André De Shields (b. Baltimore, MD, 12 January 1946) has worked off-Broadway, on Broadway, and beyond Broadway as an actor, director, singer, dancer, lyricist, composer and choreographer. While his first appearances on Broadway were in such short-lived productions as Warp (1973) and Rachael Lily Rosenbloom and Don’t You Ever Forget It (1973, never escaped previews), André De Shields made his mark with his first starring part in the title role of The Wiz, the 1975 Broadway musical by Charlie Smalls and William F. Brown, directed by Geoffrey Holder.
After providing choreography for two Bette Midler musical shows, De Shields returned to Broadway to perform in the highly acclaimed and commercially successful musical revue, Ain’t Misbehavin’: The New Fats Waller Musical Show, in 1978. The original production ran for more than 1600 shows, and André De Shields earned a 1978 Drama Desk nomination for his performance.
In 1984, De Shields wrote, choreographed, directed, and starred in André De Shields’ Harlem Nocturne, a Broadway musical revue that featured standards from the American songbook, pop hits from the early 1960s and songs by De Shields himself.
Three years later, he returned to Broadway to perform in Stardust: The Mitchell Parrish Musical, a musical revue featuring the lyricist’s work with Hoagy Carmichael, Benny Goodman, Duke Ellington, and Leroy Anderson. After a revival of Ain’t Misbehavin’ in 1988, André De Shields was absent from Broadway until his return in 1997 as the Jester in Play On!, a musical based on the songs of Duke Ellington. De Shields earned nominations for both a Tony® and a Drama Desk Award for his performance.
De Shields originated the role of Noah “Horse” T. Simmons in the McNally / Yazbek musical adaptation of the film, The Full Monty. As with Play On!, De Shields garnered Tony® and Drama Desk nominations for his portrayal.
In 2008, André De Shields received a Drama Desk Award nomination for his performance in an off-Broadway production of Langston Hughes’ popular Black Nativity.
Outside of musicals, André De Shields has appeared in film and on television as well as in stage plays. Along with appearances on Law & Order, Sex and the City, and Cosby, De Shields played Tweedledum in a 1983 televised production of Alice in Wonderland that also included Eve Arden, Richard Burton, Colleen Dewhurst, James Coco, Kaye Ballard, and Nathan Lane.