Audra McDonald to Headline Long Wharf Theatre’s Annual Benefit on May 15, 2023

March 30, 2023

Audra McDonald
Photo Credit: Allison Michael Orenstein

AUDRA McDONALD: A Concert for Long Wharf Theatre, will be held on Southern Connecticut State University’s campus and feature a performance by the Emmy, Grammy, and Tony Award-winning artist

Long Wharf Theatre today announced the details of its annual benefit event entitled Audra McDonald: A Concert for Long Wharf Theatre. The event will take place on May 15, 2023 at Southern Connecticut State University’s John Lyman Center for the Performing Arts, as part of the two institutions’ new formalized partnership.

Sponsorships are on sale now on Long Wharf Theatre’s website; performance tickets will
go on sale on April 20.

“I have long admired Long Wharf Theatre and their bold conviction to build a new, inspired vision for regional theatres across the country,” said Audra McDonald. “Long Wharf’s leadership has done the tough work of thinking outside of the box and reimagining what’s possible for artists and audiences alike. I am so eager to return to New Haven and share this moment with the Long Wharf community at such an important stage in their history.”

As a performer and singer, Audra McDonald has won a record-breaking six Tony Awards, in addition to two Grammy Awards and an Emmy Award. In 2015, she was named one of Time magazine’s 100 most influential people and received a National Medal of Arts—America’s highest honor for achievement in the field—from President Barack Obama. On Broadway, McDonald is an accomplished musical, opera and drama performer, with roles in shows such as A Moon for the Misbegotten, 110 in the Shade, Carousel, Ragtime, Master Class, and Porgy and Bess. On television, McDonald has had major roles in series’ including ABC’s Private Practice, The Good Wife and The Good Fight. Her portrayals of Susie Monahan in Wit (2001) and Ruth Younger in A Raisin in the Sun (2008) led to two nominations for the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Limited Series or Movie. Audra was also nominated for the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series or Movie and a Screen Actors Guild Award for her role as Billie Holiday in the HBO film Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill (2016). In 2015 McDonald won the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Special Class Program after hosting the program Live from Lincoln Center. She is also widely known for her film performances, including roles in Ricki and the Flash (2015), Beauty and the Beast (2017), and Respect (2021). McDonald is a seven-time nominee for the NAACP Image Awards. She previously performed at Long Wharf Theatre’s 2015 benefit event during the company’s 50th Anniversary.

“Audra is a true groundbreaker and we cannot wait to welcome her back to New Haven to help us celebrate this extraordinary moment as we embark on our next chapter,” said Jacob Padrón, Artistic Director, Long Wharf Theatre. “When I think of boundary-breaking artists, I think of Audra McDonald — more than just about anyone. Audra lives our values of artistic innovation and radical inclusion every day. We are truly honored she’s chosen to spend this evening with us. This event will celebrate everything that Long Wharf stands for and we welcome the community to join us and support our bold new works and vision for New Haven.”

This year’s gala comes at a pivotal moment for Long Wharf Theatre, marking the end of its first season in transition beyond the company’s longtime space at Sargent Drive. The event invites patrons, artists, community members and theatre lovers to gather together for an evening of music, socializing, food and drink.

AUDRA McDONALD: A CONCERT FOR LONG WHARF THEATRE will begin with a cocktail hour, silent auction and speeches from institutional leadership. This will be followed by a paddle raise to support Long Wharf Theatre’s vision to bring theatre, without barriers, to spaces and stages across the region. Audra McDonald will then take the stage with a pianist accompaniment to perform a selection of songs. The festivities will include hors d’oeuvres, dinner and drinks, and an after party.

“Since undertaking its new model, Long Wharf Theatre continues to demonstrate leadership in presenting world-class theatre with productions like Live From the Edge and attracting top-tier talent to New Haven like Audra McDonald,” said Adriane Jefferson, Director of Cultural Affairs for the City of New Haven. “More than ever, Long Wharf Theatre is open for business and at the center of New Haven’s cultural revitalization. I so look forward to celebrating with our community at this year’s benefit and appreciate the important role the institution plays in putting New Haven on the map for theatre-lovers nationwide.”

This concert replaces the benefit reading of Arthur Miller’s The Crucible, which was originally announced as part of the 22/23 season lineup; the company looks forward to returning to this piece of Long Wharf Theatre’s legacy in a future season.

In December 2022, Long Wharf Theatre announced the launch of a new partnership with Southern Connecticut State University (SCSU), formalizing a more than thirty year long relationship between the two institutions. This collaboration embodies Long Wharf Theatre’s core pillar of kaleidoscopic community partnerships, and jointly strengthens each institution, both of which have deep roots in Greater New Haven. In addition to SCSU hosting this year’s benefit event, the partnership also includes opportunities to engage the next generation of theatre artists and audiences through the formation of a new paid internship program and special student discounts to Long Wharf Theatre productions.

On April 27, Live From the Edge will open at Space Ballroom in Hamden, and run until May 21. Created by Long Wharf’s Mellon Foundation playwrights-in-residence UNIVERSES (Steven Sapp and Mildred Ruiz-Sapp), the show is the first by the institution since it left its former space on Sargent Drive late last year. In early 2022, Long Wharf Theatre announced the move, reimagining the relationship between artists and audiences by creating theatre, without barriers, in spaces and stages across the region. Over the next few years, the company will produce in-person and virtual programming in partnership with local civic, cultural, and public institutions.


About Audra McDonald
Audra McDonald is unparalleled in the breadth and versatility of her artistry as both a singer and an actor. The winner of a record-breaking six Tony Awards, two Grammy Awards and an Emmy, in 2015 she received a National Medal of Arts from President Barack Obama and was named one of Time magazine’s 100 most influential people. She won Tonys for her performances in Carousel, Master Class, Ragtime, A Raisin in the Sun, The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess and Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill, which also served as the vehicle for her Olivier-nominated 2017 West End debut. On television, McDonald won an Emmy as the official host of PBS’s Live From Lincoln Center; she stars as Liz Reddick in The Good Fight on Paramount+ and guest-stars in Julian Fellowes’s historical drama The Gilded Age on HBO and HBO Max. Her film credits include Disney’s live-action Beauty and the Beast and MGM’s 2021 Aretha Franklin biopic, Respect. A Juilliard-trained soprano, McDonald maintains a major career as a Grammy-winning = recording and concert artist. Her latest solo album, Sing Happy, was recorded live with the New York Philharmonic for Decca Gold. A founding member of Black Theatre United, board member of Covenant House International, and prominent advocate for LGBTQAI+ rights, her favorite roles are those performed offstage, as an activist, wife to actor Will Swenson, and mother.