June 18, 1971 |
Brooklyn, New York, U.S.
- 1 Biography
- 2 Credits
- 3 Awards and nominations
- 4 References
- 5 External links
Early life and career
Born in the Bensonhurst neighborhood of Brooklyn, Butler began acting in commercials at age three. She notes that growing up, "When I saw Annie ... I knew that was what I wanted to do." After a four-year hiatus imposed by her mother, Kerry started acting again at the age of nine and has been at it since.
Butler graduated from Ithaca College in 1992, where she majored in musical theatre. She toured with the musical Oklahoma! in Europe in the role of Ado Annie. Other New York roles included Vicki in the workshop of Bright Lights, Big City, Barrow in The "I" Word and Claudia in The Folsom Head. She also has done work on various commercials.
Butler made her Broadway debut in 1993 in the role of Ms. Jones in the musical Blood Brothers, where she also understudied the role of Linda. In 1995, Butler originated the role of Belle for the Toronto production of Disney's Beauty and the Beast, where she was nominated for the DORA Award for her performance, and eventually transferred to Broadway. After playing Belle for over two years, she left the musical in July 1997 and was replaced by Deborah Gibson. She then moved over to Les Misérables to play the coveted role of Eponine.
In 2001, Butler played the love interest Shelley in the acclaimed Off Broadway original musical Bat Boy: The Musical. Though the show had a "fanatical following," Butler noted that "We were really building an audience before Sept. 11. And after that we never recovered. People didn't want to go out at all, let alone downtown." Bat Boy closed in late 2001.
In February 2002 Butler was cast as Penny Pingleton (a role she had originated in workshops) in Hairspray, the musical version of the John Waters 1988 film of the same name. After an out-of-town tryout in Seattle, Hairspray opened on Broadway on August 2002 and "became an immediate Broadway smash." Even in a star-studded ensemble cast, reviewers singled Butler out for her sparkling performance as the spastic sidekick. The show would go on to win eight Tony Awards including Best Musical. For her performance, Butler was nominated for the Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Awards, and received the Clarence Derwent Award.
While Hairspray went into pre-production, Butler played the free-spirited performance artist Maddie in the limited run of the intimate Australian musical Prodigal at the York Theatre. In March 2002 Butler also appeared on the TV show Sesame Street as Ms. Camp, a letter carrier. During her run in Hairspray Butler filmed a TV pilot for Fox entitled Twins, but it was not picked up for the season.
After starring in Hairspray for a year Butler left the cast in July 2003 and was succeeded by Jenn Gambatese.
Little Shop of Horrors and beyond
Following the end of her Hairspray contract, Butler was cast in the role of Audrey in the second, more successful, Broadway production of the musical, Little Shop of Horrors. Butler revisited her long-lost childhood Brooklyn accent to play Audrey, the love interest with a sadistic dentist boyfriend and a heart of gold. A fan of Little Shop composer Alan Menken, who also wrote the music for Beauty and the Beast, Butler received an Outer Critics Circle nomination for Little Shop.
After leaving the show in the summer of 2004, Butler traveled to San Francisco where she created the role of scheming, foul-mouthed teenager Dedee Truitt in the new musical The Opposite of Sex, which had its world premiere at the Magic Theatre that fall. The musical is based on Don Roos' 1998 film starring Christina Ricci and Lisa Kudrow.
In the fall of 2005, Butler appeared in the original Off-Broadway musical Miracle Brothers at the Vineyard Theatre. She played the role of Isabel, a mother made miserable by the rebelliousness of her son as well as her unhappy marriage. In the summer of 2006 she reprised her role of Dedee in The Opposite of Sex at the Williamstown Theatre Festival, and followed that by taking on the role of Kate, the Ayn Rand-loving runaway bride, in the New York Musical Theatre Festival production of Party Come Here.
Butler also portrayed the manipulative heiress and recovering alcoholic Claudia Reston on the ABC soap opera One Life to Live, from January 2006 until January 2007, when her character was written off the show.
Beginning May 2007 through September 2008, Butler returned to the Broadway stage to star in the new musical Xanadu, based on the 1980 roller-disco film starring Olivia Newton-John. She played the role of Clio, a Greek muse who inspires and falls in love with a struggling artist. Butler mastered roller skating for the role and spent nearly the duration of the show on skates. Widely expected to be a flop, the musical opened in July 2007 to extensive critical acclaim and was the surprise hit of the summer.
For her role in Xanadu, Butler was nominated for the Tony Award for Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical and the Drama League Award for Distinguished Performance.
Faith, Trust & Pixie Dust
In May 2008, Butler released her first solo album on the PS Classics label. The album is entitled Faith, Trust & Pixie Dust and features some of Butler's favorite songs from Disney films and shows given "intimate, acoustic" arrangements. The title is taken from the lyrics of the Jonatha Brooke song "I'll Try", from the film Return to Neverland, which is featured on the album. Of note is the track "This Only Happens in the Movies", an unreleased song written by Alan Menken (for the unrealized prequel to Who Framed Roger Rabbit), being given its inaugural recording. The full track listing is below.
In a unique contest sponsored by her official site, Butler let fans submit suggestions for one song to be included on the album, with the winner, chosen by Butler, joining her in the studio when the song was recorded. The winning entry was "God Help the Outcasts", from the animated film The Hunchback of Notre Dame.
Catch Me If You Can, Rock of Ages, etc.
The following year, Butler was again featured as a guest star on major television shows. In May 2009 she appeared on an episode of NBC's 30 Rock, as a member of a group of New York ladies of leisure with a surprising secret. The following month, she appeared on the ABC series Cupid, as Debbie, a working-class masseuse who attempts to improve herself to impress her wealthy boyfriend.
In the summer of 2009, Butler appeared in the world premiere of Catch Me If You Can at the 5th Avenue Theatre, the same venue where Hairspray had its pre-Broadway tryout. She played Brenda Strong, the Southern ingénue who falls in love with the con artist Frank Abagnale, Jr. (The role was played by Amy Adams in the Steven Spielberg film version of Catch Me If You Can.)
In September 2009, Butler began a six-month engagement in the Broadway musical Rock of Ages, playing six performances a week. She played the lead role of Sherrie, a small-town girl who moves to the Sunset Strip in Los Angeles to pursue her dream of becoming an actress. She left the production on March 13, 2010.
In April 2010, Butler made her New York City cabaret debut at Feinstein's at the Regency with a show of songs she has performed on Broadway, as well as personal favorites.
In October 2010, Butler starred in the New York Musical Theatre Festival production of Pandora's Box, playing the title role of Pandora, a slightly naive suburban housewife whose life is turned upside down by the arrival of a mysterious stranger. She also appeared as Mary Jo Clarkson, an Islamist terrorist on the CBS television show Blue Bloods.
From March to September 2011, Butler reprised the role of Brenda Strong in the Broadway production of Catch Me if You Can at the Neil Simon Theatre, the same Broadway theatre where Hairspray played. For this role she was nominated for the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical.
Also in September 2011, Butler appeared on the series finale of Rescue Me as an overprotective mother who argues with Denis Leary's character on a playground.
The Best Man, The Call
From March through September 2012, Butler appeared in the Broadway revival of Gore Vidal's The Best Man. She played Mabel Cantwell, the Southern wife of a presidential candidate. The production costarred Angela Lansbury, James Earl Jones, Candice Bergen, Eric McCormack, John Larroquette, Michael McKean, and Jefferson Mays. It was her first Broadway role in a straight play, rather than a musical.
On February 18, 2013, Butler played Evelyn Nesbit in a concert production of Ragtime at Avery Fisher Hall. Also that month, she appeared on an episode of White Collar, playing a skeptical art dealer.
From March through May 2013, Butler appeared Off-Broadway in The Call, a new play by Tanya Barfield, a co-production between Playwrights Horizons and Primary Stages. In it, she plays Annie, an urban artist who decides to adopt a baby from Africa. The play is very personal to Butler.
In May 2013, Butler appeared on an episode of Law and Order: SVU as Ariel Randolph, a mother with a secret life whose bad decisions have tragic consequences.
Butler continues to perform in various workshops, readings and benefit concerts. She is a vegetarian and activist whose concerns include youth mentoring, human rights violations, genocide and environmental issues.
Butler is married to childhood friend Muppet writer and puppeteer Joey Mazzarino, and they have two daughters, whom they adopted from Ethiopia. The older daughter, Segi, is the inspiration for the Sesame Street song I Love My Hair.
- The Best Man — Mabel Cantwell, 2012
- Catch Me If You Can — Brenda Strong, 2011
- Rock of Ages — Sherrie, 2009–2010
- Xanadu — Clio/Kira, 2007–2008
- Little Shop of Horrors — Audrey, 2003–2004
- Hairspray — Penny Pingleton, 2002–2003
- Les Misérables — Eponine, 1998–1999
- Beauty and the Beast — Belle, 1995–1997
- Blood Brothers — Ms. Jones, 1993
- The Call at Playwrights Horizons — Annie, 2013
- Pandora's Box at the New York Musical Theatre Festival — Pandora, 2010
- Catch Me If You Can at the 5th Avenue Theatre — Brenda Strong, 2009
- Party Come Here at the New York Musical Theatre Festival — Kate, 2006
- The Opposite of Sex at the Williamstown Theatre Festival — Dedee Truitt, 2006
- Miracle Brothers at the Vineyard Theatre — Isabel, 2005
- The Opposite of Sex at the Magic Theatre, San Francisco — Dedee Truitt, 2004
- Prodigal at the York Theatre — Maddie, 2003
- Hairspray at the 5th Avenue Theatre — Penny Pingleton, 2002
- Bat Boy The Musical at the Union Square Theatre — Shelley Parker, 2001
- The "I" Word — Barrow
- The Folsom Head — Claudia
- Oklahoma! — Ado Annie
Demos, readings, concerts, and workshops
- Through the Door
- Romy and Michele's High School Reunion
- The Dogs of Pripyat
- The Green Heart
- Hollywood Lies
- The Nutty Professor
- The Front
- Catch Me If You Can
- One Step Forward
- In Your Dreams
- The Little Mermaid
- Pandora's Box
- The Man in the White Suit
- Legally Blonde: The Musical
- The Wedding Singer
- Easter Rising
- Robber Bridegroom
- Bright Lights, Big City
- Le Passe Muraille (later named Amour)
- Second Honeymoon (CBS) - Jennifer Luckenbill
- Borough of Kings [also known as Brooklyn Sonnet] (Lions Gate) - Anna Callahan
- Campfire Stories (Independent) - Beatrice
- Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (NBC), 2013
- White Collar (USA), 2013
- Rescue Me (FX), 2011
- Blue Bloods (CBS) - Mary Jo Clarkson, 2010
- Cupid (ABC) - Debbie, 2009
- 30 Rock (NBC) - Lyle, 2009
- Lipstick Jungle (NBC) - Reese, 2008
- One Life To Live (ABC) - Heather, 2000; Claudia Reston, 2006–2007
- Hometown (CBS) - Patti
- Another World (NBC) - Tina
- Sesame Street (PBS) - Charlotte Camp, 2002
- Crackle Box (PBS) - Tunie
- Princess Gwenevere and the Jewel Riders (Synd.) - Gwenevere
- Catch Me If You Can - Original Broadway Cast, 2011
- Dear Edwina - World Premiere Cast, 2008
- Xanadu - Original Broadway Cast, 2007
- Anna Karenina - The Broadway Musical, 2007
- Little Shop of Horrors - New Broadway Cast, 2004
- Hairspray - Original Broadway Cast, 2003
- Prodigal - Original Off-Broadway Cast, 2003
- Bat Boy - Original Off-Broadway Cast, 2001
- Faith, Trust & Pixie Dust - Released on May 13, 2008
- "This Only Happens in the Movies"
- "When You Wish Upon a Star"
- "I'll Try"
- "Call Me a Princess"
- "Colors of the Wind"
- "It's a Small World"/"God Help the Outcasts"
- "Baby Mine"
- "Minnie's Yoo Hoo"
- "Second Star to the Right"
- "The Bare Necessities"
- "When She Loved Me"
- Featured on Out of Our Heads: The Music of Kooman and Dimond - "I Think That He Likes Me", 2011
- Featured on Ballroom Remixed - "Bad at Being Good", 2011
- Featured on Carols for a Cure: Volume 9 - "Away in a Manger", 2007
- Featured on The Broadway Musicals of 1945 - "Here I Go Again", duet with Eddie Korbich; "It Doesn't Cost Anything to Dream"; "Slightly Perfect", duet with Scott Ailing; "What's the Use of Wond'rin", duet with Marc Kudisch, 2007
- Featured on Guy Haines' New Guy in Town - "Sure Thing", duet with Guy Haines, 2005
- Featured on NEO: New, Emerging, Outstanding - "Any Day", duet with Laura Bell Bundy and "Inside Your Heart", duet with Deven May, 2005
- Featured on Jamie deRoy & Friends: Volume 6: When I Grow Up - "Some Shoes Are Harder Than Others to Fill", 2005
- Featured on Jamie deRoy & Friends: Volume 5: Animal Tracks - "Lion Tamer", 2003
- Featured on Jamie deRoy & Friends: Volume 4: Family - "The Portrait", 2002
Awards and nominations
- 2011 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical, Catch Me If You Can Nominated
- 2008 Tony Award for Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical, Xanadu Nominated
- 2008 Drama League Award for Distinguished Performance, Xanadu Nominated
- 2004 Outer Critics Circle Award for Outstanding Actress in a Musical, Little Shop of Horrors Nominated
- 2003 Clarence Derwent Award for Most Promising Female Performance, Hairspray WINNER
- 2003 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical, Hairspray Nominated
- 2003 Outer Critics Circle Award for Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical, Hairspray Nominated
- 1996 DORA Award for Outstanding Female Performance in a Principal Role Nominated
- Kerry Butler at the Internet Movie Database
- Kerry Butler - Broadway.com Q&A 24 September 2007.
- Biography - Kerry Butler official website
- Kerry Butler interview - HainesHisWay.com
- Kerry Butler's official website - Resume
- Hairspray - Broadway.com
- "This Hairspray actress has the roller of her life" - NYDailyNews.com 13 August 2002.
- Kerry Butler interview - BroadwayWorld.com 16 October 2003.
- 2003 Fall Theatre Preview - New York Magazine
- The Opposite of Sex - Broadwayworld.com
- "Talkin' Broadway Review: Xanadu", 7/10/07
- "Xanadu Breaks Helen Hayes Box-Office Record", 7/12/07
- 2007-2008 Tony Nominations Announced; In the Heights Earns 13 Noms, 5/13/08
- LuPone, Ebersole and Baranski to Present Drama League Awards May 16, 5/6/08
- "Xanadu Star Butler Lands Recurring Role on NBC's Lipstick Jungle", 1/17/08
- "Kerry Butler's Faith, Trust and Pixie Dust Set For May Release", 2/28/08
- Kerry Butler Cast in World Premiere of Catch Me If You Can Musical
- Butz, Tveit, Wopat, Butler, Hart, deBenedet to Star in Catch Me If You Can Premiere
- Rock of Ages to Welcome Kerry Butler in September
- Norbert Leo Butz, Aaron Tveit, Kerry Butler and Tom Wopat Set for Broadway's Catch Me If You Can
- 56th Annual Drama Desk Nominations Announced; Book of Mormon Scores 12 Nominations
- Kerry Butler Joins THE BEST MAN; Casting Now Complete
- Kerry Butler's official website - Causes
- Kerry Butler's Official Website
- Kerry Butler's Official MySpace
- Kerry Butler | PlaybillVault.com
- Kerry Butler at the Internet Movie Database
- Kerry Butler at the Internet Broadway Database
- Kerry Butler Star File on Broadway.com
- Kerry Butler Bio and News at BroadwayWorld.com
- Kerry Butler Gallery at BroadwayWorld.com