Carmen Cusack (born Denver, Colorado) is an American musical theater actress and singer, best known for playing Elphaba in the Chicago, National Tour and Melbourne productions of the hit musical Wicked.
Early life and career
Cusack attended the University of North Texas and graduated with a performing arts degree. She trained in opera, ballet, jazz and tap.
After completing university, she accepted a job on the MS Queen Elizabeth 2, which changed the course of her career. In Manchester, England, she had her breakthrough role as Christine Daae in The Phantom of the Opera. Soon after this, she made her West End debut as Fantine in Les Misérables. She also appeared in the original West End productions of The Secret Garden and Personals, and appeared in the Off-Broadway revival of Carrie: The Musical as the gym teacher, Ms. Gardner.
Cusack later returned to America, and on December 12, 2006, joined the Chicago production of Wicked as the standby for the lead role of Elphaba. Impressed with her portrayal of the character, the producers asked her to star in the lead role on the show's first national tour, beginning in October 2007. Her role as standby was taken over by Jennifer DiNoia.
She began performances on tour, replacing Victoria Matlock, on November 6, 2007. She starred alongside Katie Rose Clarke as Glinda. After spending one year on tour, she left on November 2, 2008, and was replaced by Donna Vivino, who had been her standby.
Cusack was next seen in the Melbourne production in Australia, as the temporary standby for Elphaba: Amanda Harrison had taken a break from the show due to illness, and the standby, Jemma Rix, had been given the lead role. Cusack was with the company from June 10 to July 10, 2009. She left to begin rehearsals for South Pacific.
In 2009, Cusack played Nellie Forbush in the first national tour of South Pacific. Based on the 2008 Broadway revival, performances began September 18, 2009 in San Francisco. For this role Cusack was nominated for the Helen Hayes Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Non Resident Production.
In 2012, she played the role of Miss Gardner in the Off-Broadway revival of Carrie - The Musical, which began performances at the Lucille Lortel Theatre on January 31, 2012. Carrie played a limited run until April 8, 2012.
Cusack appears in the production of the new musical based on the film The First Wives Club, beginning in February 2015. The musical runs at the Oriental Theatre, Chicago, Illinois. Cusack plays the role of Annie.
- Hetrick, Adam. Wicked Tour Has New Leading Witches" playbill.com, November 12, 2007
- " 'South Pacific' Tour" broadwayworld.com, July 23, 2009
- "Gavin Lee, Arena's Oklahoma!, Signature's Sycamore Trees, Phylicia Rashad Are Helen Hayes Nominees in DC" playbill.com
- "MCC Theater Announces Complete Cast for Revamped Revival of 'Carrie' " playbill.com
- Hetrick, Adam. " 'Carrie' Dies Sooner Than Expected; Revival to Close April 8 Off-Broadway" playbill.com, March 23, 2012
- Jason Danieley, Carmen Cusack to Lead Chicago Shakespeare Theater's SUNDAY IN THE PARK WITH GEORGE broadwayworld.com, August 8, 2012
- "Photo Flash: Jason Danieley, Carmen Cusack and CST's SUNDAY IN THE PARK WITH GEORGE Perform at Art Institute of Chicago!" broadwayworld.com, September 17, 2012
- Houlihan, Mary. " 'First Wives Club' Musical Attacks "Dumb Girl Culture" With Motown Hits" playbill.com, February 19, 2015