McDonald will play the famed singer — who, in 1939, performed before an audience of 75,000 at the Lincoln Memorial — in the Obie-winning musical by Michael John LaChiusa. First Lady Suite will be presented May 2 and 3 at 7 PM at the New York Historical Society. Directed by Jack Cummings III, the concerts will also feature the talents of Judy Blazer, Donna Lynne Champlin, Ruth Gottschall, Jim Hindman, Robyn Hussa, Mary Beth Piel, Cheryl Stern, Diane Sutherland and Mary Testa.
First Lady Suite comprises four vignettes about the lives of four twentieth-century First Ladies: Jacqueline Kennedy, Mamie Eisenhower, Bess Truman and Eleanor Roosevelt. The mini-musicals are titled "Over Texas," "Where's Mamie?," "Olio" and "Eleanor Sleeps Here."
The upcoming concerts coincide with two exhibitions about First Ladies at the New York Historical Society: "First Ladies: Political Roles and Public Image" and "Eleanor Roosevelt and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis: First Ladies of New York and the Nation."
A four-time Tony Award winner for her work in A Raisin in the Sun, Master Class, Carousel and Ragtime, Audra McDonald was also on Broadway last season in Henry IV. The singer-actress 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. She also co-starred in the recent NBC series "Mister Sterling.”
The New York Historical Society is located at 170 Central Park West at 77th Street. Tickets, priced at $35, are available by calling (212) 817-8215.