Audra McDonald, Tony & Grammy Award Winner, Visits Saint Mary’s College

Audra McDonald
Audra McDonald (photo by: Michael Wilson)
Gwen O’Brien
Director of Media Relations
Saint Mary's College
Notre Dame, Ind.
(574) 284-4579

December 11, 2012 (Notre Dame, Ind.)—The Saint Mary’s College Department of Communication Studies, Dance and Theatre will welcome Tony and Grammy Award-winning actress Audra McDonald to campus on Monday, January 28 as the 2012/2013 academic year’s Margaret Hill Endowed Visiting Artist.

McDonald, known for her starring role in the ABC television series Private Practice and musical performances in Ragtime, A Raisin in the Sun, and Porgy and Bess will conduct a master class with Saint Mary’s theatre students in the morning and hold a public lecture that evening. During her lecture titled "An Evening with Audra McDonald," she will discuss her career and her life as an artist in theatre, film, television, and the recording studio. Go to for information on the public lecture.

McDonald has earned acclaim and recognition for her performances on both screen and stage. She shares the record for most Tony Awards won with Julie Harris and Angela Lansbury. Born into a musical family, McDonald grew up in Fresno, California and received her classical vocal training at the Juilliard School in New York City.

One year after graduating, she won her first Tony Award for Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Musical for Carousel. She received two additional Tony Awards in the Featured Actress category over the next four years for her performances in the Broadway premieres of Terrence McNally’s play Master Class (1996) and his musical Ragtime (1998), earning her an unprecedented three Tony Awards before turning 30. In 2004, she won her fourth Tony starring with Sean “Diddy” Combs in A Raisin in the Sun. McDonald is coming off a nine-month run of the new revival of the beloved opera Porgy and Bess, winning her fifth Tony Award over the summer for her portrayal of Bess.

McDonald made her opera debut in 2006 at the Houston Grand Opera. The following year she made her debut in the Los Angeles Opera starring in the Fall of the City of Mahagonny. The resulting recording led to two Grammy Awards for McDonald for Best Opera Recording and Best Classical Album.

Along with McDonald’s impressive theatrical pursuits and accolades, McDonald’s many appearances on screen include film roles such as Seven Servants, The Object of My Affection, and will appear in the upcoming film Rampart. Her television roles include Annie, Law and Order: Special Victims Unit, and The Bedford Diaries. Many will know McDonald for her portrayal of Dr. Naomi Bennett on ABC’s hit television series Private Practice. She will be a part of the January 22 series finale. McDonald also appears on the CBS dramatic series The Good Wife this season as a former law school foe of actress Julianna Margulies’ character.

The Margaret Hill Endowed Visiting Artist Series is an annual event made possible by the generous gift from Hill, a Saint Mary’s College alumna and a Broadway producer. Recent artists to visit the College as part of the series include Sigourney Weaver (fall 2011), Lily Tomlin (fall 2010), and Glenn Close (spring 2010).

“This visiting artist series provides a unique and invaluable experience for our theatre students at Saint Mary's College. They are able to visit with, learn from, and be inspired by nationally and internationally, renowned theatre artists whose talents have entertained and moved us all,” remarks Katie Sullivan, associate professor of theatre at Saint Mary’s College.

“Our students get to be coached and instructed by these great artists on their own songs, scenes, or monologues. They get to hear advice and tips about how to make their way in the professional theatre world, and they have the opportunity to ask the artists various questions about their technique, particular roles or scripts or shows, how to balance career and personal life, and how to take the first steps after college” added Sullivan.

“An Evening with Audra McDonald” will be held Monday, January 28 at 7:30 p.m. in O’Laughlin Auditorium (MOVED TO GILLESPIE CENTER AT THE HILTON GARDEN INN ON THE EDGE OF CAMPUS). The event is free to Saint Mary’s College, University of Notre Dame and Holy Cross College students, faculty, and staff, but tickets are required. Admission is $10 for the general public, $5 for senior citizens.

About Saint Mary’s College: Saint Mary’s College, Notre Dame, Ind., is a four-year, Catholic, women’s institution offering five bachelor’s degrees and more than 30 major areas of study. Saint Mary’s College has six nationally accredited academic programs: social work, art, music, teacher education, chemistry and nursing. Saint Mary's College ranks among the top 100 “Best National Liberal Arts Colleges” for 2013 published by U.S. News. Founded in 1844, Saint Mary’s is a pioneer in the education of women, and is sponsored by the Sisters of the Holy Cross.