May 20, 1958 |
New York City, New York, U.S.
|Years active||1981 - current|
|Website||Judy Kuhn's Official Website|
After graduating from the Oberlin Conservatory of Music, Kuhn made her professional stage debut in 1981 and her Broadway debut in 1985, in the original production of the musical The Mystery of Edwin Drood.
Other performances in musicals include her Tony nominated role as Cosette in the 1987 Broadway production of Les Miserables, her Tony nominated role as Florence Vassy in the 1988 Broadway production of Chess, her Olivier nominated role as Maria/Futura in the 1989 original production of Metropolis in the West End, her Tony nominated role as Amalia Balash in the 1993 Broadway revival of She Loves Me, Betty Schaeffer in the 1993 US premier production of Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles, and as Emmie in the 2001 off-Broadway production of Eli's Comin, which won her an Obie Award.
She has released three studio albums, Just in Time: Judy Kuhn Sings Jule Styne (1995), Serious Playground: The Songs of Laura Nyro (2007) and All This Happiness (2013). She has also participated in several cast recordings and sang the song "Colors of the Wind" on the hit soundtrack of the 1995 film Pocahontas, which won its composers the Academy Award for Best Original Song.
She entered Oberlin College in 1976. Although she was very interested in singing and theater, she began Oberlin in the College, not the Conservatory. After taking voice lessons with Frank Farina during her freshman year, Kuhn transferred into the conservatory for her sophomore year. Unlike most other Oberlin Conservatory vocal performance majors, Kuhn was also interested in musical theater and other types of music, in addition to classical music for which the Conservatory is best known. She trained as a classical soprano and graduated in 1981. After college, she moved to Boston, where she waited tables and studied acting.
Her Broadway debut was in Drood, a Rupert Holmes musical based on the unfinished Charles Dickens novel, in 1985. Her next appearance was in the ill-fated Rags, which closed after just four performances but managed to attract some Tony nominations. Her next role of Cosette in the 1987 multiple award winning Broadway production of Les Misérables brought her the first Tony Award nomination, as Best Featured Actress in a Musical (1987), and the Drama Desk Award (1987) nomination as Outstanding Featured Actress in A Musical.
Kuhn appeared in the Trevor Nunn-directed Chess, with music by Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus and lyrics by Tim Rice in the 1988 Broadway transfer from the West End, playing one of the main roles (Florence Vassy). Despite the show's success in London, Trevor Nunn decided to rework it for Broadway from a pop/rock opera as staged in London into a more conventional musical theater piece with a new book by Richard Nelson. As a result, the new show was greeted with mostly negative reviews and closed after less than a two-month run. Kuhn's performance in the musical, however, received unanimous praise from the critics. "Her beautiful pop-soprano voice is the show's chief pleasure. She acts the sympathetic, gutsy role with spirit and heart", wrote Variety. The Village Voice noted that "she pours a river of feeling and lush vocal tone into...the role". She garnered her second Tony Award nomination, this time as Best Actress in a Musical, and a Drama Desk Award nomination as Outstanding Actress in a Musical. In addition, The Original Broadway Cast recording of the musical was nominated for a Grammy Award.
She reprised her role of Florence Vassy later in 1988 in a Carnegie Hall concert performance with the rest of the Broadway cast, and in a 1989 concert version in Skellefteå, Sweden, during a chess World Cup final tournament, where she joined forces with Tommy Körberg and Murray Head, two principal actors from 1986 West End production of the musical.
Kuhn made her London debut in 1989, when she starred in the West End production of Metropolis, with Jeremy Kingston reviewing for the The Times (London) writing "I greatly enjoyed Kuhn's edgy, angular performance." She received an Olivier Award nomination as Best Actress in a Musical.
Kuhn's next major Broadway project, Two Shakespearean Actors (1992), despite a cast that included Brian Bedford, Frances Conroy, Hope Davis, Victor Garber, Laura Innes and Eric Stoltz, was again commercially unsuccessful, closing after 29 regular performances.
In 1993, Kuhn took part in the Roundabout Theater Company revival of She Loves Me, portraying Amalia Balash, a young Budapest shopgirl who is unaware that the co-worker she despises is the young man with whom she's been sharing an anonymous correspondence. Her performance earned her a third Tony Award nomination. The 1993 Broadway recording of this revival does not feature Kuhn, who left the production before the album was produced. Later in 1993, Kuhn played the role of Betty Schaefer in the U.S premiere production of Sunset Boulevard at the Shubert Theatre in Los Angeles. The L.A production recorded a cast album, which is the only unabridged cast recording of the show, the original London recording being cut by thirty minutes.
Regional theatre credits in the early 1990s include The Glass Menagerie at the McCarter Theatre in 1991 and Martin Guerre, at the Hartford Stage in 1993. Kuhn reprised her role as Cosette in 1995, for the 10th anniversary concert performance at the Royal Albert Hall in London, which was released on DVD as Les Miserables: The Dream Cast in Concert.
Kuhn appeared in the Broadway concert King David which was a 1997 Disney project with a book and lyrics by Tim Rice and music by Alan Menken and directed by Mike Ockrent. It played for a nine-performance limited run at the New Amsterdam Theatre.
Kuhn sang in the second annual benefit concert for The Actors' Fund of Funny Girl in September 2002 at the New Amsterdam theatre, with different actresses taking on the role of Fanny Brice. She sang "Who Are You Now?" and "People" of which Andrew Gans of Playbill wrote: she "provided an intense, moving, full-voiced 'People,' sensationally belting 'are the luckiest peeeeeeople (wow!) in the wooorld'."
Kuhn's Off-Broadway and regional theater credits in this period include: As Thousands Cheer (1998) Off-Broadway at the Drama Dept., Greenwich House Theater;Strike up the Band (1998) Off-Broadway Encores! Concerts at New York City Center; the title role in The Ballad of Little Jo (2000) at the Steppenwolf Theatre Company in Chicago; Eli's Comin (2001) Off-Broadway at the Vineyard Theatre Company (for which she won an Obie Award); The Highest Yellow (2004) at the Signature Theater in Virginia and Three Sisters (2005) at the Intiman Playhouse in Seattle.
On October 23, 2007, Kuhn returned to the Broadway production of Les Misérables after 20 years, but this time assuming the role of Fantine. She succeeded Lea Salonga and remained with the show until the revival ended on January 6, 2008.
Kuhn portrayed Fosca in the Off-Broadway Classic Stage Company revival of the Stephen Sondheim-James Lapine musical Passion from its opening in February 2013 through its scheduled closing in April 2013. Kuhn has previously played Fosca, in the Stephen Sondheim celebration production in 2002 at the Kennedy Center.
In 2013, Kuhn originated the role of Helen Bechdel in the off-Broadway Public Theater production of the musical Fun Home, which is began its run September 30, 2013 and opened officially on October 22, 2013. Originally scheduled to run through November 3, 2013, the run was extended multiple times and closed on January 12, 2014.
Film, recordings, concerts, teaching
Kuhn sang the title role in the 1995 Disney animated film, Pocahontas. The film's score won an Academy Award, and the soundtrack reached #1 on the Billboard 200, selling over 2.5 million copies. The film included Kuhn's rendition of the song Colors of the Wind, which won the Academy Award for Best Original Song and a Grammy award. Kuhn also sang as Pocahontas in the straight-to-video sequel Pocahontas II: Journey to a New World and in "If You Can Dream", a Disney Princess song. Kuhn briefly appeared in the film Long Time Since (1998) and supplied the vocals for the movie's soundtrack, which includes a rendition of Auld Lang Syne.
Kuhn has performed in concert at Carnegie Hall, Alice Tully Hall, and Avery Fisher Hall in Manhattan, and at the Royal Albert Hall in London. She has performed in a solo cabaret/nightclub act at, for example, Joe's Pub at the Public Theater in October 2007 and the Iridium in New York in January 2008. She performed her solo concert at Feinstein's at Loews Regency in March 2012.
Her first solo album Just in Time: Judy Kuhn sings Jule Styne was released on January 31, 1995. Kuhn's second solo album Serious Playground: The Songs of Laura Nyro was released on October 2, 2007. In 2013, she released her third album All This Happiness.
Kuhn also teaches a song interpretation class at Michael Howard Studios in New York City, where she studied earlier in her career. Andrew Gans of Playbill magazine says that Kuhn "possesses one of the richest and most exciting instruments around; it is also an extremely versatile and rangy voice" and that Kuhn has "remarkable interpretive skills".
Kuhn lives with her husband and daughter in New York City, USA.
- The Mystery of Edwin Drood (1985 Original Broadway Cast) - Grammy Award nomination
- Les Misérables (1987 Original Broadway Cast) - Grammy Award
- Chess (1988 Original Broadway Cast) - Grammy Award nomination
- Metropolis (1989 Original London Cast)
- Rags (1991 Cast Recording)
- Unsung Sondheim (1993)
- Sunset Boulevard (1994 Los Angeles Cast)
- Pocahontas (1995 Soundtrack)
- Just in Time: Judy Kuhn Sings Jule Styne (1995)
- Les Miserables - The Dream Cast in Concert (1995)
- Pocahontas II: Journey to a New World (1998 Soundtrack)
- As Thousands Cheer (1998 New York Revival Cast)
- Mulan II (2004)
- Disney's Princess Ultimate Collection as Pocahontas (2004)
- Serious Playground – The Songs of Laura Nyro (2007)
- Enchanted (2007)
- Passion (2013 Off-Broadway Cast)
- All This Happiness (2013)
- Fun Home (2014, original cast recording)
Note: The Grammy nominations are credited to the composers and producers and not the artists, the Grammy for Les Misérables was awarded to Claude-Michel Schönberg (composer and producer), Herbert Kretzmer (lyricist) and Alain Boublil (producer).
Awards and nominations
- 1987 Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Musical for Les Miserables - nominated
- 1987 Drama Desk Award for Best Featured Actress in a Musical for Les Miserables & Rags - nominated
- 1988 Tony Award Best Lead Actress in a Musical for Chess - nominated
- 1988 Drama Desk Award for Best Actress in a Musical for Chess - nominated
- 1989 Olivier Award for Best Actress in a Musical for Metropolis - nominated
- 1994 Tony Award for Best Leading Actress in a Musical for She Loves Me - nominated
- 2001 Obie Award for "Performance" for Eli's Comin' - won
- 2014 Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical for Fun Home - won
- Blau, Eleanor. "2 Musicals Lead Tony Nominations", The New York Times, May 12, 1987, Section C; Page 15, Column 4
- (no author). "'Me and My Girl' and 'Les Miserables' Top Nominations for Drama Desk Awards", The Associated Press, May 10, 1987, Domestic News
- "Reviews for the Broadway Production. 'Chess'. See Humm, Variety, 29 April 1988" quareone.org (webcache.googleusercontent.com), accessed January 2, 2014
- Kingston, Jeremy. "City of dreadful night; Review of 'Metropolis' at the Piccadilly Theatre", The Times (London), March 9, 1989, Issue 63337 (no page number)
- "Olivier Winners 1989-90", OlivierAwards.com, accessed July 3, 2012
- " Two Shakespearean Actors: Opening Night Cast", PlaybillVault.com, accessed July 4, 2012
- "Two Shakespearean Actors Listing", Internet Broadway Database, accessed July 4, 2012
- Brantley, Ben. "With Strobe Lights (but No Philistine Trophies), It's Disney's 'King David", The New York Times, May 20, 1997
- Gans, Andrew. "Diva Talk: The Gals of Funny Girl PLUS Diva News!", Playbill.com, September 27, 2002
- Canby, Vincent. "Theater; A Lost Theatrical Form Returns With a Smile", The New York Times, June 21, 1998
- Brantley, Ben. "Theater Review; Jingoism Parodied: Gershwins' War of '27", The New York Times, February 14, 1998
- Ehren, Christine. "Eli's Comin' Later: Laura Nyro Musical Will Open May 7", Playbill.com, April 19, 2001
- Playbill News: I Am My Own Mom: Judy Kuhn, Once a Cosette, Will Play Fantine in Les Miz
- Piepenburg, Erik. "Judy Kuhn and Melissa Errico Cast in Passion Revival",. The New York Times, April 2012
- "Passion at the Kennedy Center",. SondheimGuide.com, accessed July 3, 2012
- Hetrick, Adam. "Jeanine Tesori-Lisa Kron Musical Fun Home Extends for Second Time at the Public". Playbill. Retrieved 2 November 2013.
- Pocahontas, CDUniverse, accessed July 2, 2012
- Stewart, Bhob. " Long Time Since (1998)", The New York Times, accessed July 4, 2012
- "Judy Kuhn at Joe's Pub", TheaterMania.com, accessed July 3, 2012
- Holden, Stephen. "Music Review. Resurrecting an Urban Earth Mother", The New York Times, January 12, 2008
- Gans, Andrew. "Judy Kuhn Sings Joni Mitchell, Stephen Sondheim, Cole Porter at Feinstein's Starting March 6", Playbill.com, March 6, 2012
- Lipton, Brian Scott. "Judy Kuhn's Serious Playground CD Set for October 2 Release", TheaterMania.com, August 29, 2007
- Gans, Andrew. "Judy Kuhn Chats About Sondheim, Master Classes, Feinstein's, Motherhood and More", Playbill, February 24, 2012
- "2000–2001 Obie Awards",. InfoPlease.com, accessed July 3, 2012
- Judy Kuhn at the Internet Movie Database
- Judy Kuhn at the Internet Broadway Database
- Judy Kuhn at Internet Off-Broadway Database
- Judy Kuhn's Official Website
- Judy Kuhn's Myspace Page
- Judy Kuhn's 2007 XM Satellite Radio interview
- darkestnight: the works of Alain Boubil & Claude-Michel Schönberg[dead link]
- Judy Kuhn's Serious Playground Album on Ghostlight Records