A spokesperson for the Festival confirmed that the actress, who currently stars in the NBC drama “Mr. Sterling,” has been offered the role of Clara in the concert of the Stephen Sondheim musical, which will play two performances at the Chicago theatre August 22 and 23. Patti LuPone has already signed on to play the ill-fated Fosca in the Tony winning musical. No other casting has been announced for the summer Passion, although the Ravinia press office said a casting announcement is expected March 31. McDonald and LuPone also starred in another Sondheim work, “Sweeney Todd in Concert,” first presented at Lincoln Center in May 2000.
Based on Ettore Scola's Italian film "Passion d'Amore," Passion opened on Broadway on May 9, 1994, with a cast that featured Jere Shea (Giorgio), Marin Mazzie (Clara) and Donna Murphy (Fosca). The tale of obsessive love includes such Sondheim tunes as "Happiness," "I Read," "I Wish I Could Forget You," "Loving You" and "No One Has Ever Loved Me." The original Broadway production received the 1994 Tony Award for Best Musical; Donna Murphy also garnered her first Tony for Best Actress in a Musical, and Sondheim and Lapine were awarded prizes for, respectively, Best Original Score and Best Book of a Musical. Judy Kuhn, Rebecca Luker and Michael Cerveris starred in the recent Kennedy Center production of the musical during the D.C. Sondheim Celebration.
A three-time Tony Award winner for her work in Master Class, Carousel and Ragtime, Audra McDonald was most recently on Broadway in the title role of Marie Christine. The singer-actress recently made her solo Carnegie Hall concert debut in an evening of songs scored for big bands, performing several tunes from her Nonesuch CD "Happy Songs." McDonald's other solo recordings, "Way Back to Paradise" and "How Glory Goes," are also on the Nonesuch label. "Mister Sterling" airs Fridays 8-9 PM ET on NBC.
The Ravinia theatre is located in Highland Park, IL; for more information, go to www.ravinia.org.