Donna McKechnie

Dancer, Singer, Actor
In the theater, a journeyman dancer is referred to as a gypsy. If there ever was a candidate for queen of those gypsies, Donna McKechnie could certainly fill the bill. The petite brunette has had the distinction of ... Read more »
Born: 11/15/1942 in Pontiac, Michigan, USA

Filmography

Actor (20)

Six by Sondheim 2013 - 2014 (TV Show)

Actor

36 Saints 2013 (Movie)

Ms. El (Actor)

Smash 2013 (Tv Show)

Actor

Every Little Step 2009 (Movie)

(Actor)

The 55th Annual Tony Awards 2000 - 2001 (TV Show)

Actor

The 50th Annual Tony Awards 1995 - 1996 (TV Show)

Actor

Night of 100 Stars III 1989 - 1990 (TV Show)

Actor

The 42nd Annual Tony Awards 1987 - 1988 (TV Show)

Actor

Broadway Sings: The Music of Jule Styne 1986 - 1987 (TV Show)

Actor

The Little Mermaid 1986 - 1987 (TV Show)

Actor

Cheers 1982 (Tv Show)

Actor

The Kraft 75th Anniversary Special 1977 - 1978 (TV Show)

Actor

Hotel 90 1972 - 1973 (TV Show)

Actor

The Little Prince 1973 (Movie)

Rose (Actor)

I'm a Fan 1971 - 1972 (TV Show)

Actor

Dark Shadows 1965 - 1971 (TV Show)

Actor

Original Cast Album: Company 1969 (Movie)

Herself (Actor)

Loving (TV Show)

Actor

Twirl (TV Show)

Actor

Biography

In the theater, a journeyman dancer is referred to as a gypsy. If there ever was a candidate for queen of those gypsies, Donna McKechnie could certainly fill the bill. The petite brunette has had the distinction of being directed by several of the stage's most prominent dance masters (notably Bob Fosse and Michael Bennett, to whom she was briefly married). She has made her mark in groundbreaking musicals and earned high praise for her acting and singing in revivals of classic shows. While she may not be well-known outside of select audiences, those who have been privileged to see her perform won't soon forget her sparkling theatricality and dynamic moves. In a career that has spanned more than 40 years, McKechnie remains at the top of her game.

Relationships

Fred Astaire Actor

Companion
"dated" a couple of times while she was appearing in "A Chorus Line" in L.A.

Michael Bennett

Husband
married in December 1976 divorced in 1977 had worked with him on numerous shows, including "A Chorus Line" married him despite knowing he was bisexual became reacquainted in 1983 after six years of not speaking he died of complications from AIDS in 1987

EDUCATION

HB Studio

New York , New York

Milestones

2001

Starred in the stage musical "Sheba", based on "Come Back, Little Sheba", performed at Lucille Lortel's White Barn Theatre & Museum

2001

Played Mama Rose in "Gypsy" at the Great Lakes Theater Festival

2001

Performed in "An Evening With Donna McKechnie: My Musical Comedy Life", a version of her one-woman show at Arci's Place in NYC

2000

Played Desiree Armfeldt in Massachusetts staging of "A Little Night Music"

2000

Appeared as Lela McGrath in the stage musical "Ginger", a biography of Ginger Rogers; reprised role in London workshop in fall 2001

2000

Cast as Lotte in the L.A. Reprise! production of "Mack and Mabel"

1998

Garnered praise for portrayal of Sally Durant Plummer in the Paper Mill Playhouse revival of "Follies"

1993

Reunited with most of the original cast for a concert staging of "Company" in Long Beach, California and in NYC

1993

Appeared in the ill-fated "Annie Warbucks", a sequel to the 1977 hit "Annie", based on the comic strip "Little Orphan Annie"

1987

Headlined a tour "Sweet Charity", directed and choreographed by Bob Fosse

1986

Returned to "A Chorus Line" on Broadway and once again essayed role of Cassie; also played role in Japan

1982

Made guest appearance on "Cheers" (NBC)

1981

Acted in the satiric TV-movie "Twirl" (NBC)

1979

Had rare non-musical stage role in "Wine Untouched"

1976

Diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis; revealed condition in a 1986 interview with The New York Times after she had recovered from it by altering her diet and seeing a psychologist

1975

Created signature role of Cassie, a chorus dancer who had enjoyed some success as a featured player and is now back on the audition circuit, in the long-running, award-winning "A Chorus Line"; won Tony Award

1974

Portrayed the Rose in the film version of "The Little Prince", directed by Stanley Donen

1973

Appeared in and choreographed the one-night only benefit production "Sondheim: A Musical Tribute"

1972

London stage debut reprising Kathy in "Company"

1970

Co-starred as Ivy Smith ("Miss Turnstiles") in a revival of "On the Town", featuring Bernadette Peters, Phyllis Newman and Remark Ramsay

1969

Played Kathy in the Stephen Sondheim-George Furth musical "Company"; had featured solo "Tick Tock" choreographed by Bennett; also appeared in Los Angeles production

1968

Had recurring role on the popular Gothic ABC daytime serial "Dark Shadows"

1968

Had featured role in the short-lived George Abbott-directed musical "The Education of H*Y*M*A*N K*A*P*L*A*N"

1968

Was a featured dancer in the hit musical "Promises, Promises", choreographed by Bennett; was one of a trio of dancers featured in the Act One closing number "Turkey Lurkey Time"

1967

Appeared on "Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In"

1966

Hired by choreographer Bennett as a chorus dancer for the musical "A Joyful Noise"; fired when Dore Schary replaced the original director during the out-of-town tryout

1965

Credited as choreography assistant on the feature "Billie", starring Patty Duke

1963

Toured as Philia in "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum"

1961

Broadway debut as dancer in "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying"; first experience working with Bob Fosse (who choreographed) and Gwen Verdon (who served as dance captain)

Appeared in holiday stage shows at Radio City Music Hall in NYC

Played Phyllis Stone in a BBC radio production of "Follies"

Performed in "Can-Can" in London between gigs as Annie Oakley

Debuted one-person stage show "Inside the Music"

Toured as a chorus dancer in "West Side Story"

Played Annie Oakley in "Annie Get Your Gun"; performed in California and in Florida

Toured in "Call Me Madam", starring Ethel Merman; played the Princess

Raised in Detroit, Michigan

Assisted Bob Avian and Michael Bennett in taping dancers' recollections and stories that would eventually form the basis for "A Chorus Line"

Was a regular dancer on "Hullaballo" (NBC); first meeting with Michael Bennett who was one of the male dancers on the show

Hired for the corps de ballet at American Ballet Theatre

Toured in and then co-starred on Broadway in stage musical version of "State Fair"

As a teenager, ran away from what she terms a "dysfunctional family" and moved to NYC to join the ballet

Had recurring role on the syndicated series "Fame"

Bonus Trivia

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Some sources list 1940 as the year of Ms. McKechnie's birth.

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In response to an query about the best advice she'd ever receieved, Donna McKechnie replied:"Bob Fosse told me never to compete with anybody else ... just yourself. Always ask yourself if you can do better and if you can, then do it and not just as a performer as a person also. Keep trying to be better in every way -- and then he said 'Save your Money!'" --From Playbill.com, September 1995.

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"I don't leap as high, and I don't do as many turns," she concedes, "but I'd like to think I've more than made up for that with the wisdom and experience I've gained along the way." --Donna McKechnie quoted in The Christian Science Monitor, March 9, 2001.

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