Discusses her Broadway career and work with musical theater luminary Michael Bennett and others, with Broadway director John Doyle
Tony Award-winning dancer and singer Donna McKechnie, an original cast member of the musicals A Chorus Line, Company and Promises, Promises will discuss her extraordinary Broadway career and her work with legendary director/choreographer Michael Bennett, as well as other choreographers, with Broadway director John Doyle, a professor in Princeton University’s Lewis Center for the Arts. The discussion will take place on Monday, October 17 at 2:00 p.m. in the James M. Stewart ’32 Theater at 185 Nassau Street as a part of Doyle’s fall course, “Luminaries of the American Musical Theater.” Presented by the Lewis Center’s new Program in Music Theater, this event is free and open to the public.
Doyle’s course focuses on seven icons of American musical theater in the past 60 years, specifically Michael Bennett, Bob Fosse, John Kander and Fred Ebb, Harold Prince, Jerome Robbins, and Stephen Sondheim. Students are examining the influences of these icons on the evolution of American musical theater by studying the scripts and performances of musicals such as Chicago and West Side Story, presenting new production ideas for these plays, and engaging in lectures given by visiting professional musical theater figures who worked closely with these masters.
McKechnie is a celebrated Broadway performer and choreographer, particularly known for her Tony Award-winning role as Cassie in the original production of A Chorus Line. A trained ballet dancer, McKechnie moved from Michigan to New York City to pursue a career on Broadway, debuting in How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. Working alongside luminaries such as Michael Bennett, McKechnie performed in the Bennett-choreographed A Chorus Line and Promises, Promises and Stephen Sondheim’s Company. She has won a Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical, a Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Actress in a Musical, and a Theatre World Special Award, all for her performance in A Chorus Line. McKechnie has also been featured in film and television shows. In recent years, she wrote an autobiography titled Time Steps: My Musical Comedy Life and performed a one-woman musical based on of her life and career on Broadway, Inside the Music.
Doyle is a Tony Award-winning director recognized for his work on the Broadway revivals of Sweeney Todd and Company. This past year he received a Drama Desk Award as Best Director of a Musical for his revival of The Color Purple, for which he was also nominated for a Tony Award. His other credits in the U.S. include productions of The Visit (Tony nomination for Best Musical, Drama Desk nomination for Best Director); Mahagonny (Los Angeles Opera, 2 Grammy Awards); Passion (Classic Stage Company, Drama Desk nomination for Best Director of a Musical); Road Show (Public Theatre); Caucasian Chalk Circle (American Conservatory Theatre); and Kiss Me Kate (Stratford Festival Theatre). In addition to numerous credits in London’s West End, Doyle has also directed at Sydney Opera House, the Metropolitan Opera, Houston Grand Opera, La Fenice in Venice, Williamstown Theatre Festival, Second Stage Theatre, Princeton’s McCarter Theatre, and Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park. He has taught in Princeton’s Program in Theater and the Princeton Atelier for the past three years, and is the artistic director of Classic Stage Company in New York City.
Doyle’s class will be hosting discussions on other American musical theater figures throughout the semester. On November 7, Jonathan Tunick will visit to discuss his work as Stephen Sondheim’s main orchestrator. More guests are being scheduled for the second half of the semester. All these talks will be free and open to the public.
The series is supported in part by the David A. Gardner ’69 Magic Project in the Council of the Humanities.
The new Program in Music Theater is a collaboration among Princeton’s Program in Theater, Program in Dance and Department of Music, which brings together students, faculty, and guest artists in the creation, study, and performance of music theater to support and develop all forms of music theater—that is, any theatrical form that combines singing, acting, and movement—as both an artistic practice and a field of scholarly study.