-out stadium fans to celebrate the final game of the college football season.

Television and film

McDonald has also made many television appearances, both musical and dramatic. In 2001, she received her first Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or TV Movie for the HBO film Wit, starring Emma Thompson and directed by Mike Nichols. She also has appeared on Homicide: Life on the Street (1999), Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (2000), Having Our Say: The Delany Sisters' First 100 Years (1999), the short-lived Mister Sterling (2003), The Bedford Diaries (2006), and Kidnapped (2006"2007), and in the 1999 television remake of Annie as Daddy Warbucks' secretary & soon-to-be wife, Miss Farrell. She sang with the New York Philharmonic in the annual New Year's Eve gala concert on December 31, 2006, featuring music from the movies; it was televised on Live from Lincoln Center by PBS. She also appeared on the December 11th 2012 episode of The Colbert Report, singing Baby It's Cold Outside with host Stephen Colbert.

McDonald appeared as Naomi Bennett in Private Practice, a spinoff of Grey's Anatomy. She replaced Merrin Dungey, who played the role in the series pilot. McDonald left Private Practice at the end of season four. Shonda Rhimes, the creator of Private Practice, tweeted that Audra will appear as Naomi Bennett one final time in the series finale this spring.

In films, McDonald has appeared in Best Thief in the World (2004), It Runs in the Family (2003), Cradle Will Rock (1999), The Object of My Affection (1998), and Seven Servants by Daryush Shokof which was her film acting debut in (1996).

McDonald will play Mother Abbess in the NBC production of The Sound of Music Live!.

Personal life

McDonald married bassist Peter Donovan in September 2000. They have one daughter, Zoe, named after McDonald's close friend Zoe Caldwell. McDonald and Donovan divorced in 2009. She married Will Swenson on October 6, 2012.

Credits

Discography

Solo recordings

  • Way Back to Paradise (NONESUCH, 1998)
  • How Glory Goes (2000)
  • Happy Songs (2005)
  • Build a Bridge (2006)
  • Go Back Home (2013)

Featured Recordings

  • Dawn Upshaw Sings Rodgers & Hart (duet on "Why Can't I?") (1996)
  • Leonard Bernstein's New York ("A Little Bit in Love" and "Tonight" duet with Mandy Patinkin) (1996)
  • George and Ira Gershwin: Standards and Gems ("How Long Has This Been Going On?") (1998)
  • George Gershwin: The 100th Birthday Celebration (Porgy and Bess selections) (1998)
  • Cradle Will Rock ("Joe Worker") (1999)
  • Myths and Hymns ("Pegasus") (1999)
  • My Favorite Broadway: The Leading Ladies ("The Webber Love Trio") (1999)
  • Broadway In Love ("You Were Meant For Me" from The Object of My Affection) (2000)
  • Broadway Cares: Home for the Holidays ("White Christmas") (2001)
  • Bright Eyed Joy: The Songs Of Ricky Ian Gordon ("Daybreak in Alabama", etc.) (2001)
  • ZEITGEIST ("Think Twice") (2005)
  • The Wonder of Christmas with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir (2004)
  • Barbara Cook at the Met ("When Did I Fall In Love?" and "Blue Skies") (2006)
  • Jule Styne in Hollywood ("10,432 Sheep") (2006)
  • Guest Artist, The Mormon Tabernacle Choir's The Wonder of Christmas ("Sweet Little Jesus Boy", "Children Go Where I Send Thee") (2006)
  • New York Pops American River Suite (featured on "Prologue/Through The Mist/Half Moon") [Recording offered as a FREE download for a limited time on the official New York Pops website.]

Cast recordings

  • Carousel (1994 Broadway Revival Cast Recording) (1994)
  • Ragtime (Original Cast Recording) (1998)
  • I Was Looking at the Ceiling and Then I Saw the Sky- by John Adams (Studio Cast Recording) (1998)
  • Wonderful Town (Studio Recording) (1999)
  • Marie Christine (Original Cast Recording) (1999)
  • Annie (1999)
  • Sweeney Todd Live at the New York Philharmonic (2000)
  • Dreamgirls in Concert (2001 Concert Cast Recording) (released February 2002)
  • 110 in the Shade (2007 Broadway Revival Cast Recording) (2007)
  • Rodgers & Hammerstein's Allegro (First Complete Recording) (2009)
  • The Gershwin's Porgy and Bess (New Broadway Cast Recording) (2012)

Video recordings

  • Audra McDonald - Live at the Donmar London, VHS (1999)
  • My Favorite Broadway: The Leading Ladies("The Webber Love Trio"),DVD & CD (1999)
  • Bernstein - Wonderful Town with Kim Criswell, Thomas Hampson, Wayne Marshall, Simon Rattle, and Berlin Philharmonic, DVD (2005)
  • Christmas With the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square, DVD (2005)
  • Weill - Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny, DVD (2007)
  • Sondheim! The Birthday Concert, Blu-ray DVD (2010)

Audio books

  • Alice Walker, By The Light of My Father's Smile (1998)
  • Connie Briscoe, A Long Way From Home (1999)
  • Rita Dove, Second-Hand Man (2003)

Feature films

Year Film Role Notes
1996 Seven Servants
1998 The Object of My Affection Wedding Singer
1999 Cradle Will Rock Blitzstein - 'Joe Worker' Singer
2001 Wit Susie Monahan
2003 It Runs in the Family Sarah Langley
2004 The Best Thief in the World Ruth
2011 Rampart Sarah

Television



Year Title Role Notes
1999 Annie Miss Grace Farrell TV movie
Homicide: Life on the Street Teresa Giardello Episode: "Forgive Us Our Trespasses"
Having Our Say: The Delany Sisters' First 100 Years Bessie in her 20s TV movie
2000 Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Audrey Jackson Multiple Guest Arc
- "Contact"
- "Slaves"
The Last Debate Barbara Manning TV movie
2001 Wit Susie Monahan Nominated"?Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress - Miniseries or a Movie
2003 Mister Sterling Jackie Brock 9 episodes
Partners and Crime Unknown TV movie
Tea Time with Roy & Sylvia Sylvia Short
2005 Live from Lincoln Center Clara Episode: "Passion"
2006 The Bedford Diaries Professor Carla Bonatelle 8 episodes
2006"07 Kidnapped Jackie Hayes Multiple Guest Arc
- "Pilot"
- "Number One with a Bullet"
- "Front Page"
2007 Great Performances Jenny Smith Episode: "Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny"
2008 A Raisin in the Sun Ruth Younger Nominated"?NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actress in a Television Movie or Mini-Series
Nominated"?Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress - Miniseries or a Movie
2009 Grey's Anatomy Dr. Naomi Bennett Episode: "Before and After"
She Got Problems Herself Short
2007"2013 Private Practice Dr. Naomi Bennett 77 episodes
Nominated"?NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series (2008)
Nominated"?NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series (2009)
Nominated"?NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series (2010)
2013 The Good Wife Liz Lawrence Episode: "Runnin' with the Devil"

Theatre

Year Show Role Notes
1992 The Secret Garden Ayah (replacement) St. James Theatre
1992 " January 3, 1993
1994 Carousel Carrie Pipperidge Vivian Beaumont Theater
March 24, 1994 " January 15, 1995
1995 Something Wonderful Performer George Gershwin Theatre
July 12, 1995
1995 Master Class Sharon Graham John Golden Theatre
November 5, 1995 " June 29, 1997
1998 Ragtime Sarah Ford Center for the Performing Arts
January 18, 1998 " January 16, 2000
1999 Marie Christine Marie Christine L'Adrese Vivian Beaumont Theater
December 2, 1999 " January 9, 2000
2003 Henry IV Lady Percy Vivian Beaumont Theater
November 20, 2003 " January 18, 2004
2004 A Raisin in the Sun Ruth Younger Royale Theatre
April 26, 2004 " July 11, 2004
2007 110 in the Shade Lizzie Curry Studio 54
May 9, 2007 " July 29, 2007
2009 Twelfth Night Olivia Delacorte Theater
June 25, 2009 " July 12, 2009
2012 Porgy and Bess Bess Richard Rodgers Theatre
January 12, 2012 " September 23, 2012

Awards and nominations

Year Award Category Nominated Work Result
1994 Tony Award Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Musical Carousel
Drama Desk Award Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical
Theatre World Award
Outer Critics Circle Award Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical
1996 Tony Award Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Play Master Class
Ovation Award Best Featured Actress in a Play
1998 Tony Award Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Musical Ragtime
Drama League Award Distinguished Performance
Outer Critics Circle Award Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical
2000 Tony Award Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical Marie Christine
Drama Desk Award Outstanding Actress in a Musical
2001 NAACP Image Award Outstanding Variety - Series or Special Audra McDonald in Concert
2004 Tony Award Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Play A Raisin in the Sun
Drama Desk Award Outstanding Featured Actress in a Play
Drama League Award Distinguished Performance
Outer Critics Circle Award Outstanding Featured Actress in a Play
2005 Emmis Communications/Hot-97 "KISS-FM" Phenomenal Woman Award Phenomenal Woman
2007 Tony Award Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical 110 in the Shade
Drama Desk Award Outstanding Actress in a Musical
Drama League Award Distinguished Performance
Outer Critics Circle Award Outstanding Actress in a Musical
2012 Tony Award Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical Porgy and Bess
Drama Desk Award Outstanding Actress in a Musical
Drama League Award Distinguished Performance
Outer Critics Circle Award Outstanding Actress in a Musical
2013 Sara Siddons Society Award Distinguished Achievement in the Theatre



This webpage uses material from the Wikipedia article "Audra_McDonald" and is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. Reality TV World is not responsible for any errors or omissions the Wikipedia article may contain.
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