Audra McDonald headlines TCC’s Rhapsody gala

RICH LOPEZ | Staff writer

Honestly this interview could have simply been the following:

Dallas Voice: Oh my god, Audra McDonald!

Mike: I know right!!

Sean: Oh my gosh, Audra!

And repeat.

Audra McDonald is a true legend of the stage. The actor who has won the most Tony Awards ever — as well as a few Grammys and Emmys thrown in — will come to Dallas to headline the Turtle Creek Chorale’s Rhapsody gala this Saturday, March 5, at the Meyerson Symphony Center. The fundraiser benefits the TCC as well as the Black Theatre United, a nonprofit organization McDonald helped found that works toward racial equity and social justice work within the theater community.

Saturday’s gala marks the organization’s second after its 2019 inaugural event with Idina Menzel. (OMG, Idina!)

“We’ve grown since we created this two years ago for our 40th anniversary,” said Mike Dilbeck, TCC’s director of marketing and development.

“And we’re doing this along the lines that our brand reflects.”

The gala is Dilbeck’s baby, and his goal was to create an upscale fundraising event. After 40 years, why not?

But in the beginning, there was some navigation to handle.

“Black Tie Dinner is so great and respected, and we didn’t want to compete with that. We wanted to offer something different. And, being a performing arts organization, we have no speeches or awards. It’s strictly entertainment.”

The event not only helps TCC with its operational budget, it also helps the chorale extend its musical outreach and educational programs. And it gives TCC a bit more exposure to those who may not be too familiar with the organization but who love them some Broadway divas.

“Performers like Audra and Idina will bring those people in, and then they see the chorale as well,” he said.

The chorale will perform prior to McDonald’s concert, an aspect of the evening that actually makes TCC artistic director Sean Baugh a little anxious.

“She is just the goddess of the stage. She and Dolly are my two vocal heroes,” he said of McDonald. “I am nervous. I’ll have to write down what I’m going to say, or I may make a total fool of myself.”

Baugh added that the TCC singers are filled with excitement about the night.

He also gives Dilbeck all the props for the Rhapsody gala: “I have to give him all the credit. I have a practical side, and he’s the dreamer and the doer,” Baugh said. “I didn’t believe we could get Idina or pull this together. He did.”

Bringing in those new audiences will hopefully lead to new subscribers, ticket buyers and potentially donors and corporate sponsors. But a gala also elevates the TCC profile to a level where Dallas mostly sees the Dallas Opera or the Dallas Symphony Orchestra. In fact, while Dilbeck mentioned Black Tie Dinner, it was the DSO gala that inspired this year’s Rhapsody.

“Their gala is dinner in the lobby and the concert in the hall. I thought ‘Why reinvent the wheel? We’ll do it like DSO does.’ And I reached out to the Meyerson. They have been such amazing partners in all this.”

An added plus to the night is that a portion of the night’s proceeds benefits Black Theatre United, which also speaks to TCC’s commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion. Baugh stated that this season has been dedicated to those issues of race and equity. Upcoming concerts such as July’s Let Us March On will address those topics.

“People need to know that we’re going through this journey together,” he said.

The journey that begins on Saturday with Rhapsody that will also bring attention to Black Theatre United with McDonald.

“Our missions align together, and the gala is our demonstration of that ongoing commitment,” Dilbeck said. “She has been unbelievably gracious about all this, and the honor to raise money for them also is pretty amazing.”

Tickets are still available for the 8:30 p.m. concert only. Concert tickets include admission to the after party. Visit for more information and to purchase.