André De Shields. Photo by Lia Chang

Tony, Grammy and Emmy Winner André De Shields to Play Final Broadway Performance in HADESTOWN on May 29

André De Shields. Photo by Lia Chang
André De Shields as Hermes in HADESTOWN in 2019. Photo by Lia Chang

André De Shields, who has enthralled audiences with his award-winning portrayal of Hermes in Hadestown, Broadway’s Tony Award®-winning Best New Musical, will play his final performance at the Walter Kerr Theatre (219 West 48th Street) on Sunday, May 29. Casting for the role of Hermes will be announced at a future date.

For his portrayal of the messenger of the gods, De Shields won the 2019 Broadway triple crown, receiving the Tony Award, Drama Desk Award®, and Outer Critics Circle Award®. The Actors’ Equity Foundation followed suit with the Richard Seff Award, honoring veteran stage actors’ best supporting performances of the year. He also received a Grammy Award® for Best Musical Theater Album for the show’s Original Broadway Cast Recording. His legendary run in Hadestown coincided with his 50th anniversary as a performer, having made his professional acting debut in the 1969 production of Hair in Chicago.

André De Shields and Anais Mitchell. Photo by Lia Chang
André De Shields and Anais Mitchell at the National Theatre in London in Nov. 2019. Photo by Lia Chang

Anaïs Mitchell, Hadestown‘s Tony Award-winning writer said, “It was the privilege of a lifetime to work with André, our original Broadway Hermes. What can I say? He blessed us all. He blessed the character, the show, and the community with the full force of his majestic self. Not gonna lie, we’re all gonna be in mourning for a while at the Walter Kerr. But a wise man once said, ‘The top of one mountain is the bottom of the next…’ Keep climbing, your majesty, we love you forever.”

Professor Michael Dinwiddie, Susanne Wofford, Dean of NYU’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study, 2022 NYUAA Distinguished Alumni Award recipient André De Shields at the NYU Alumni Association’s Annual Awards Luncheon at Gotham Hall in New York on Apr. 1, 2022. Photo by Lia Chang

On April 1, De Shields (GAL ’91) was honored by his alma mater New York University at the NYU Alumni Association Awards luncheon, where Susanne Wofford, Dean of NYU’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study, was on hand to present him with the 2022 NYUAA Distinguished Alumni Award.

 

In 2022, De Shields received the 2022 St. Louis Theater Circle Award for Outstanding Leading Performer in a Drama for his searing portrayal of the title character in St. Louis Shakespeare Festival’s production of King Lear, and the 2021 BroadwayWorld Cabaret Award in the category of Best Show, Celebrity, for his latest theatrical concert, Black By Popular Demand: A Musical Meditation On How Not To Be Eaten By The Sphinx, which debuted at Feinstein’s/54 Below in New York and at The Cabaret in Indianapolis in August.

Rayme Cornell, André De Shields and The Company of KING LEAR. Photo by Lia Chang

St. Louis Shakespeare Festival’s KING LEAR Star André De Shields, Director Carl Cofield and Sound Designer David R. Molina Win 2022 St. Louis Theater Circle Awards

He is currently nominated for a 2022 MAC Award for Best Celebrity Artist for his theatrical concert. The entire production of Black By Popular Demand: A Musical Meditation On How Not To Be Eaten By The Sphinx was conceived, written and directed by André, featuring additional material by Murray Horwitz, music direction by Sean Mayes on piano, and percussion by Rudy Bird.

Rudy Bird, Lori Tishfield, André De Shields, Freida Williams, Samuel Moses-Jones, Kimberly Marable, Sean Mayes. Photo by Lia Chang

The featured vocalists are Kimberly Marable, Lori Tishfield and Freida Williams. The creative team also includes Costume Design by Christina Cocchiara, Celebratory Umbrellas by Brendan McCann, and Headdresses by Debra Scotti. Click here for the Broadwayworld Stage Mag Program. Winners will be announced on April 12.

André De Shields in Black By Popular Demand: A Musical Meditation On How Not To Be Eaten By The Sphinx at Feinstein’s/54 Below in New York on August 4, 2021. Photo by Lia Chang

André De Shields: BLACK BY POPULAR DEMAND: A MUSICAL MEDITATION ON HOW NOT TO BE EATEN BY THE SPHINX Wins 2021 BroadwayWorld Cabaret Award

André De Shields Receives 2022 MAC Award Nomination for Black By Popular Demand: A Musical Meditation On How Not To Be Eaten By The Sphinx; Full List of Nominees

In a career spanning more than half a century, André De Shields has acquired a number of sobriquets, among them, “Broadway Diety,” “Professional Charmer,” and “Papa Dré.”

André De Shields attends the NY Premiere of tick, tick…BOOM! at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre in New York on November 15, 2021. photo by Lia Chang

De Shields has also distinguished himself as a director, philanthropist and educator. His defining theatrical performances include roles in the original Broadway productions of The Full Monty (Tony Award Nomination), Play On! (Tony Award nomination), Ain’t Misbehavin’ (Emmy Award), and the titular role in The Wiz. De Shields is experiencing growing pains as he prepares for his next adventure as Actor/Activist, eradicating the inauthentic while elevating the inexplicable.

André De Shields backstage at Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall in Baltimore, MD on December 4, 2021, where he performed in concert with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and The Baltimore City College Choir. Photo by Lia Chang

De Shields embraced cabaret early on. Beginning in the ’70s, he created a string of original shows that performed at such landmark New York clubs as Gypsy’s, the Grand Finale, Reno Sweeney, Les Mouches, the Club at La MaMa, the Horn of Plenty, Greene Street, as well as in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and London. In 1984, he co-wrote, choreographed, co-directed, and starred in the Broadway musical revue André De Shields’ Haarlem Nocturne. More recent cabaret appearances have included Feinstein’s/54 Below, The Cabaret, Lincoln Center’s American Songbook Series, Joe’s Pub, Laurie Beechman Theatre in New York, Old School Square’s Crest Theatre in Delray Beach, Fl. and Aventura Arts & Cultural Center. He is a recipient of the 2018 Bob Harrington Life Achievement Bistro Award.

In 2021, New York Senator Brad Hoylman presented De Shields with a Senate Proclamation on April 8th, 2021 proclaiming the day “André De Shields Appreciation Day”. The surprise proclamation was arranged by producer Tom D’Angora to honor André’s extensive charity work and activism, along with the public appearances. André starred in the title role of St. Louis Shakespeare Festival’s King Lear in June, 2021. On opening night, St. Louis Mayor Tishaura O. Jones issued a Mayoral Proclamation naming June 4, 2021 as “King Lear/André De Shields Day”.  De Shields received the 2021 John Willis Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Theatre, the 2021 Sarah Siddons Society of Chicago’s Actor of the Year Award and the 2021 Jim Owles Liberal Democratic Club Human Rights Award.

Contributions to the André De Shields Fund on Day of the Badger Make a Difference for Underrepresented UW-Madison Undergraduate Students to Thrive

A New Effort to Support BIPOC Artists and Stories and How André De Shields Became Its Namesake

In 2020, De Shields received the 2020 Grammy Award for Musical Theater Album for Hadestown, an Honorary Doctor of Arts Degree from Boston Conservatory at Berklee, the 2020 AUDELCO for Lifetime Achievement and the 2020 Red Bull Theater Matador Award for Excellence in Classical Theater.

2019 honors include The Actors’ Equity Foundation Richard Seff Award, which honors veteran stage actors’ best supporting performances of the year, the Project1Voice Lifetime Achievement Award, the 2019 SAGE Joyce Warshow Lifetime Achievement Award, and The York Theatre Company’s 2019 Oscar Hammerstein Award for Lifetime Achievement in Musical Theatre, among others. He was also inducted into the Theater Hall of Fame. He received the Key to the City of Baltimore from Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young in August, 2019.

Other accolades include the 8th Annual Off Broadway Alliance Legend Award, the 33rd Annual Bob Harrington Life Achievement Bistro Award, the 2009 National Black Theatre Festival’s Living Legend Award and the 2007 Village Voice Obie Award for Sustained Excellence of Performance.

His film and TV roles include Keys, who first appeared in a 2014 episode of “Law and Order: Special Victims Unit.” He has also appeared on “Law and Order” twice, as Dr. Elvin Simmonds (Custody,1996) and Mr. Miller (Cost of Capital,2006); Dale Rustin on NBC’s “New Amsterdam”; Anton Ego in Ratatouille: The TikTok Tok Musical, the Algebra Tutor in “John Mulaney & The Sack Lunch Bunch” on Netflix; Chubby in “Katy Keene” on the CW; and Wyndham on “Almost Family.” He stars in Foxing’s new music video, Draw Down the Moon, and can be heard on the podcasts Live From Mount Olympus as Hermes and One Speckled Hen. He can be seen in Lin-Manuel Miranda’s tick, tick…BOOM! and as Gavin Plimsoll in Charles Busch and Carl Andress’ comedy film, The Sixth Reel. De Shields is a proud member of AEA, SAG-AFTRA, and SDC. andredeshields.com

In addition to De Shields, the Broadway cast of Hadestown is led by Jewelle Blackman as Persephone, Grammy Award winner Reeve Carney as Orpheus, two-time Tony Award nominee and Grammy Award winner Eva Noblezada as Eurydice, and Grammy Award winner and Tony Award nominee Patrick Page as Hades. They are joined by Soara-Joye Ross, Jessie Shelton, and Kay Trinidad as the Fates. The chorus of Workers is played by Emily Afton, Malcolm Armwood, Trent Saunders, Grace Yoo. The cast includes swings Tara Jackson, Tomás Matos, Sayo Oni, Yael “YaYa” Reich, T. Oliver Reid, and Davis Wayne.

Tickets for Hadestown on Broadway are available at www.seatgeek.com/hadestown-tickets or by visiting the Walter Kerr Theatre box office (219 West 48th Street).

The show originated as Mitchell’s indie theater project that toured Vermont which she then turned into an acclaimed album. With Chavkin, her artistic collaborator, Hadestown has been transformed into a genre-defying new musical that blends modern American folk music with New Orleans-inspired jazz to reimagine a sweeping ancient tale.

Following two intertwining love stories – that of young dreamers Orpheus and Eurydice, and that of King Hades and his wife Persephone – Hadestown invites audiences on a hell-raising journey to the underworld and back. Mitchell’s beguiling melodies and Chavkin’s poetic imagination pit industry against nature, doubt against faith, and fear against love. Performed by a vibrant ensemble of actors, dancers, and singers, Hadestown delivers a deeply resonant and defiantly hopeful theatrical experience.

Hadestown is the most honored show of the 2018-2019 season. In addition to the show’s eight Tony Awards, it has been honored with four Drama Desk Awards, six Outer Critics Circle Awards including Outstanding New Broadway Musical and the Drama League Award for Outstanding Production of a Musical. The show is the highest-grossing musical in the history of the Walter Kerr Theatre (219 West 48th Street).

Hadestown marks the first time in over a decade that a woman has been the solo author of a musical: writing the music, lyrics, and book, and is the fourth time in Broadway history a woman has accomplished this creative feat. It also marks the first time in Broadway history that a show’s female composer and female director both won Tony Awards for their work.

Hadestown is produced by Mara Isaacs, Dale Franzen, Hunter Arnold, and Tom Kirdahy and the creative team features Tony Award winner Rachel Hauck (set design), four-time Tony Award nominee Michael Krass (costume design), two-time Tony Award winner Bradley King (lighting design), Tony Award winners Nevin Steinberg and Jessica Paz (sound design), Obie Award® winner and Chita Rivera Award® winner David Neumann (choreography), Liam Robinson (music direction and vocal arrangements), Tony Award winners Michael Chorney and Todd Sickafoose (arrangements and orchestrations), Ken Cerniglia (dramaturgy), and Stewart/Whitley (casting).

The North American tour is currently playing Tucson’s Centennial Hall through Sunday, April 17 and starting Tuesday, April 26 will make its West Coast debut at Los Angeles’ Ahmanson Theatre. For the latest tour route and other information, please visit: http://www.hadestown.com/tour

The Original Broadway Cast Recording of Hadestown is also available on CD and streaming. The album was released digitally in summer of 2019, and topped Billboard’s Broadway Cast Recording chart, and debuted at #8 on the Top Album chart. The CD edition features a 64-page booklet and a two-disc set, while the triple vinyl edition features a 16-page booklet. Both editions include complete song lyrics and never before seen photos of the Hadestown cast and creative team in the studio, and other exclusive content.

In fall of 2020, Mitchell released Working On A Song: The Lyrics of Hadestown, an illuminating book of lyrics and stories about her more than decade’s long process of building the musical from the ground up. Working On A Song is available from Penguin Random House.

Hadestown electrified audiences with its 2016 world premiere at New York Theatre Workshop, which is the longest-running show in that celebrated theater’s 40-year history. The production then received its Canadian premiere at Edmonton’s Citadel Theatre in 2017 and then a 2018 sold-out engagement at the London’s National Theatre prior to Broadway. Hadestown was developed with funding from the Eli and Edythe Broad Stage at the Santa Monica College Performing Arts Center and was further developed by The Ground Floor at Berkeley Repertory Theatre. Hadestown was co-conceived by Ben t. Matchstick.

Hadestown originally opened at the Walter Kerr Theatre on April 17, 2019 and reopened on Sept. 2, 2021 after the theatrical shutdown.

BWW Feature: The Best of 2021 Cabaret, Club, and Concert

Lia Chang

LIA CHANG is a Chinese-American actor, a multi-media content producer, an award-winning filmmaker, and a photo activist and documentarian, who lifts up and amplifies BIPOC communities and artists and the institutions that support them.

Lia moved to New York from her home in San Francisco when she was 17 years of age and made her stage debut as Liat in a national tour of South Pacific with Barbara Eden and Robert Goulet. She spent many years working extensively Off-Broadway, including Signature Theatre’s revival of Sam Shepard’s Chicago. Her film work includes Wolf, New Jack City, A Kiss Before Dying, King of New York, Big Trouble in Little China, and The Last Dragon. The decades of being viewed by others through the narrow lens of “Asian actor” in the industry brought Lia to a turning point, and she picked up her camera, determined to create awareness by documenting the work and the lives of her BIPOC colleagues, resulting in the creation of thousands of photographs and pieces of video. Her photo archives are housed in the AAPI collection in the Library of Congress’ Asian Reading Room under “Lia Chang Theater Portfolio collection,1989-2011” and in the “Lia Chang Photography Collection” in The Billy Rose Theatre Division of the New York Public Library.

Lia’s awards include the 2000 OCA Chinese American Journalist Award and the 2001 AAJA National Award for New Media. She is also an AAJA Executive Leadership Graduate, a Western Knight Fellow at USC’s Annenberg College of Communications for Specialized Journalism on Entertainment Journalism in the Digital Age, a National Press Photographers Association Visual Edge/Visual Journalism Fellow at the Poynter Institute for New Media, and a Scripps Howard New Media Fellow at the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism.

More recently, Lia co-founded Bev’s Girl Films, which makes films that foster inclusion and diversity on both sides of the camera. She executive produced and starred in the indie films Hide and Seek (AA Film Lab’s 2015 72 Hour Shootout Best Actress Nomination), Rom-Com Gone Wrong, and When the World Was Young (2021 DisOrient Film Audience Choice Award for Best Short Narrative).

Lia will receive the 2022 Prospect Theater Company Muse Award on May 1. She is honored to have worked with Prospect Theater Company on a shared mission of lifting up BIPOC theater artists and creating a more diverse and inclusive musical theater canon. A retrospective of Lia’s photographs will be on view at the Museum of the City of New York later this year, documenting her BIPOC colleagues and contemporaries in the performing arts, which will include photos of Prospect Theater Company artists at work. www.liachang.com, www.liachangphotography.com

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