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Audra Ann McDonald is an American four-time Tony Award-winning actress and singer. She currently stars in the ABC television drama Private Practice as Dr. Naomi Bennett.
Born in Berlin, Germany and raised in Fresno, California, the elder of two daughters, she began to study acting at a young age. McDonald graduated from the Roosevelt School of the Arts program in Fresno. She studied classical voice as an undergraduate at the Juilliard School of Music and graduated in 1993.
By the age of 28, McDonald became a three-time Tony Award winner for her performances in Carousel, Master Class, and Ragtime, placing her alongside Shirley Booth, Gwen Verdon and Zero Mostel, accomplishing this feat within five years.
She was nominated for another Tony Award for her performance in Marie Christine before she won her fourth in 2004 for her role in A Raisin in the Sun, placing her in the company of other four-time winning actresses Angela Lansbury, Gwen Verdon and Mary Martin and reprised her Raisin role for a 2008 television adaptation.
Throughout her career McDonald has maintained ties to her classical training and collection. In 2005 The Seven Deadly Sins: A Song Cycle was commissioned for and performed by her at Carnegie's Zankel Hall. She sang two solo one-act operas at the Houston Grand Opera in 2006. In 2007, McDonald starred with Patti LuPone in the Los Angeles Opera production of Kurt Weill's opera Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny.
McDonald has also made several musical and dramatic television appearances. In 2001, she received an Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or TV Movie for the HBO film Wit starring Emma Thompson and directed by Mike Nichols.
She also has appeared on Homicide: Life on the Street, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, Having Our Say: The Delany Sisters' First 100 Years, the short-lived Mister Sterling, The Bedford Diaries, and Kidnapped, and in the 1999 television remake of Annie as Daddy Warbucks' secretary Miss Farrell. She sang in 2007 with the New York Philharmonic in a concert of music from the movies televised on Live from Lincoln Center.
On the big screen, McDonald has appeared in Best Thief in the World (2004), It Runs in the Family (2003), Cradle Will Rock (1999), The Object of My Affection (1998), and Seven Servants (1996).
McDonald has recorded four solo albums for Nonesuch Records. Her first, the 1998 Way Back to Paradise, featured songs written by a new generation of musical theatre composers who had achieved varying degrees of prominence in the 1990s, particularly Michael John LaChiusa, Adam Guettel and Jason Robert Brown. Her subsequent albums, How Glory Goes and Happy Songs, have featured more traditional theatre and cabaret songs.
Her fourth album, Build a Bridge, features songs from the jazz/pop canon, from composers as diverse as Laura Nyro, Elvis Costello, Nellie McKay, Neil Young, Rufus Wainwright, John Mayer and Randy Newman. She has performed with a number of the most prestigious orchestras world-wide.
McDonald married bassist Peter Donovan in 2000. They have one daughter, Zoe Madeline, who was born on February 14th 2001 and who was named after McDonald's Master Class co-star and good friend Zoe Caldwell.
She shared the Drama Desk Award for Best Actress in a Musical with Donna Murphy for her appearance as Lizzie in the Roundabout Theatre Company's 2007 revival of 110 in the Shade, directed by Lonny Price at Studio 54.
McDonald appears as Naomi Bennett, ex-wife of Sam, in Private Practice, a sequelof Grey's Anatomy. She replaced Merrin Dungey, who played the role in the series pilot.
In September 2008, American musical theatre composer Michael John LaChiusa was quoted in Opera News Online, as working on an adaptation of Bizet's opera Carmen with McDonald in mind.
Audra McDonald is a spectacular American artist who has made headlines, won awards and sold millions all at the same time. And if that isn't enough, this fantastic American is also a world famous actress who has starred in some of the best known American movies and TV series. Born back in 1970, this artist soon made a name for herself in both the world of music and the world of acting, winning not one but three Tony Awards at just twenty eight years old for parts she played in some of the most outstanding American productions. Today, she is well known in America as the actress playing the role of Dr. Naomi Bennett in the hit ABC drama, Private Practice. She has starred in theatrical productions; Ragtime and Carousel, both musicals as well as the drama, A Raising in the Sun.
This awesome classical artist has won the Grammy Award not once but twice. And if that weren't enough, she has also won a huge number of other awards and honors. She has bagged the Tony Awards four times, a 1994 Theatre World Award, a 1994 Outer Critics Circle Award, a 1995 Ovation Award, a 2004 Drama Desk Award, a 2004 Outer Critics Circle Award and a 2007 Drama Desk Award as well as nine different nominations. Aside from performing live musical concerts, this fabulous artist also performs live operas and has a lengthy discography. She is one of only four to have won three Tony Awards in five years and has to her name two Emmy Award nominations. From her classical music training, Audra McDonald became a fantastic artist touring all across America and performing alongside the likes of the New York Philharmonic, a feat that makes her someone to be seen and heard live, on stage, through Audra McDonald Tickets.
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