Baltimore’s theatre lights were shining a little brighter Sunday when native son André De Shields won a Tony Award for the role of Hermes in the acclaimed production, “Hadestown.” Hermes is the narrator of the show which adapts the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice to a Great-Depression era inspired post-apocalyptic setting.
Born in Baltimore in 1946, André De Shields after graduating from Baltimore City College attended Wilmington College where he starred in a production of Lorraine Hansberry’s “Raisin in the Sun.” He then received his B.A. from University of Wisconsin-Madison and a Master of Arts from the prestigious New York University’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study. He now serves there as an adjunct professor.
He began his career in Chicago in a production of “Hair.” De Shields then worked off-Broadway including work at the famous La MaMa Experimental Theatre Club where he acted, directed and co-wrote an evening of songs called “Judith and the Cohen Sisters in Midnight in Manhattan.” He continued to act, direct and write there including another original work, “Saint Tous.”
He made his Broadway debut in 1973 in “Warp!’ He then was cast in the title role of “The Wiz.” He continued to act, direct and write, also adding choreography to his repertoire.
De Shields then appeared in numerous Broadway and regional productions, including, “Ain’t Misbehavin’,” “Play On” (nominated for Tony for Best Featured Actor in a Musical), the stage musical adaption of “The Full Monty” (nominated again for Tony for Best Featured Actor in a Musical) and presently, the Tony Award winning “Hadestown,” He finally was awarded for the latter, winning the Tony Award for Best Featured Actor in a Musical. When he received his award, he paid homage to his hometown saying, “Baltimore, Maryland are you in the house? I hope you’re watching at home because I am making good on my promise that I would come to New York and become someone you’d be proud to call your native son.”
André De Shields, we in the Baltimore Theatre Community were watching, and you are someone we were always proud to call our own. Winning the Tony just made us “pop our button” with pride. We at Maryland Theatre Guide send you our congratulations for getting the recognition you so richly deserve.
Further, DeShields has won a huge list of awards and nominations including a Prime Time Emmy for “Ain’t Misbehavin’, Obie Award for Sustained Excellence of Performance, National Black Theatre Festival’s Living Legend Award, Bistro Awards-Bob Harrington Lifetime Achievement Award, Jeff Award for “Jungle Book” and dozens more. He has also appeared on several television shows filmed in New York.
Maryland Theatre Guide’s Elliot Lanes interviewed DeShields on September 25, 2013, while he was appearing in “The Jungle Book.” If you are interested in what he had to say then, go to https://mdtheatreguide.com/2013/09/a-quick-5-with-andre-deshields/
If you want to see DeShields in “Hadestown,” you can order tickets from several venues including Ticketmaster.