Audra McDonald Named Honorary Chair of New York Musical Festival

News   Audra McDonald Named Honorary Chair of New York Musical Festival
Initial casting for the new works fest includes Tony Award winner Wilson Jermaine Heredia, Tony nominee Emily Skeggs, Lesli Margherita, and Mitchell Jarvis.
Audra McDonald Joseph Marzullo/WENN

The New York Musical Festival has announced that six-time Tony Award winner Audra McDonald will serve as honorary chair for its 2017 festival, which runs July 10-August 6 in theatres across New York City.

“New musicals are essential to seeing our art form continue to flourish and impact new audiences,” McDonald said in a statement. “It’s important for artists to support these new works by bringing them to life on stage. In my career, some of the most rewarding endeavors have been those explored alongside the composer, playwright, or director. Their ideas are not only artistic, but often have an important message for the audience—one that can have a great effect on our society.

“The beauty of theatre is that people of different races, ages, genders, and orientations gather together to hear a story. I believe that sharing this experience is an amazing way for all of us to find what we have in common rather than how we differ. New ideas and new musicals bring people to the theater. The more people we bring in, the greater our chances are to find common ground.”

Initial casting was also announced for several productions, including Tony Award-winning Rent star Wilson Jermaine Heredia in Pedro Pan; Tony nominee Emily Skeggs in The Shakespearean Jazz Show; Matthew McConaughey Vs. The Devil: An American Myth, starring Lesli Margherita, Max Crumm, Wayne Wilcox, and Jennifer Blood; Nancy Anderson in The Fourth Messenger; Camp Wanatachi starring Billy Lewis Jr., Krystina Alabado, Remy Zaken, and Sami Gayle; Kennedy Caughell and Mitchell Jarvis in Killer Wigs From Outer Space; PJ Griffith and Jillian in Georama: An American Panorama Told On 3 Miles Of Canvas; Lauren Patten and Ephie Aardema in The Goree All–Girl String Band; Milo Manheim and Will Meyers in Generation Me; Brian Charles Rooney in Miss Blanche Tells It All; Matthew Gumley in Happily: The Musical; Brynn Williams in Freedom Riders: The Civil Rights Musical; and Grace Hightower De Niro in I Am, I Will, I Do.

Dan Markley serves as NYMF executive director, and Rachel Sussman serves as producing artistic director. NYMF shows will be presented at The Acorn Theatre at Theatre Row, The Peter Jay Sharp Theater, Playwrights Horizons Rehearsal Studio, The Green Room 42 @ YOTEL, and The Castillo Theatre.

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