The woman who uses “equality” as part of her twitter handle will have to come to grips with being a cut above the rest, once again, during next Black History Month. The Roundabout Theatre Company’s Spring Gala 2016: Celebrating 50 Years of Extraordinary Theatre will also celebrate the extraordinarily talented Audra McDonald by giving her The Jason Robards Award for Excellence in Theatre. The theatre community would be hard-pressed to find a more deserving candidate than Ms. McDonald, who has Tony awards for her repeated star-making turns in Carousel, Master Class, Ragtime, A Raisin in the Sun, The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess, Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill.
Tony nominated for Roundabout’s production of 110 in the Shade, McDonald is surely someone who has “made an indelible impact on both Roundabout and the theatre world.” Should one doubt Ms. McDonald’s importance to dramatic and musical theatre, television, film, the Black community and her advocacy of equality for the LGBTQ community is to not understand why she was voted one of Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People this year. The Time Magazine honor is notable because rarely is it bestowed upon theatre artists or women, let alone a Black woman theatre artist.
Yet, we all know McDonald is beyond an ordinary Black woman theatre artist. She may be THE Black woman theatre artist; celebrated and embraced by audiences and critics, and affirmed by a record-breaking six Tony Award wins. Broadway Beyonce, Ms. McDonald’s performances are flawless. We all need to bow down!
Shondaland fans will recognize McDonald from “Private Practice” and her role as “Dr. Naomi Bennett”. Ms. McDonald challenges racial paradigms with no soap-box after-taste by virtue of her ability to move us with or without music. She dazzled as “Grace Farrell” in an updated TV version of the musical Annie, in which the little orphan sang about a tomorrow that included all of us.
McDonald delivered live on national TV as “Mother Abbess” in the NBC production of the “Sound of Music”, and this month Ms. McDonald will square off against Meryl Streep in the film, “Ricki and the Flash” as stepmother to Ricki’s (Ms. Streep) children and wife to Ricki’s ex-husband, played by Kevin Kline. The 50th Anniversary Season Gala will be held on February 29, 2016 at 7pm in the Waldorf Astoria Grand Ballroom. McDonald’s talent is so big, an extra day is needed to truly recognize it! There will be a lucky start to Ms. McDonald’s Leap Year. The event will include an auction and a star-studded fete of Roundabout’s musicals. Lane Hosmer can be contacted at 212-719-9393 x312 to secure a table or tickets and more information can be found at roundabouttheatre.org/gala.