The big surprise last week concerning Audra McDonald was that she did not receive a Tony nomination for her star turn in “Shuffle Along, or the Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed.” This week, Broadway’s record six-time Tony winner is the one delivering a surprise. She is pregnant.
McDonald, who married actor Will Swenson in 2012, had already shaken up the Broadway community by announcing that she would not be starring as ’20s diva Lottie Gee in the show for most of the summer. That mystery was solved when she revealed she would be in London reprising her Tony-winning portrayal of Billie Holiday in “Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill.”
But Tuesday, McDonald announced that she will postpone her London debut in order to facilitate the debut of a different kind of star. “Who knew that tap dancing during perimenopause could lead to pregnancy?” she said playfully in a statement, adding, “Will and I are completely surprised — and elated — to be expecting a new addition to our family.” She said she and her husband “look forward to setting up a 1920’s-themed nursery in my dressing room when I return to the show.”
Filling in from July 24 through the fall is Rhiannon Giddens, a founding member of the Grammy-winning band Carolina Chocolate Drops and the first American to be named Folk Singer of the Year by BBC Radio’s 2 Folk Awards.
In other major “Shuffle Along” news, Savion Glover, the show’s Tony-nominated choreographer and dazzling tapper, will perform in the musical during McDonald’s hiatus. “Shuffle Along” has 10 Tony nominations and was just named best musical by the New York Drama Critics Circle.
This is the first child for McDonald and Swenson, though she has a daughter and he has two sons from previous marriages.