Photo Flash: Donna McKechnie Pays Tribute to Thommie Walsh in New Cabaret Show
Today, Friday, April 9, Tony-winner Donna McKechnie will premiere her new one-woman show, My Musical Comedy Life, at the Springside Inn in Auburn New York. McKechnie, who won a Tony for her performance as Cassie in A Chorus Line, will play the Inn through Saturday April 10. Richard Jay-Alexander will direct the shows with musical direction by Eugene Gwozdz. The series, its inaugral year, is being produced by Barbara Walsh (Thommie's sister), Baayork Lee (who starred in A CHORUS LINE with Thommie) and Merete Muenter.
The show, McKechnie explains in a recent interview with Joan Vadeboncoeur of syracuse.com, pays homage to her late friend and former Chorus Line star, Thommie Walsh (Bobby). Becoming more than friends during their run on Broadway, McKechnie and Walsh enjoyed a nearly three decade professional relationship. Walsh staged many of the acts in which McKechnie starred, including a Cole Porter musical at the Pasadena Playhouse and her one-woman show, Inside the Music - a potpourri of songs, dances and anecdotes about her life in the theater and her successful battle with arthritis.
Thommie Walsh died of lymphoma at age 57 in 2007. At the time of his death, he was preparing the musical adaptation of A Tale of Two Cities for Broadway. Of the inspiration Thommie Walsh provided to her throughout her career, McKechnie says: "There was never a time when Thommie didn't help me...No matter what he was doing, even if he just came and gave me notes, he would be there. I want to honor Thommie."
Walsh made his Broadway debut in the chorus of Seesaw in 1973, followed by Michael Bennett's A Chorus Line in 1976, originating the role of Bobby. Following his run, he decided to focus on choreography, musical staging, and direction, famously collaborating with Tommy Tune on The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas (1978) and Nine (1982). His additional credits include A Day in Hollywood/A Night in the Ukraine (1980), Do Black Patent Leather Shoes Really Reflect Up? (1982), My One and Only (1983), Marilyn: An American Fable (1983), and My Favorite Year (1992). He won Tony Awards for best choreography for My One and Only and A Day in Hollywood/A Night in Ukraine.
On Broadway, Donna McKechnie was starred State Fair, Company, A Chorus Line - for which she won the Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical, On the Town, Promises, Promises, The Education of H*Y*M*A*N K*A*P*L*A*N, and How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. She performed on the road with the touring company of Call Me Madam, starring Elaine Stritch and also toured in the 1971 revival of On the Town (as Ivy). In March 1973, she choreographed and performed in the highly acclaimed one-night-only concert Sondheim: A Musical Tribute at the Shubert Theatre in New York. Additional tours include Sweet Charity and Annie Get Your Gun, and she appeared in a London revival of Can-Can. Off-Broadway she appeared in a revue entitled Cut the Ribbons, followed by Annie Warbucks, a less successful sequel to the hit Annie. In 1997, she played Phyllis in a concert performance of Follies at London's Drury Lane Theatre, and the following year played Sally Paper Mill Playhouse's production. In recent years, she has toured periodically in her one-woman show Inside the Music.
Now in a new phase of her career, she now brings her latest act to New York. To purchase tickets or for more information, visit www.springsideinn.com.
Photo Credit: Rehearsal Photos - Jan LaSalle