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Audra McDonald Stars In ‘Ohio State Murders’: Now On Broadway

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Tony winner and Hollywood actress Audra McDonald stars in the new Broadway play Ohio State Murders. Written by playwright Adrienne Kennedy, the show began previews on November 11. It officially opened on December 8 at the James Earl Jones Theatre.

Ohio State Murders follows writer Suzanne Alexander, a semi-autobiographical character of Kennedy

Audra McDonald plays Suzanne Alexander, a famous writer asked to return to her alma mater to give a lecture around the topics of violence. She eventually shares her horrifying experiences as a student at the college, in the early 1950s, that had predominantly white students, and interracial relationship that led to violence.

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The remaining cast includes Bryce Pinkham as Robert Hampshire, Lizan Mitchell as Mrs. Tyler/Miss Dawson/Aunt Louise, Mister Fitzgerald as David Alexander/Val, and Abigail Stephenson as Iris Ann. Direction is by Kenny Leon, with scenic design by Allen Lee Hughes, costume design by Dede Ayite, sound design by Justin Ellington, and projection design by Jeff Sugg.

At 91-years-old, this is Adrienne Kennedy’s first play to head to Broadway

Kennedy has many works. They include Funnyhouse of a NegroJune and Jean in Concert, and co-writer of Sleep Deprivation with her son Adam Kennedy. However, none of them have taken the Broadway stage.

“She [Kennedy] is such an incredible playwright: for her narrative style, the material that she uses, and the stories that she tells.” Audra McDonald shared with Playbill. “I just felt like, ‘This isn’t right. We have to fix this. She deserves to have a Broadway debut.'”

This is not the first time Audra McDonald has taken a heroine facing grief and tragedy

McDonald has risen to the challenge of characters like Billie Holiday in Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grille, and a working New York woman named Sarah in Ragtime.

Suzanne Alexander adds to the long list of emotionally taxing female characters. In an interview with Playbill, McDonald shares her process on how she prepares for these kinds of roles.

“I get to the theatre early enough that I can allow myself and my spirit to open up and get out of the way so that this character can tell her truth and tell her story, and I give my spirit to that while I’m at the theatre. When I’m done, I make a habit of saying, ‘Thank you’ to the character, to letting me be that vessel. And then I say goodnight to it, and I leave it there.”

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Ohio State Murders runs until February 12, 2023.

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