Actor, singer, musician, songwriter, director and busy music producer Donnie Kehr has played featured roles in such landmark musicals as The Mystery of Edwin Drood,
The Who’s ‘Tommy’, Billy Elliot: The Musical and Jersey Boys.
In 2004, Donnie created the role of “Gyp De Carlo” in the groundbreaking La Jolla Playhouse production of Jersey Boys and was the first to play “Norm Waxman” in the Tony Award-winning Broadway production. Now playing Waxman on screen, Donnie is the only star from the original La Jolla production to play a major role in Clint Eastwood’s 2014 film, which also stars Christopher Walken (as “DeCarlo”) and John Lloyd Young (“Frankie Valli”) from the Broadway production. In the past decade has appeared in the acclaimed musical more than 1,000 times.
20 Years of Giving Back
Donnie also created the role of “1st Pinball Lad” in the Broadway production of The Who’s Tommy for Director Des McAnuff and rock legend Pete Townshend. This eventful collaboration led to “Rockers On Broadway,” an innovative fundraiser that celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2013. Rockers has become a much-anticipated annual event, earning more than $300,000 for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, The Broadway Dreams Foundation and other nonprofits that support arts education.
Rockers’ long-term success led its creator to cofound The PATH Fund, Inc., a 501(c) 3 nonprofit dedicated to supporting arts education for young performers. He serves as Executive Director and President of the foundation’s board of directors.
A Kid on Broadway leads to a Long Career
The son of a ballerina and musician, Donnie grew up in a talented family, dividing his time between performing onstage and studying music, eventually mastering piano, guitar, drums and bass. He also attended The School of American Ballet with a full scholarship.
He made his Broadway debut at 12, co-starring with F. Murray Abraham in Legend (1976). At 21, he originated the role of “Marcus Macauley” in Joseph Papp’s musical adaptation of William Saroyan’s The Human Comedy (1984), first at The New York Shakespeare Festival and then on Broadway.
On Broadway, Donnie appeared in Elton John and Tim Rice’s Aida, co-starring with Toni Braxton. In his second Elton John show, he played the “Scab and Posh Dad” in the original Broadway company of Billy Elliot: The Musical.
Donnie also, performed in national tours of West Side Story, and 1992’s George M. with star Joel Grey. He also has toured with the 1st National production of Jersey Boys reprising his role of “Gyp DeCarlo”.
Recording, Directing and Producing
In the 1980s, Donnie formed the EMI-Manhattan Records band Urgent with his brothers Michael and Steven, reaching the top 100 on Billboard’s pop charts. In 2005, he released “Shift,” a solo CD featuring 10 original songs. (Available at CDBABY.com)
In the past few years, he has branched out into music production through New York-based Good-to-Go Studios. One of his recent projects was “Comfortable,” a well-reviewed CD for good friend Tituss Burgess (The Little Mermaid, 30 Rock). Currently he’s producing an EP for rising teen star Megan Rice.
Donnie also has been directing live concerts and theater for many years. His work includes each edition of “Rockers On Broadway,” most notably the elaborate 15th Anniversary Reunion Concert of The Who’s Tommy – featuring the entire original cast. Other notable events were: The Opening Ceremonies for the 2009 JCC Maccabi Games at Madison Square Garden and the finale performance at the 2011 UN Women Launch Event in the UN General Assembly Hall, and 2013’s Motel Rasdell, winner of “Best Musical” at The Midtown International Theatre Festival.
Films and Touring
In addition to Jersey Boys, Donnie’s high-profile film credits included John Sayles’ Baby, It’s You (1983); Sir Richard Attenborough’s Chaplin (1992), with Robert Downey, Jr., and Oliver Stone’s Wall Street (1987), with Michael Douglas and Charlie Sheen.