I’m going to see Ms. McKechnie on May 29, and I think you should too– it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity to get up close and personal with a Broadway/international celebrity. I can’t wait to see and hear more about her legendary career…
“Sonoma Speaker Series: In Conversation with Donna McKechnie”
Actress, singer and dancer reflects on her life and career
Wednesday – May 29, 2019 at Hanna Boys Center Auditorium in Sonoma, CA
Donna McKechnie, best-known and beloved for her portrayal of Cassie in the original Broadway cast of the 1975 musical “A Chorus Line” for which she received the Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical, will be the interview guest at a Sonoma Speaker Series event on Wednesday – May 29, 2019 at the Hanna Boys Center Auditorium in Sonoma. The Sonoma Speaker Series partners with Transcendence Theatre Company for this special presentation featuring Donna McKechnie in conversation with Amy Miller, Artistic Director for Transcendence Theatre Company.
The event will include a performance by cast members of Transcendence Theatre Company’s upcoming production of “A Chorus Line” (directed by Amy Miller) and a 30-minute question and answer session with the audience.
With an illustrious career spanning more than 50 years, McKechnie is internationally regarded as one of Broadway’s foremost singing and dancing leading ladies with a professional career that includes dancing, singing, acting and choreography.
Born in Pontiac, Mich. in 1942, McKechnie grew up in the Detroit suburbs before falling for musicals by going to the movies. After seeing the film “The Red Shoes” she began ballet classes at the age of 7 and by the age of 13 was teaching her own class. Without the support to pursue her dream, McKechnie ran away from home at age 17 and moved to New York City to become a dancer. After touring in “West Side Story,” McKechnie made her Broadway debut in 1961 as a dancer in “How to Succeed in Business Without Even Trying,” directed by Bob Fosse.
McKechnie’s Broadway credits include starring roles in “On the Town,” “A Chorus Line,” “Company” and “State Fair.” A recognized presence on the international stage, she first performed in London in 1969 with the musical “Promises – Promises” and starred in numerous productions in London’s West End including “Company,” “No Way to Treat A Lady,” (which she choreographed), “Can-Can” and “Follies.” McKechnie’s memoir “TIME STEPS – My Musical Comedy Life,” was published in 2006.
Transcendence Theatre Company launches its 2019 “Broadway Under the Stars” season performing its first full-length Broadway musical, “A Chorus Line.” The production, featuring Broadway professionals, will be presented June 14 to June 30, 2019 in the open-air venue at Jack London State Historic Park in Glen Ellen.
WHEN: 7 to 8:30 p.m. Wednesday – May 29, 2019
WHERE: Hanna Boys Center Auditorium, 17000 Arnold Drive, Sonoma, CA 95476
TICKETS: $35 to $75 / $35 general admission. $75 VIP admission.
VIP tickets includes: Pre-event reception: 5:45 to 6:45 p.m. VIP reception in the Hanna Boys Center Auditorium Legacy Center with cast members of Transcendence Theatre Company’s “A Chorus Line.” The VIP reception includes complimentary beer, wine and appetizers. Reserved seating: VIP tickets also include reserved seating in the first few rows of the auditorium for the speaker presentation Post-event reception: From 8:30 to 9 p.m. VIP ticket holders may attend an informal gathering with Donna McKechnie in the Hanna Boys Center Auditorium Legacy Center.
Please see Sonoma Speaker Series biography for Donna McKechnie below.
The Sonoma Speaker Series is partnering with Transcendence Theatre Company to bring Donna McKechnie to our town! McKechnie is a professional dancer, singer, actress, choreographer, and author whose illustrious career has spanned more than 50 years. She is regarded internationally as one of Broadway’s foremost singing and dancing leading ladies.
Donna is best-known and beloved for her portrayal of Cassie in the original Broadway cast of the 1975 musical, A Chorus Line, for which she received the Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical. Her featured number, “The Music and the Mirror,” sheds a spotlight on the hopes and dreams of a struggling dancer, willing to return to the chorus for a job doing what she loves.
Born in Pontiac, Michigan in 1942, McKechnie grew up in the Detroit suburbs before falling for musicals by going to the movies. After seeing the film, The Red Shoes, she took her first ballet class at age 7, and by 13 she was teaching her own class. “I was terribly shy,” she told People Magazine in 1983, “but I was always in harmony when I was dancing.”
“I knew about New York when I was very young because of Cyd Charisse, Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, then ‘The Red Shoes’ literally changed my life,” McKechnie said. At age 17, when she didn’t have the support to pursue her dream, she ran away from home and moved to New York City to become a dancer.
After touring in West Side Story, and auditioning for countless other shows, she finally landed her Broadway debut in How to Succeed in Business Without Even Trying, where she danced under the direction of Bob Fosse (1961). 25 years later Mr. Fosse invited her to play the lead in his last production, the National Tour of “Sweet Charity”. Gwen Verdon gave her the gift of a lifetime when she took Donna by the hand and personally prepared her for the role.
By the time A Chorus Line hit Broadway, it was already a phenomenon, becoming the longest-running show in history (1975-1990). While that record has since been broken — the current leader is now The Phantom of the Opera (1988-present) — the music of Marvin Hamlisch lives on.
Other Broadway shows that Donna performed in include:
- The Education of Hyman Kaplan
- Sondheim: A Musical Tribute (which she also choreographed)
- Promises – Promises
- On the Town
- State Fair (where she won the Fred Astaire Award)
- The Visit
- A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum
Donna continues to perform extensively on the concert stage and with symphony orchestras all over the country.
A recognized presence on the international stage, Donna first performed in London in 1969 with the musical Promises – Promises and has starred in numerous productions in London’s West End since including Company, No Way to Treat A Lady (also choreographed), Can-Can, and Follies, among others.
McKechnie was featured in the documentary film, Every Little Step, and played Rose in the film, The Little Prince. Her memoir, TIME STEPS – My Musical Comedy Life, was published in 2006.
Ms. McKechnie will be in conversation with Amy Miller, Artistic Director for Transcendence Theatre Company. Transcendence will be launching their 2019 Broadway Under the Stars season by performing their first full-length Broadway musical, A Chorus Line, at Jack London State Park in June. The entire cast will be on hand for this Speaker Series event and may even perform a song or two on stage with Donna!
Transcendence Theatre Company sponsors include: Benziger Family Winery, The Press Democrat, Jack London State Historic Park, Kaiser Permanente, Redwood Credit Union, Exchange Bank, Sotheby’s International, Hansel BMW, Bank of Marin, Alan & Susan Seidenfeld Charitable Fund, Chateau St. Jean, KZST, Girl & the Fig, Beau Wine Tours, Daryl Reese Attorney at Law, Freidman’s Home Improvement, Parkpoint Health Club, Atwood Ranch, Glen Ellen Properties, JDH Wealth Management, Sonoma Valley Inn, Greenhouse Capital Partners, Fairmont Mission Inn, Sonoma Valley Wine, The Dance Center, The Presentation School. Nightly Wine Sponsors include Glen Lyon & Two Amigos and Talisman Wines.
More about Transcendence Theatre Company: Based in Sonoma County, California, Transcendence Theatre Company is an award-winning, nonprofit arts organization comprised of artists with professional experience from Broadway, film and television. The company’s headliners have included Sutton Foster and Megan Hilty. Featured performers have appeared in Broadway productions including “Hamilton,” “The Book of Mormon,” “Mamma Mia,” “Les Misérables,” “Chicago,” “La Cage Aux Follies,” “Gypsy,” “Hairspray,” “Follies,” “42nd Street,” “White Christmas,” “Mary Poppins” and “Wicked.” Transcendence Theatre Company specializes in producing high caliber Broadway concerts in distinctive Sonoma County locations – from its primary home within the majestic open-air ruins of the historic winery in Jack London State Historic Park to other remarkable and stunning settings throughout wine country and the community. Since its inception in 2011, Transcendence Theatre Company productions have been experienced by over 151,000 patrons and raised over $450,000 for Jack London State Historic Park.