Listen: How Audra McDonald Faced Her Fear in ‘Frankie and Johnny’

When producers offered Audra McDonald a role in “Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune” opposite Michael Shannon, she immediately said yes. Then she remembered the nude scene.

Listen to this week’s podcast below:

“Hell, yes, there was trepidation,” the Tony-winning actress said on the new episode of Stagecraft, Variety’s theater podcast. “I was scared, and the more afraid I got, the more I realized I have to do it.”

The play opens mid-coitus, and its two actors appear nude more than once. Both McDonald and Shannon got comfortable with the help of an intimacy director — the first ever employed on a Broadway show — to choreograph the production’s explicit moments.

“I think intimacy directors need to be a thing forever and ever now,” McDonald said. “Because before [during on-stage love scenes] you were just sort of fumbling around and not really knowing where the boundaries are, and the director is not really getting that specific with you. So it was always just up to the actors to figure it out, but with no communication, so you have no idea of knowing: ‘Are you comfortable?  Are you not comfortable?’ … All of that stuff, that’s all eliminated with an intimacy director.”

She continued, “An intimacy director helps put it all in its safe space and keep it there. Especially in this era of #MeToo, it’s a really great way of moving forward in that arena and protecting everybody.”

Also on the new episode of Stagecraft, McDonald talked about her plum role in CBS All Access’ “The Good Fight,” the critically praised spinoff of “The Good Wife.”  She also talked Broadway diversity, TV versus stage, and why she calls Shannon “The Rev.”

New episodes of “Stagecraft” are available every Tuesday. Download and subscribe to “Stagecraft” on Apple PodcastsStitcher or anywhere finer podcasts are dispensed. Find past episodes here and on Apple Podcasts.

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