McDonald, one of the first stars announced for the high-profile musical, will be out of the show from Tuesday, June 21, 2016 (just following the Tony Awards), through Sunday, Sept. 25 in order to fulfill a pre-existing commitment. She'll return to the production Sept. 27 and is currently contracted with Shuffle Along through June 11, 2017.
McDonald's rep declined to reveal the project that will take McDonald away from the production. Reps for the show did not indicate who would fill in for McDonald during her leave. The in-demand star is also part of the upcoming Disney live-action film of Beauty and the Beast, which finished shooting in August.
The backstage story is about the making of one of the first all-black Broadway musical hits that was also written by African-Americans. It opened the door for black performers and writers on the stage during the 1920s Harlem Renaissance.
McDonald, who won the 2014 Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play for her performance in Lady Day at Emerson's Bar & Grill, has also won Tonys for Carousel, Master Class, Ragtime, A Raisin in the Sun and Porgy and Bess. She will play the 1920s headliner Lottie Gee, the star of Shuffle Along.
Scott Rudin is producing the show, which will start previews at the Music Box Theatre March 14, 2016, and open April 21. George C. Wolfe will write the book as well as direct, and Savion Glover will choreograph.