Audra McDonald is one of the greatest voices on the stage and the main draw for Shuffle Along, a show about the creation of a Broadway hit, but the production will have to shuffle along without her for much of this year. Why? Audra’s having a baby! The six-time Tony winner announced her pregnancy today, and with it, the news that she’ll be out of the show from July 24 through this fall. McDonald’s West End debut in Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill, which was set for this summer, has been postponed as well. Rhiannon Giddens will fill the role of Lottie Gee in Shuffle Along in McDonald’s absence, while choreographer Savion Glover will also step into the dance-heavy show.
McDonald and her husband Will Swenson have a daughter and two sons, respectively, from their previous marriages, but this is their first child together. “Who knew that tap dancing during perimenopause could lead to pregnancy?” McDonald, who is 45, said in a statement. “Will and I are completely surprised — and elated — to be expecting a new addition to our family. I am so very grateful to everyone in New York and London for allowing me to rearrange my schedule to accommodate this little miracle. While I’m disappointed I have to postpone my West End debut in Lady Day, I’m glad I’ll be able to spend a little more time in Shuffle Along this summer and will look forward to setting up a 1920s-themed nursery in my dressing room when I return to the show.” Last week, Shuffle Along earned ten Tony nominations, though McDonald was conspicuously absent from the list. But who cares? When you already have six awards, a baby has to be a lot more exciting.