Tony Award winners Audra McDonald, Laura Benanti and Christian Borle are joining Carrie Underwood and Stephen Moyer in NBC’s live production of The Sound Of Music, a three-hour broadcast set for December 5. McDonald, a five-time Tony winner, will play Mother Abbess; Benanti, who won a Tony for Gypsy, will play Elsa Schrader; and Borle, who starred on NBC’s now-cancelled Smash and won a Tony for Peter And The Starcatcher, is returning to the network to play Max Dettweiler. The three-hour production will be based on the original 1959 Broadway production that starred Mary Martin as Maria and Theodore Bikel as Captain Von Trapp. The Universal TV-produced special is exec produced by Oscar producers Neil Meron and Craig Zadan.
Private Practice alumna Audra McDonald has been cast in the CBS drama pilot The Ordained, executive produced by Frank Marshall. Directed by RJ Cutler from a script by Lisa Takeuchi Cullen, Ordained centers on Tom Reilly (Charlie Cox), the son of a Kennedy-esque family who leaves the priesthood and becomes a lawyer at a top New York firm to prevent his politician sister from being assassinated. McDonald will play Anthea, a senior litigator at the firm. McDonald is the second Private Practice co-star to book a pilot; KaDee Strickland is in NBC’s Bloodline.
Original Private Practice cast member Audra McDonald will be leaving the Grey’s Anatomy spinoff at the end of the season. According to TVLine’s Michael Ausiello who scooped the news, New York-based McDonald is exiting the show to spend more time with her family, including 10-year-old daughter Zoe, in the Big Apple. For the past 4 years, she has been bi-coastal while filming Private Practice in Los Angeles. While she won’t be a regular on the medical drama anymore, McDonald is expected to reprise her character of Naomi in guest appearances.
The White House has just announced that next Monday WETA is taping for broadcast on PBS on October 20th “A Broadway Celebration: In Performance at the White House” featuring performances by major Broadway artists and new talent presenting selections from American musicals. The evening will include Nathan Lane, Idina Menzel, Brian d’Arcy James, Audra McDonald, Chad Kimball, Marvin Hamlisch, Karen Olivo, Assata Alston and a youth ensemble from the Joy of Motion Dance Center. This is a continuation of the “In Performance at the White House” series.