Three-time Tony winner Audra McDonald gave the celebs at the March 15 Drama League gala a scare. Just after singing "Down With Love," McDonald fainted and took a downward plunge off the stage. She was then taken to the hospital.
According to Sasha Tcherevkoff, public relations manager for the Drama League (reached March 16), McDonald "hyperventilated on stage and fell forward and hurt herself. She had a small cut on her chin that bled but looked worse than it was... She's out of the hospital now, and she's just fine. Apparently it's chronic hyperventilation."
Press photographer Aubrey Reuben, covering the event, added further details to the accident: "She sang the song, came forward, and fell off the stage face forward. There was a gasp and silence and people surrounded her on the floor. She was right in front of the table where Rosie [O'Donnell, the evening's honoree] was sitting. The fall was so tremendous. Then someone said `she's conscious.' But someone else said `this woman has been seriously hurt.'
Barbara Walters, one of the next speakers, apparently mentioned that McDonald has done this before. "She'd fainted during an audition for Carousel -- and then went on to win the Tony," Reuben recalled Walters saying.
The fainting spell was apparently the only dark spot in an otherwise glamorous and star-studded evening. Guests (some performing) included Patti LuPone, Julie Andrews, Katie Couric, Tony Bennett, Tyne Daly, Alan Cumming, Liz Smith, Diane Sawyer, Barbara Walters, Andrea Martin, Stephanie Mills, Mary Tyler Moore, Betty Buckley, Bebe Neuwirth, Swoosie Kurtz and F. Murray Abraham. The casts of Fosse and The Lion King performed, as did Couric, Smith, Moore & Sawyer -- as Kit Kat girls opposite Alan Cumming's emcee.
It was appropriate that this year's gala took place on March 15. This was the 15th annual gala, and the event celebrated the 15th anniversary of the Drama League's Directors' Project. Eric Winick, Director of Membership and Marketing, told Playbill On-Line, "Michael Mayer, Mark Brokaw and Christopher Ashley all came through the program."
Honoree O'Donnell appeared on Broadway in the Grease! revival and now hosts a weekday talk show that tirelessly promotes Broadway shows and performers.