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Audra McDonald Says Gavin Creel Pushed Her To Take on GYPSY

McDonald will honor the late Chita Rivera during the Tonys broadcast.

By: Jun. 16, 2024
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Audra McDonald revealed on the Tony Awards red carpet that Gavin Creel pushed her to take on the role of Rose Hovick in Gypsy.

"It's certainly a role I've known for a long time, and I was one of Uncle Jocko's kiddies in Fresno, California at my community theater. One day Gavin Creel said to me, you need to play Rose, you need to do it, and that's what lit a fire.." said McDonald.

She also said "I'm so excited, it's been 7 years since I've done a musical and I'm getting a chance to work with George Wolfe again. It's like the King Lear of Musicals."

McDonald also took a moment to speak about her friend, the late Chita Rivera, who she will be honoring during the telecast with Brian Stokes Mitchell and Bebe Neuwirth. "Everybody will stand up here and say 'Chita was my friend', because she really was - an iconic Broadway legend [with a] generosity and warmth of spirit. I'm so honored to be a part of her tribute tonight."

This upcoming revival will be directed by the legendary five-time Tony Award-winning Director George C. Wolfe. GYPSY features a book by Tony Award Winner Arthur Laurents, music by Tony and Academy Award Winner Jule Styne, and lyrics by Tony, Grammy, Academy Award and Pulitzer Prize Winner Stephen Sondheim.

Performances will begin Thursday, November 21, 2024, at Broadway’s newly renovated Majestic Theatre and will open on Thursday, December 19, 2024. 

Audra McDonald is unparalleled in the breadth and versatility of her artistry as both a singer and an actor. The winner of a record-breaking six Tony Awards, two Grammy Awards and an Emmy, in 2015 she was named one of Time magazine’s 100 most influential people and received the National Medal of Arts—America’s highest honor for achievement in the field—from President Barack Obama.

In addition to her Tony-winning performances in Carousel, Master Class, Ragtime, A Raisin in the Sun, The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess and Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill—the role that also served as the vehicle for her Olivier Award-nominated 2017 debut in London’s West End—she has appeared on Broadway in The Secret Garden; Marie Christine (Tony nomination); Henry IV; 110 in the Shade (Tony nomination); Shuffle Along, or, The Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed; Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune (Tony nomination); and Ohio State Murders (Tony nomination). 

On television, she was seen by millions as the Mother Abbess in NBC’s “The Sound of Music Live!,” won an Emmy Award for her role as host of PBS’s “Live From Lincoln Center,” and received Emmy nominations for “Wit,” “A Raisin in the Sun” and “Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill.” Having played Dr. Naomi Bennett on Shonda Rhimes’s “Private Practice” (ABC) and Liz Reddick (formerly Lawrence) on both “The Good Wife” (CBS) and “The Good Fight” (Paramount+), she may now be seen as Dorothy Scott on Julian Fellowes’s “The Gilded Age” (HBO).

On film, she has appeared in Seven Servants, The Object of My Affection, Cradle Will Rock, It Runs in the Family, The Best Thief in the World, She Got Problems, Rampart, Ricki and the Flash, Disney’s live-action Beauty and the Beast, the movie-musical Hello Again, Cinergistik’s documentary Whitney Houston In Focus, the Obamas’ Higher Ground Productions’ Rustin and MGM’s Aretha Franklin biopic, Respect.  McDonald is a Juilliard-trained soprano, whose opera credits include La voix humaine and Send at Houston Grand Opera, and Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny at Los Angeles Opera, where the resulting recording earned her two Grammy Awards.

She has issued five solo albums on the Nonesuch label as well as “Sing Happy” with the New York Philharmonic on Decca Gold. She also maintains a major career as a concert artist, regularly appearing on the great stages of the world and with leading international orchestras. She is a founding member of Black Theatre United, board member of Covenant House International, and prominent advocate for LGBTQIA+ rights, whose favorite roles are those performed offstage, as an activist, wife to actor Will Swenson, and mother.