Louise Pitre (born January 1, 1957) is an actress in musical theatre on Broadway and in Canada. She is best known for her role as Donna Sheridan in the ABBA-themed musical Mamma Mia!, which earned her a 2002 Tony Award nomination.
Pitre was born in Smooth Rock Falls, Ontario; her family moved to Montreal and then to Welland during her childhood. Her first language is French. At age seven, she began to play piano, eventually taking professional lessons. attended the University of Western Ontario and graduated with a bachelor's degree in music education. After performing in a college musical, however, she decided she would rather act on stage.
Pitre later moved to Toronto to pursue a musical theatre career. Her performance as Fantine in the musical adaptation of Les Misérables earned her acclaim in Toronto, Montreal, and Paris. Later, she portrayed French singer Edith Piaf in three productions of Piaf.
Other musicals she was involved with include Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris, I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change, The World Goes 'Round, Blood Brothers, Tartuffe, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, The Roar of the Greasepaint - The Smell of the Crowd, Applause, and Rock 'n' Roll. She was nominated for three Dora Mavor Moore Awards for her various projects in Canada.
Pitre drove down New York to audition for the musical Napoleon being produced in London, but was turned down for the role of Josephine. The director, Francesca Zambello, followed her out and told her she was perfect for a show she was also casting in Toronto entitled "Mama Mia!" Pitre auditioned for the role of Donna Sheridan. Although initially hesitant about taking the role, believing it to be "a tacky revue of ABBA tunes", she eventually changed her mind after seeing the show. She performed the role in Toronto and in its United States national tour, and after 18 months, was asked to play the role on Broadway.
Reviews were positive; Variety Magazine, although unenthusiastic about the musical, called her "a terrific Donna", The New York Times called her performance "delightful" and praised her "terrific pop belter's voice", and the San Francisco Chronicle praised her for making the show "a dramatic showstopper". For her performance, she was nominated for the Tony Award for Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical, and won the National Broadway Touring Award and an award from the San Francisco Theatre Critics Circle. Pitre left the show in October 2003.
Pitre has released several CDs including, All My Life Has Led To This, featuring songs in English and French,"Shattered," "La vie en rouge" (all French) and "Songs My Mother Taught Me." She can also be heard on the cast recordings of ""Could You Wait?", a show she co-wrote with W.J. Matheson and Diane Leah, "Kristina" playing the role of Ulrika and "Les Miserables" (role of Fantine) in the Paris cast recording.
She starred as Mayor Babs Belgoody and Ma Ferd in the Toronto production of The Toxic Avenger at the Danforth Music Hall from October 2009 through January 2010 with Dancap Productions. She was on stage in summer 2010 in Love, Loss and What I Wore and finished the year to rave reviews of her performance as Toad in A Year With Frog and Toad at Lorraine Kimsa Theatre for Young People (now Young Peoples Theatre). She won her fourth Dora Mavor Moore Award for this performance.
She is a Founding Artist of Theatre 20, a musical theatre company in Toronto formed by artists in 2009, and headlined their first project, a workshop of the first English translation of the hit French musical Les Belles Soeurs. She also performed in Theatre 20's 2011 Concert Series at the Panasonic Theatre.
On June 1, 2011, she recorded her first live album during a one-night-only, sold-out concert (La Vie en Rouge) at the St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts' Jane Mallett Theatre. The upcoming CD will be released in 2012 in French.
- PLAYBILL ON-LINE'S BRIEF ENCOUNTER with Louise Pitre. October 16, 2001. Retrieved June 24, 2007.
- Professionally Speaking article. Retrieved June 24, 2007.
- Stevenson, William. Louise Pitre.
- Vercammen, Paul. Old ABBA hits go from radio to stage, April 20, 2001. Retrieved June 24, 2007.
- Cdn. Mamma Mia star 'shattered' by Bush win, November 8, 2004. Retrieved June 24, 2007.
- Oxman, Steven. Mamma Mia! February 28, 2001. Retrieved June 24, 2007.
- Brantley, Ben. THEATER REVIEW; Mom Had a Trio (And a Band, Too), October 19, 2001. Retrieved June 24, 2007.
- Winn, Steven. Mamma's' a guilty pleasure for ABBA fans despite its weaknesses, November 18, 2000. Retrieved June 24, 2007.
- 'Mamma Mia!' It's Louise Pitre And Her Tony Nomination. CBS News, May 31, 2002. Retrieved June 24, 2007.
- Gans, Andrew. Playbill News: Mamma Mia!'s Louise Pitre Is Mrs. Lovett in Sweeney Todd. Playbill, September 16, 2003. Retrieved June 24, 2007.
- Gans, Andrew. Playbill News: Mamma Mia!'s Louise Pitre Finds Next Musical Role. April 13, 2005. Retrieved June 24, 2007.
- "Final Three Weeks to Laugh Your Head Off!". Dancap Toxic Avenger Press Release. Dancap Productions. Retrieved 9 August 2011.
- Ouzounian, Richard (18 November 2010). "Gentle show is good family fare". Toronto Star. Retrieved 9 August 2011.
- "La Vie En Rouge: Q&A with Louise Pitre". Theatreomainia. 23 May 2011. Retrieved 9 August 2011.
- Ouzounian, Richard (22 December 2010). "Louise Pitre heads all-star cast for Sisters, Theatre 20's first project,". Toronto Star. Retrieved 9 August 2011.
- Jones, Kenneth (12 April 2011). "Colm Wilkinson, Louise Pitre and New Musical Amelia Will Be Heard in Toronto Concert Series". Playbill. Retrieved 9 August 2011.
- "La Vie En Rouge: Q&A with Louise Pitre". Theatreomania. 23 May 2011. Retrieved 9 August 2011.
- "Upcoming Appearances - Concerts". Louise Pitre Website. Louise Pitre. Retrieved 9 August 2011.
- Louise Pitre at the Internet Movie Database
- Louise Pitre Official Site
- Louise Pitre at the Internet Broadway Database
- Theatre 20 Official Site