Though she wanted to be a ballerina, Donna McKechnie first became involved in musical theater playing summer stock in Framingham, Massachusetts in the late 1950s. After joining the touring production of West Side Story, McKechnie made her Broadway debut as a dancer in Frank Loesser’s How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying in 1961. After several years of performing as a featured dancer on NBC’s music series Hullabaloo, McKechnie returned to Broadway to play Kathy McKenna in 1968 in Oscar Brand and Paul Nassau’s short-lived musical, The Education of H*Y*M*A*N K*A*P*L*A*N. Later that year, she played Vivien Della Hoya in Burt Bacharach and Hal David’s Promises, Promises, and garnered acclaim for her singing as well as her dancing in the showstopping number, “Turkey Lurkey Time.”
In 1970, Donna McKechnie played Kathy in the original Broadway production of Stephen Sondheim’s Company, leaving the show in 1971 to play her first starring role as Ivy Smith in the revival of Bernstein/Comden/Greene musical On the Town.
McKechnie will probably always be remembered for her role as Cassie in A Chorus Line in 1975, for which she won a Tony® for Best Actress in a Musical as well as a Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Actress in a Musical.
For a number of years afterward, McKechnie worked on television, before returning to Broadway to appear in the 1996 staging of Rodger and Hammerstein’s State Fair. She earned a Drama Desk Award nomination for her portrayal of Emily Arden.