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Breaking New Audra McDonnell is Pregnant

Breaking New Audra McDonnell is Pregnant

Six-time Tony winner Audra McDonald, who today announced her pregnancy, will take temporary maternity leave from her starring role in Shuffle Along Or The Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed, beginning on July 24. She will return to the Tony Award-nominated musical this winter.  During Ms. McDonald’s hiatus from the production, the role of ‘Lottie Gee’ will be played by Grammy Award-winner Rhiannon Giddens, fresh off of ecstatic rave reviews for her solo album, Tomorrow Is My Turn.  During this same time period, Savion Glover, Shuffle Along’s Tony Award-nominated choreographer, and widely considered to be the world’s greatest living tap dancer, will also step into the show, as envisioned by the Director and Book writer, George C. Wolfe.

In a statement, Ms. McDonald said, “Who knew that tap dancing during perimenopause could lead to pregnancy? Will and I are completely surprised—and elated—to be expecting a new addition to our family. I am so very grateful to everyone in New York and London for allowing me to rearrange my schedule to accommodate this little miracle. While I’m disappointed I have to postpone my West End debut in Lady Day, I’m glad I’ll be able to spend a little more time in Shuffle Along this summer and will look forward to setting up a 1920s-themed nursery in my dressing room when I return to the show.”

Audra and her husband, actor Will Swenson, married in 2012, and that while this is their first child together, she is mother to a daughter, and he is father to two sons, from their previous marriages.

Rhiannon Giddens was a 2000 graduate of Oberlin Conservatory, where she studied opera. The North Carolina native is a founding member of the Grammy Award-winning African American folk band, Carolina Chocolate Drops. In September 2013, she stopped the show and brought the audience to its feet at the Another Day, Another Time concert, produced by T Bone Burnett and Joel and Ethan Coen at Town Hall. In 2014, Giddens recorded alongside Elvis Costello, Marcus Mumford, Taylor Goldsmith and Jim James forLost on the River: The New Basement Tapes, a compilation of previously unreleased songs written by Bob Dylan. In February 2015, she released her solo album, Tomorrow Is My Turn on Nonesuch Records, including songs written by Patsy Cline, Odetta, Dolly Parton and Nina Simone, among others.  Reviewing the album, the UK’s Sunday Times wrote: “Every now and then, an artist comes along whose voice transforms almost any kind of song.  Rhiannon Giddens can sing blues and Gaelic jigs, Nashville ballads and vintage jazz, Appalachian laments and sassy R & B.  She is a performer who thinks long and hard about how to approach material, yet manages to tap into the emotional core of everything she touches.” Shuffle Along will mark Ms. Giddens’ Broadway debut.

Winner of the New York Drama Critics Circle Award for Best Musical, Shuffle Along is now nominated for 10 Tony Awards including Best Musical. Presenting both the 1921 musical itself, and additionally details the events that catalyzed the songwriting team ofNoble Sissle and Eubie Blake, and librettists F.E. Miller and Aubrey Lyles to create this ground-breaking work. Shuffle Along has a new book by George C. Wolfe, is choreographed by Savion Glover, and is directed by Mr. Wolfe. Shuffle Along marks the first time that the writer/director and choreographer will have worked together since their 1996 hit Bring in ‘da Noise, Bring in ‘da Funk.  The production is playing at the Music Box Theatre (239 West 45th Street).

Shuffle Along stars six-time Tony Award-winner Audra McDonald, Tony Award-winners Brian Stokes Mitchell and Billy Porter, and Tony Award-nominees Brandon Victor Dixon and Joshua Henry, featuring Brooks Ashmanskas, Adrienne Warren, Amber Iman, Phillip Attmore, Alexandria Bradley, Darlesia Cearcy, Darius de Haas, C.K. Edwards, Leo Ash Evens, Afra Hines, Curtis Holland, Jason Holley, Adrienne Howard, Lee Howard, Kendrick Jones, Lisa LaTouche, Alicia Lundgren, JC Montgomery, Erin N. Moore, Janelle Neal, Brittany Parks, Arbender Robinson, Karissa Royster, Britton Smith, Zurin Villanueva, Christian Dante White, Joseph Wiggan, Pamela Yasutake, and Richard Riaz Yoder.

This is one of the best shows on Broadway!

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Suzanna, co-owns and publishes the newspaper Times Square Chronicles or T2C. At one point a working actress, she has performed in numerous productions in film, TV, cabaret, opera and theatre. She has performed at The New Orleans Jazz festival, The United Nations and Carnegie Hall. She has a screenplay and a TV show in the works, which she developed with her mentor and friend the late Arthur Herzog. She is a proud member of the Drama Desk and the Outer Critics Circle and was a nominator. Email: suzanna@t2conline.com

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