The acclaimed Baltimore-born actor Andre De Shields received his third career nomination Tuesday for an Antoinette Perry (Tony) Award.
De Shields was nominated for best featured actor in a musical for his performance as the god Hermes. He narrates much of the action of “Hadestown,” a retelling of the Greek myth of the lyre player Orpehus’ doomed journey to the underworld in search of his wife, Eurydice. Nominations were announced Tuesday; winners will be announced June 9 at the 73rd annual awards ceremony in New York.
The 73-year-old De Shields, who grew up on Division Street in West Baltimore as the ninth of eleven children, is celebrating his 50th year on the stage. He has been nominated twice previously for Tony Awards (though did not win) — for his performance as The Jester in the 1997 Broadway production of “Play On!” the musical based on the songs of Duke Ellington, and for creating the role of Noah “Horse” Simmons for the 2000 production of “The Full Monty.”
In 2007, De Shields picked up a prestigious Obie (Off-Broadway) Award for sustained excellence in performance.
The actor told Sun reporter Tim Smith in 2015 that growing up near Pennsylvania Avenue in the mid-20th century (at the time the culture center of Baltimore’s vibrant African American community) was transformative.
"The Royal Theater — to me, it was a cathedral — was where I would go for my window on the world," De Shields said. "I was blown away as a 9-year-old seeing [the movie] 'Cabin in the Sky' there. That little voice in the core of one's existence, the little voice we ignore most of the time, said to me, 'Andre, that's what you're going to do.' I’m the one in the family who apparently was chosen to make manifest the dreams of our parents, who wanted to be performers."