Broadway star to give Shapiro Lecture Nov. 5

November 1, 2017 | Arts, Events, News, UToday, Arts and Letters
By Meghan Cunningham

The University of Toledo has partnered with the Toledo Symphony to welcome Broadway star and Tony- and Grammy-winning performer Audra McDonald to town.

McDonald will share the story of her career, both as a singer and an actress on Broadway, opera stages, film and television, at the Edward Shapiro Distinguished Lecture Sunday, Nov. 5 from noon to 2 p.m. in Doermann Theater.


McDonald’s lecture at UT will follow her performance with the Toledo Symphony Orchestra Saturday, Nov. 4, at 8 p.m. at the Toledo Museum of Art Peristyle.

“The opportunity to engage in a conversation with an artist of Audra McDonald’s stature is an honor and a privilege for our students and the greater Toledo community,” said Charlene Gilbert, dean of the UT College of Arts and Letters. “We are pleased to partner with the Toledo Symphony to bring this internationally renowned performer to campus following her Toledo performance. This lecture is exactly the type of event that shapes and enriches the academic experience of our students and engages the community with our university.” 

McDonald is the winner of a record-breaking six Tony Awards, two Grammy Awards and an Emmy Award. She was named one of Time magazine’s 100 most influential people of 2015, and she received a 2015 National Medal of Arts — America’s highest honor for achievement in the arts — from President Barack Obama.

In addition to her Tony-winning performances, including “Carousel,” “A Raisin in the Sun” and “Porgy and Bess,” she has appeared on Broadway in “The Secret Garden,” “Marie Christine” (Tony nomination) and “110 in the Shade” (Tony nomination).

On television, McDonald played Mother Abbess in NBC’s “The Sound of Music Live!” and Dr. Naomi Bennett on ABC’s “Private Practice.” She won an Emmy Award for her role as host of PBS’s “Live from Lincoln Center.” On film, she has appeared in “Seven Servants,” “The Object of My Affection,” “Cradle Will Rock,” “It Runs in the Family,” “The Best Thief in the World,” “She Got Problems,” “Rampart, Ricki and the Flash” and, most recently, Disney’s live-action “Beauty and the Beast.”

Doors will open for McDonald’s free, public lecture at 11:30 a.m. with seating on a first-come, first-served basis.

Tickets remain available for McDonald’s performance with the Toledo Symphony. Tickets range from $49 to $99 and can be purchased by calling the box office at 419.246.8000 or visiting

“We are reaching new heights this season with our programming, bringing the greatest voices of our generation to Toledo,” said Felecia Kanney, director of marketing for the Toledo Symphony. “Audra McDonald is one of the finest voices in the world. Her program of Broadway favorites by Rodgers & Hammerstein, Stephen Sondheim, George Gershwin, and songs from her latest album titled ‘Go Back Home’ is a program that will be remembered for years to come.”

The annual lecture is made possible by the Shapiro endowment left by Dr. Edward Shapiro, professor emeritus of economics, who retired in 1989 and wanted to provide opportunities for the University to bring world-renowned speakers to Toledo.

Past Shapiro Distinguished Lecture speakers include Elie Wiesel, Oliver Sacks, Robert F. Kennedy Jr., Toni Morrison, Wynton Marsalis and E.J. Dionne Jr.

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