NYCC 2020 Gala: An Evening with Audra McDonald and So Much More

The Streaming Experience: New York City Center 2020 Gala features An Evening with Audra McDonald

Filmed live on the City Center stage, the digital Gala concert premieres December 9; Available on demand for one week only

It’s like a big Christmas present to the world, when New York City Center announced that Audra McDonald was going to the main event at the 2020 Gala presentation that will take place on Wednesday, December 9 at 7:30pm (pre-show events begin at 6:30pm). This special benefit performance starring the iconic Tony Award winning performer is titled, most simply and elegantly An Evening with Audra McDonald. Hosted by the adorable and talented Michael Urie (Broadway/2ST’s Torch Song), the gala concert will be filmed live on the City Center stage and then, like a gift from the theatre gods to all of us this holiday season, the show will be presented digitally streaming on their website: The Gala event will be available on demand for one week only through Wednesday, December 16. Funds raised by all streamed performances will ensure City Center is able to continue its founding mission to provide access to the best in the performing arts to the widest possible audience and to support artists with new opportunities to create and perform.

We are so excited and honored that the great Audra McDonald will be making her New York City Center debut as part of our annual gala presentation and our commitment to turning the lights back on at City Center,” said President & CEO Arlene Shuler. “While we may not be able to gather in celebration this year, I am delighted that we are able to capture Audra’s exceptional talent on our stage and bring the energy of this live performance directly to our audience.”

Audra McDonald.

Longtime collaborator and music director Andy Einhorn will accompany the Tony, Grammy, and Emmy Award-winning McDonald (Broadway’s Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune) for an intimate evening of songs showcasing her exceptional range from the golden age of Broadway and the Great American Songbook to today’s new voices in musical theater. Widely praised for her unparalleled breadth and versatility as a singer and an actor, McDonald is as much at home on Broadway and opera stages as she is in roles on film and television. In addition to her theatrical work, she maintains a major career as a concert and recording artist and has appeared on the great stages of the world. Off stage, McDonald is a passionate advocate for equal rights, LGBTQ causes, and underprivileged youth. She is also a founding member of Black Theatre United, whose mission is to inspire reform and combat systemic racism within the theater community and throughout the nation.

Gala packages, including festive pre- and post-show events with City Center artists and McDonald herself, are available now starting at $2,500. For additional information and reservations, email

Digital access for New York City Center’s 2020 Gala concert starts at $35 and is on sale now to the general public online at The Gala concert will be available on demand for one week only through Wednesday, December 16.

Audra McDonald.

New York City Center also announced future Encores! production ushering in a new tradition celebrating iconic American musicals:

Into the Woods, Directed by Encores! Artistic Director Lear deBessonet

Encores! Inside the Revival | The Life episode released today
featuring Mykal Kilgore, Ledisi, and Director and Adapter Billy Porter

New York City Center announced an additional musical in development as part of the longstanding Encores! series. Led by Encores! Artistic Director Lear deBessonet, Encores! Music Director Rob Berman, and Encores! Creative Producing Director Clint Ramos, the future of the popular Tony-honored series will include varied expressions of musical theater revivals: hidden gems from the Broadway canon, productions where artists reclaim work through their own personal lens, and celebrations that look at the ways classic musicals connect us. For me personally, I couldn’t have been more excited to read that Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine’s Into the Woods will be the first production of this third tenet and usher in a new tradition at City Center celebrating iconic American musicals.

An Annual Celebration of Iconic American Musicals

Encores! Artistic Director Lear deBessonet

Encores! Artistic Director Lear deBessonet said, “If the reason to revive a hidden gem is to discover it, then the reason to revive a beloved musical that holds enormous meaning to so many people is to discover what we have in common, and how our experience with these shows connects us. One of the things I find remarkable about musical theater is the space it holds in America—against all odds, providing a touchpoint of commonality. Among its many rich layers, Into the Woods is a fable about how humans pursue their wishes, and what happens when they set aside their individual wishes to create a greater community wish.” 

For these future Encores! productions of iconic American musicals, the New York theater community will wrap its arms around a multi-generational group of theater lovers who have experience with their own production to celebrate the fact that these musicals are something we have in common.

Encores! Inside the Revival

Streamed for free on City Center’s website and YouTube channel, the new digital series Encores! Inside the Revival explores the future Encores! productions (The LifeThe Tap Dance Kid, and Into the Woods) and cancelled shows from the spring 2020 season—providing a look inside the creative process of these revivals.

The first installment of the series features Emmy and Tony Award-winning artist Billy Porter (FX’s Pose) who takes audiences through his reimagining of the 1997 Tony-nominated musical, The Life. Punctuated with performances by recording artist and Encores! Off-Center alum Mykal Kilgore (“Use What You Got”) and Grammy-nominated artist Ledisi (“The Oldest Profession”), Encores! Producing Creative Director Clint Ramos and Porter discuss his vision as the production’s director and adapter for an updated take on the story of Queen, a prostitute, and her fellow sex workers, who strive for a better life against all oppressive forces in Times Square in 1980. By re-envisioning the main character of Queen, Porter transforms and evolves the story of The Life into one of hope and survival, honoring the characters’ given circumstances, and revealing their universal humanity. The Life features music by Cy Coleman, lyrics by Ira Gasman, and book byCy Coleman, Ira Gasman, and David Newman.


In the following episode to be released December 16, Tony Award-winning director Kenny Leon (A Raisin in the Sun)dives into the 1983 Tony-nominated musical The Tap Dance Kid, centered around the life of an upper-middle class Black family and a ten-year-old’s dream of being a professional tap dancer despite the challenges posed by his lawyer father and society. Leon, alongside book adapter Lydia Diamond, will give audiences an up-close look at the percussive heart of the story with the help of choreographer Jared Grimes and cast member from the original Broadway production Dulé HillThe Tap Dance Kid features music by Henry Krieger, lyrics by Robert Lorick, book by Charles Blackwell, adapted by Lydia Diamond, based on the novel “Nobody’s Family is Going to Change” by Louise Fitzhugh.

All Encores! Inside the Revival episodes will be streamed for free on City Center’s YouTube page and website at Programming and casting subject to change. New York City Center is located at 131 West 55th Street between 6th and 7th Avenues. For information call 212.581.1212 or visit

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