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Broadway star to visit Saint Mary’s

Jillian Barwick | Thursday, January 24, 2013

With five Tony Awards, two Grammy awards and many other accomplishments on her resume, Audra McDonald, star of ABC’s “Private Practice” and Bess in “George Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess” on Broadway, is this year’s Margaret Hill Endowed Visiting Artist for 2013 and will visit Saint Mary’s on Monday.

“She has got something good for Saint Mary’s,” Katie Sullivan, associate professor of theatre, said. “She shows diversity in the world of which she works as performer. She will show students that they can do more than just hope to be successful in one area.”

At only 42 years old, McDonald is the youngest actor and the only African-American to win five Tony Awards. McDonald attended Julliard School for classical vocal training and graduated in 1993.

“The balance is found in that my goal is just to continue to evolve as an artist,” McDonald said. “So anything I do whether it be in recording, theater, or television the goal is the same: to be challenged and to grow as an artist,” McDonald said in an email interview.

McDonald will be conducting a master’s class at the College on Monday morning.

“I have conducted master classes in the past,” McDonald said. “I have also participated in [master’s] classes so I know how scary they are for the participants.

“My main goal is to make the student as comfortable as possible and in a sense make every one else in the room ‘disappear’ so that it is just the two of us exploring the material. I think these one-shot evaluations have value because any chance to perform for a live audience is a lesson within itself.”

Sullivan said she knows that McDonald’s master class will be something for the students to remember as they continue on in their careers.

“She is so inspiring to students and very relatable. She has a family; she’s a working mother with a life,” Sullivan said. “She is covering all areas well. She’s just like us; trying to do the art that she’s trained for. She seems to really enjoy working with young people.”

McDonald is well known for playing Naomi on “Private Practice.” She was on the show for four years before taking time away to focus on her family. For the Tuesday’s series finale, however, McDonald rejoined the cast for the last time.

Contact Jillian Barwick at [email protected]