Audra McDonald: Wikis


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Audra McDonald
Born Audra Ann McDonald
July 3, 1970 (1970-07-03) (age 39)
Berlin, Germany
Occupation actress, singer
Spouse(s) Peter Donovan (2000–2009)

Audra Ann McDonald (born July 3, 1970) is an actress and singer. She currently stars in the ABC television drama Private Practice as Dr. Naomi Bennett.[1] She has appeared on the stage in both musicals and dramas, such as Ragtime (musical) and A Raisin in the Sun. She maintains an active concert and recording career, performing song cycles and operas as well as performing in concert throughout the US. She has won the Tony Award four times and Grammy Award twice.


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.[2] 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."[3] She studied classical voice as an undergraduate under Ellen Faull at the Juilliard School,[4] graduating in 1993.



McDonald became a three-time Tony Award winner by the age of 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.[5]

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.[6] 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.[7]


Throughout her career, McDonald has maintained ties to her classical training and repertoire. She frequently performs in concert throughout the US[8] and has performed with musical institutions 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.[9] 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).[10] 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.[11] 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.[12]

In September 2008, American musical theatre composer Michael John LaChiusa was quoted in Opera News Online, as working on an adaptation of Bizet's opera Carmen with McDonald in mind.[13]

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.[14] 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 Miss Farrell.[15] 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.[16]

McDonald appears as Naomi Bennett, ex-wife of Sam, portrayed by Taye Diggs, in the television drama Private Practice, a spinoff of Grey's Anatomy. She replaced Merrin Dungey, who played the role in the series pilot.[17]

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).[15]


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 Michael John 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.[4] Her next album Happy Songs (2002) was big band music from the '20s, '30s and '40s.[18] Her fourth album, Build a Bridge (2006), features songs from the jazz/pop canon, from composers as diverse as Adam Guettel (who wrote the title song), Laura Nyro, Elvis Costello, Nellie McKay, Neil Young, Rufus Wainwright, John Mayer and Randy Newman.[19]


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.[20]

Personal life

McDonald married bassist Peter Donovan in September 2000.[4] They have one daughter, Zoe Madeline, who was born on February 14, 2001 and was named after McDonald's Master Class co-star and good friend Zoe Caldwell. Her middle name is another tribute, to Madeline Kahn. McDonald and Donovan divorced in 2009.[21] She is currently dating her former 110 in the Shade costar Will Swenson.[22]



Solo Recordings


  • Way Back to Paradise (NONESUCH, 1998)[24]
  • How Glory Goes (2000)
  • Happy Songs (2002)
  • Build a Bridge (2006)

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)
  • Guest Artist, The Mormon Tabernacle Choir's Christmas with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir (2004) [26]
  • Barbara Cook at the Met ("When Did I Fall In Love?" and "Blue Skies") (2006)
  • Jule Styne in Hollywood ("10,432 Sheep") (2006)[27]
  • Guest Artist, The Mormon Tabernacle Choir's The Wonder of Christmas ("Sweet Little Jesus Boy", "Children Go Where I Send Thee") (2006) [28]
  • 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

Audio books


Feature films

Year Film Role Notes
1996 Seven Servants
1998 The Object of My Affection Wedding Singer
2003 It Runs in the Family (2003 film) Sarah Langley


Year Title Role Notes
1999 Annie Grace Farrell
2000 Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Audrey Jackson Episodes: "Contact", "Slaves"
2001 Wit Susie Monahan Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actress
2007-present Private Practice Dr. Naomi Bennett
2008 A Raisin In The Sun Ruth Younger Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actress
2009 Grey's Anatomy Dr. Naomi Bennett Episode: Before and After



Year Show Role Awards and nominations
1994 Carousel Carrie Pipperidge Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Musical; Drama Desk Award Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Musical
1996 Master Class Sharon/Sharon Graham Tony Award Best Featured Actress in a Play
1998 Ragtime Sarah Tony Award Best Featured Actress in a Musical
1999 Marie Christine Marie Christine Tony Award Best Leading Actress in a Musical (nominee); Drama Desk Award Outstanding Actress in a Musical (nominee)
2004 A Raisin in the Sun Ruth Younger Tony Award Best Featured Actress in a Play; Drama Desk Award Outstanding Featured Actress in a Play
2007 110 in the Shade Lizzie Curry Tony Award Best Actress in a Musical (nominee); Drama Desk Award Outstanding Actress in a Musical (winner)

Off Broadway

From June 25, 2009 through July 12, 2009, McDonald starred as Olivia in Shakespeare's Twelfth Night at The Public Theatre Shakespeare In The Park. Also starring was Anne Hathaway as Viola.[36]

Awards and nominations




  1. ^ "'Practice' is perfect for McDonald". The Hollywood Reporter. 2007. Retrieved 2008-05-21.  
  2. ^ "Audra - Living Her Dream". The Fresno Bee. 15 January 1989. Retrieved 2008-05-21.  
  3. ^ "Audra McDonald's a tough act to follow in "Evita"". The Fresno Bee. 5 December 2007. Retrieved 2009-02-09.  
  4. ^ a b c Green, Blake."Never Short of Breath", (originally in the San Francisco Chronicle), July 16, 2000
  5. ^ Gans, Andrew.Chenoweth, Dench, Linney, McDonald, Rashad Nominated for Emmy Awards",, July 17, 2008
  6. ^ Gans, Andrew."Utopia and Spring Awakening Win Top Honors at Drama Desk Awards",, May 21, 2007
  7. ^ Jones, Kenneth."Stanley McDonald Jr., Father of Tony-Winner Audra McDonald, Dies in Air Crash",, April 30, 2007
  8. ^ Gans, Andrew."Audra McDonald to Offer Concerts Throughout U.S.",, April 8, 2008
  9. ^ Gans, Andrew."Audra McDonald Premieres The Seven Deadly Sins June 2 at Zankel Hall",, June 2, 2004
  10. ^ Gans, Andrew."Audra McDonald to Debut New LaChiusa Piece at Houston Grand Opera",, July 26, 2005
  11. ^ Simonson, Robert, and Gans, Andrew."Doyle to Direct LuPone and McDonald in Mahagonny",, January 16, 2006
  12. ^ Gans, Andrew."In the Heights Cast Recording Wins Grammy; Hudson and LuPone-McDonald "Mahagonny" Also Win",, February 8, 2009
  13. ^ Portantiere, Michael (September 2008, vol 73, no. 3). "Over the Borderline". Opera News Online. Retrieved 2008-09-02.  
  14. ^ Jones, Kenneth."Emmy Noms Go to 'Wit,' 'South Pacific,' 'Laughter on the 23rd Floor' and More",July 12, 2001
  15. ^ a b Audra McDonald credits at the Internet Movie, accessed August 15, 2009
  16. ^ Gans, Andrew."PBS to Broadcast Audra McDonald's New Year's Eve Concert",, November 29, 2006
  17. ^ Buckley, Michael."Stage To Screens: Audra McDonald, Kenneth Branagh, Craig Wright, Jill Clayburgh",, September 24, 2007
  18. ^ Simonson, Robert."Audra McDonald Sings Composers of Today and Future at Joe's Pub",, May 22, 2002
  19. ^ Suskin, Steven."On The Record: A Complete Cabaret With Judi Dench, and Audra McDonald's "Build a Bridge",November 12, 2006
  20. ^ Moon, Josh."Alabama wins 13th national championship", January 8, 2010
  21. ^ "McDonald Sets Record Straight". BroadwayWorld News Desk. June 3, 2009.  
  22. ^ [1]
  23. ^ McDonald record, retrieved January 8, 2010
  24. ^ Way Back to Paradise, retrieved January 8, 2010
  25. ^ McDonald, retrieved January 8, 2010
  26. ^ "Christmas with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square: Featuring Audra McDonald and Peter Graves", retrieved January 8, 2010
  27. ^ Jule Styne in Hollywood listing], retrieved January 8, 2010
  28. ^ The Wonder of, retrieved January 8, 2010
  29. ^ "I Was Looking at the Ceiling and Then I Saw the Sky",, accessed August 15, 2009
  30. ^ Suskin, Steven."ON THE RECORD: Dazzling Dreamgirls and 1943 Show Tunes",, March 10, 2002
  31. ^ Hetrick, Adam and Gans, Andrew."Complete Allegro Recording, with McDonald, Gunn and Wilson, to Arrive In Stores Feb. 3",, December 8, 2008
  32. ^ By The Light of My Father's Smile audio, accessed August 15, 2009
  33. ^ A Long Way from Homeaudio, accessed August 15, 2009
  34. ^ Getting There from Here: Selected Shorts: A Celebration of the Short, accessed August 15, 2009
  35. ^ McDonald Broadway, retrieved January 8, 2010
  36. ^ Hetrick, Adam.Public Theater's Starry Twelfth Night Ends Central Park Run July 12",, July 12, 2009
  37. ^ Awards and nominations,, retrieved January 8, 2010
  38. ^ Awards and nominations,, retrieved January 8, 2010
  39. ^ Gans, Andrew."In the Heights Cast Recording Wins Grammy; Hudson and LuPone-McDonald "Mahagonny" Also Win", February 8, 2009
  40. ^ BWW News Desk.Anika Noni Rose, Audra McDonald, Denzel Washington et al. Receive NAACP Image Award Noms.", January 6, 2010

External links


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