October 11, 1948 |
Judy Kaye (born October 11, 1948) is a Tony Award–winning American singer and actress. She has appeared in stage musicals, plays, and operas. Kaye has been in long runs on Broadway in the musicals The Phantom of the Opera, Ragtime, Mamma Mia!, and Nice Work If You Can Get It.
Life and career
Kaye was born in Phoenix, Arizona, the daughter of Shirley Edith (née Silverman) and Jerome Joseph Kaye, a physician. She attended UCLA, studying drama and voice. "Her voice spans three octaves. She started out as a mezzo and now sings all the way up to an E natural...but basically she feels she is now a soprano." She "easily shifts between Broadway belt and soaring soprano" according to Playbill.com.
Kaye made her Broadway debut as a replacement "Betty Rizzo" in the original company of Grease in the 1970s. Her next show was the Broadway musical On the Twentieth Century (1978), playing only the small role of the maid Agnes, and also the understudy for leading lady Madeline Kahn. Kahn left the show early in the run, and Kaye took over the lead role. The New York Times reported "Judy Kaye replaced Madeline Kahn...and bang, boom, overnight she is a star." Kaye also toured the US in the musical.
Her next two Broadway ventures flopped. The Moony Shapiro Songbook (1981), a campy spoof of songwriter-based revues like Side by Side by Sondheim and Ain't Misbehavin', closed after fifteen previews and one official performance. Frank Rich, in his New York Times review, wrote "Two members of the company suggest what might have been - Judy Kaye, a skilled musical-comedy comedienne who sings a pretty ballad at a white piano." In November 1981 Oh, Brother!, which transplanted William Shakespeare's The Comedy of Errors to the Middle East, closed after thirteen previews and three official performances. Frank Rich's New York Times review noted that "Judy Kaye, while getting campier each time out, remains a big belter with a sure comic sense."
In 1988, Kaye returned to Broadway as Carlotta Giudicelli in The Phantom of the Opera, singing coloratura Ds and Es eight shows a week. She won the 1988 Tony Award, Best Featured Actress in a Musical for this role.
It was nearly a decade before her next Broadway role, appearing as Emma Goldman in Ragtime from 1997-2000. (She was the only principal to remain with that show for its entire run.) Next, she appeared as "Rosie" in Mamma Mia! in 2001-2003, and received a Tony Award nomination as Best Featured Actress in a Musical.
Kaye has performed extensively in various theatrical venues, in roles as widely varied as both Julie Jordan and Nettie Fowler in Carousel, Annie Oakley in Annie Get Your Gun, Nellie Forbush in South Pacific, Meg in Brigadoon, Hildy in On the Town, Lalume in Kismet, Lili Vanessi in Kiss Me, Kate, Pistache in Can-Can, Babe Williams in The Pajama Game, the Old Lady in Candide, Maria in The Sound of Music, Rose in Gypsy, Anna in The Anastasia Game, Aldonza in Man of La Mancha, Lucy in You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown, Sally in Follies (1995, Theatre Under the Stars), Mary Magdalene in Jesus Christ Superstar.
Kaye's non-musical roles have included such classics as The Man Who Came to Dinner and You Can't Take It with You (1996, Connecticut Repertory Theatre, Storrs). In 1996 she performed in The Royal Family at the McCarter Theater in Princeton, New Jersey as Kitty Dean. She appeared in Lost in Yonkers in 2011 as Grandma Kurnitz at the Arizona Theatre Company, Phoenix, Arizona.
Kaye appeared in Stephen Temperley's Souvenir, and "drew raves for her humorous, yet touching work" with her impersonation of the legendarily frightful singer Florence Foster Jenkins. The play originally ran Off-Broadway in December 2004-January 2005, with great success; after a summer run in the Berkshires, it ran on Broadway October 2005 - January 2006, and she has since performed it in several venues in the United States. Ben Brantley, in his New York Times review, wrote: "Ms. Kaye strikes that single note of personality with a happy mixture of ardor, unblinking obliviousness and ...pitch-perfect period detail."
In June 2006, Kaye assumed the role of Mrs. Lovett in Sweeney Todd on Broadway for one week during Patti LuPone's vacation. She returned in August 2006, when LuPone left for a week to play "Rose" in Gypsy. She went on to play Mrs. Lovett in the 2007–2008 Canada and U.S. National Tour of Sweeney Todd. The Curtain Up review of that tour in Los Angeles praised Kaye, stating: "There's humor in this production...Much of that is due to Kaye's impeccable timing, the delicacy of her yearning and her way with a tuba." Kaye had previously played Mrs. Lovett in the Papermill Playhouse production of Sweeney in 1991. The New York Times reviewer wrote of her performance "it's going to be tough to come up with a Todd and a Mrs. Lovett comparable to George Hearn and Judy Kaye...Ms. Kaye's voluptuous voice taps and illuminates musical treasures. The ribaldry, seductiveness and wit of her performance appear thoroughly rooted in Mrs. Lovett's love for Todd."
The new musical Paradise Found featured Kaye in a production co-directed by Harold Prince and Susan Stroman at the Menier Chocolate Factory in London (May 19 - June 26, 2010). She appeared in the new musical adaption of Tales of the City at the American Conservatory Theatre, San Francisco, California, from May 2011 through July 2011, as Anna Madrigal.
She appeared in the new musical, Nice Work If You Can Get It, which opened on Broadway on April 24, 2012. She received a Tony Award nomination, Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Musical, and won the Drama Desk Award, Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical and Outer Critics Circle Award, Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical. She won the 2012 Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Musical.
- Opera, operetta, and recordings
She has performed frequently in opera and operetta, including leading roles in: The Beggar's Opera, Orpheus in the Underworld, Leave It to Jane, Oh, Lady! Lady!!, The Cat and the Fiddle, and Trouble in Tahiti. She appeared in concert at The Town Hall, New York, in Eileen, Sweethearts (1983) and Sweet Adeline (1985). In August 1990 she played the role of Musetta in the Santa Fe Opera production of La Bohème. She debuted the role of Abbie in the premiere of Edward Thomas' musical version of Desire Under the Elms, presented by the New York Opera Repertory Theater in 1989. She performed the title role in The Merry Widow at the Papermill Playhouse (Millburn, New Jersey in 1991. She has appeared with opera companies and orchestras such as the Santa Fe Opera (1985 and 1990), the New York City Opera (1989), the New York Philharmonic (1990), the Boston Pops Orchestra (1990), and the London Symphony Orchestra (1990).
She has made several recordings, including Where, Oh, Where?:Rare Songs of the American Theater (Premier), Diva to Diva (Varèse Sarabande), which focus on musical theater and "great musical theatre women", and Judy Kaye:Songs From The Silver Screen (Varèse Sarabande), saluting women singing in movie musicals. Two other CDs partner her with the baritone William Sharp, one an all-George Gershwin program, the other all-Leonard Bernstein; the latter includes the world-premiere recording of his Arias and Barcarolles.
Kaye is featured on six tracks of John McGlinn's EMI disc Broadway Showstoppers, four of them numbers from Jerome Kern's Sweet Adeline (including the classic ballad "Why Was I Born?") and one a first-ever recording of the "Duet for One (The First Lady of the Land)", the tour-de-force from Leonard Bernstein and Alan Jay Lerner's 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. She also was featured on the 1997 Varèse Sarabande studio recording of the 1965 musical Drat! The Cat!.
- Kinsey Millhone books
- Flatow, Sheryl.Broadways Favorite Diva" judykaye.com (reprint from Playbill.com), accessed March 19, 2011
- Lopinto, Maryann."Meet Judy Kaye - The Phantom's Diva" judykaye.com (reprint from Show Music Magazine), accessed March 19, 2011
- Gans, Andrew."Diva Talk:Chatting with Souvenir Star Judy Kaye, Alice Ripley On High and News of Cook and Moore" Playbill.com, December 17, 2004
- Corry, John. New York Times, May 5, 1978, p. C2
- Gromberg, Alan."Spotlight on Judy Kaye", talkinbroadway.com, accessed March 10, 2009
- Rich, Frank."Theater:'Moony Shapiro Songbook' The New York Times, May 4, 1981
- "'Oh, Brother! Listing" Internet Broadway Database, accessed March 19, 2011
- Rich, Frank."The Stage: 'Oh, Brother!,' A Musical'" The New York Times, November 11, 1981
- Rich, Frank. "Stage: 'Phantom of the Opera'" The New York Times, January 27, 1988
- 1988 "Tony Awards" infoplease.com, accessed March 19, 2011
- Brantley, Ben. "THeater Review: 'Ragtime': A Diorama With Nostalgia Rampant" The New York Times, January 19, 1998
- Jones, Kenneth."Broadway Ragtime Closing January 16; National Tour Journeys On" Playbill.com, January 14, 2000
- "'Mamma Mia!' Listing" Internet Broadway Database, accessed March 19, 2011
- Gans, Andrew."Tony Winner Judy Kaye to Depart 'Mamma Mia!' in October" Playbill.com, June 25, 2003
- "1995 Theater Under the Stars Production" sondheimguide.com, accessed March 20, 2011
- Judy Kaye biography filmreference.com, accessed March 10, 2009
- Ridley, Clifford A."A `Royal Family' That's Slightly Mismatched" philly.com, October 4, 1996
- Bio arizonatheatre.org, accessed March 20, 2011
- Gans, Andrew."DIVA TALK: Catching Up with Souvenir's Judy Kaye Plus News of Streisand and Stritch", playbill.com, November 2005
- Gans, Andrew."Tony Winner Kaye Reprises Role of Off-Key Singer in A.C.T.'s Souvenir Starting Feb. 13", playbill.com, February 13, 2009
- Brantley, Ben."A Mighty Squeal From a Big Heart",The New York Times, November 11, 2005.
- (no author). "Kaye cues up for 'Sweeney'" Daily Variety, May 19, 2006, Vol. 291, No. 35, p. 2
- Osborne, Robert. "Rambling Reporter", VNU Entertainment News Wire (The Hollywood Reporter), August 8, 2006
- Lipton, Brian."Judy Kaye and David Hess to Star in Sweeney Todd Tour", theatermania.com, May 7, 2007
- Hernandez, Ernio."Slice of Life: Judy Kaye and Company Begin Sweeney Todd Pre-Tour SF Stint, Aug. 30", playbill.com, August 30, 2007
- Hitchcock, Laura."Review"Sweeney Todd Goes West", curtainup.com, March 12, 2008
- Klein, Alvin.'Sweeney Todd,' in All Its Musical Power" The New York Times, November 15, 1991
- Hetrick, Adam." 'Tales of the City' 'Bites Into That Lotus' As New Musical Opens in San Francisco May 31" playbill.com, May 31, 2011
- McGrath, Charles. "Ferris Bueller’s Nights Onstage" The New York Times, April 5, 2012
- Jones, Kenneth and Hetrick, Adam.2012 "Tony Awards Nominations Announced; 'Once' Earns 11 Nominations". Playbill.com, May 1, 2012
- Gans, Andrew."'Once', 'Tribes', 'Follies', 'Salesman', Audra McDonald, Danny Burstein and More Are Drama Desk Winners" playbill.com, June 3, 2012
- Gans, Andrew."Outer Critics Circle Winners Announced; 'Once' and 'One Man, Two Guvnors' Are Top Winners" playbill.com, May 14, 2012
- Jones, Kenneth. " 'Once', 'Clybourne Park', 'Porgy and Bess', Audra McDonald, Salesman Win 2012 Tony Awards" playbill.com, June 10, 2012
- Wilson, John."Operetta 'Sweethearts' At Town Hall" The New York Times, December 17, 1983
- Wilson, John."Music: Kern's 'Adeline' Is Revived" The New York Times, May 24, 1985
- Henahan, Donal. "Review/Opera;'Boheme' Artists Who Look the Part", The New York Times, August 4, 1990, p.13
- Rothstein, Mervyn.O'Neill Centenary: Celebrating the Master" The New York Times, October 13, 1988
- Klein, Alvin."Theater: Nonstop Gaiety in 'Merry Widow'" The New York Times, April 28, 1991
- Mandelbaum, Ken.Ken Mandelbaum's MUSICALS ON DISC: A Varese Sarabande Trio" Playbill.com, April 9, 1998
- Reference for Bernstein Arias and Barcarolles, Songs and Duets: Stabler, David. "Kaye Shines In Bernstein Song Cycle; Record Reviews", The Oregonian (Portland, Oregon), May 5, 1990, p.C10
- Edwards, Adrian."Review" gramophone.net, August 1993
- Mandelbaum, Ken."Ken Mandelbaum's Musicals On Disc: Beast, Drat!, Sunset, etc." Playbill.com, September 14, 1997
- Books Read by Judy Kaye" library.booksontape.com, accessed arch 20, 2011
- Judy Kaye at the Internet Broadway Database
- Judy Kaye at the Internet Movie Database
- Judy Kaye - Downstage Center interview at the American Theatre Wing