Ashford at PaleyFest 2014 for Masters of Sex
|Born||Annaleigh Amanda Swanson
June 25, 1985
Denver, Colorado, U.S.
|Alma mater||Marymount Manhattan College|
|Occupation||Musical theatre, television and film actress|
|Spouse(s)||Joe Tapper (m. 2013)|
Annaleigh Ashford (born Annaleigh Amanda Swanson; June 25, 1985) is an American actress.
She is known for her work on Broadway as Glinda in Wicked, Elle in Legally Blonde, Jeanie in Hair, as well as for originating the role of Lauren in Kinky Boots, a performance for which she received a 2013 Tony nomination. Ashford won the 2015 Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Play in the role of Essie Sycamore in the revival of You Can't Take It with You.
Ashford was born in Denver, Colorado and raised in a single parent household by her mother, Holli Swanson, an elementary school gym teacher. Ashford participated in Kids Cross Country and Track at the age of six, coached by her mother. It was discovered there that she hated running, and it was very clear that she was more interested in the costume for the races rather than the actual races themselves. The last race she ever ran was the 400 m. After that race, her mother decided it was time to enroll her in the nearest dance studio. She was first enrolled and started studying at Kit Andreé's Dance and Performing Arts Center the same day she started the second grade. She acted and sang in numerous performances in her hometown, including the leads in the musicals Ruthless!, and Anything Goes. She graduated from Wheat Ridge High School in three years at the age of 16, and then attended Marymount Manhattan College, where she earned a degree in theatre in another three years at the age of 19. 
Ashford's professional career began at age nine, when she was cast as the lead in Ruthless! at "Theatre on Broadway". At fourteen, she was profiled as "The Teen to Watch" by the Rocky Mountain News.
In 2004, while hanging around in New York City's Lower East Side club scene, Ashford met nightlife personality Lady Starlight, a local rock DJ and performance artist. Lady Starlight invited the budding starlet to dance at her 1970s glitter rock party "Lady Starlight's English Disco", and christened her Hollywood Starr. She performed in Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey's Feeling Electric as Natalie at the New York Musical Theatre Festival in 2005. Soon after graduating from college, Ashford got her big break performing as one of Glinda's friends, Pfanne, and understudying the role of Glinda on the First National Tour of Wicked. She joined the cast in December 2005 and left in September 2006. She then originated the role of Margot in Legally Blonde: The Musical, her Broadway debut. She also understudied the lead role of Elle Woods, but only went on once. She was featured on the original cast recording and appeared in the MTV televised airing. She left the show in September 2007.
She then returned to Wicked, this time playing the lead role of Glinda in the Broadway production. She replaced Kendra Kassebaum on October 9, 2007. She departed the company on May 11, 2008 when Kassebaum returned to the role, and transferred to the Chicago production, replacing Kate Fahrner as Glinda on June 3, 2008. She played her final performance as Glinda on January 25, 2009, when the Chicago production closed.
In 2009 it was announced that Ashford would take place as one of the principal characters and singers in the new vaudeville styled Cirque du Soleil show, Banana Shpeel. However, even following a national television broadcast on America's Got Talent, it was announced that Ashford and her colleague, Michael Longoria, were no longer in the cast of the show. Publicists announced that the two leading vocalists had fallen victims of a creative decision to remove large portions of dialogue from the show, therefore making their characters non-existent. Ashford was originally slated to stay in the production from its premier in Chicago until sometime in 2010.
In January 2012, Ashford ended her run playing Maureen Johnson in the Off-Broadway revival of Rent, which began July 14, 2011 and closed on September 9, 2012. Emma Hunton took over the role of Maureen from her on January 13, 2012. In February 2012, Ashford made a cameo on Smash as Lisa McMann, and returned for another short appearance in 2013 before cancellation. From June 27 to August 19, 2012, she appeared in the Off-Broadway musical Dogfight.
Ashford also provided the voice of an unnamed troll in the highest grossing animated film of all time, Frozen. She has a short line greeting Kristoff – "Ah, lemme look at you!" – , and sings the second female solo after Maia Wilson in the song 'Fixer Upper' for the soundtrack.
In 2013, after first appearing in the Chicago try-outs, she reprised her role as Lauren in the Broadway production of Kinky Boots, a musical with a book by Harvey Fierstein and music and lyrics by Cyndi Lauper. For this role, Ashford received nominations for the Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Musical and the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical. Ashford left her role in Kinky Boots on March 2, 2014.
In 2013, Ashford appeared in the recurring role of young prostitute Betty Dimello in season one of the Showtime series Masters of Sex. Her part was upgraded from a recurring to regular for season two.
On Januaray 14, Ashford released a single with musical director Will Van Dyke on iTunes titled "Another Time (Andrew's Song)". In addition to writing music and lyrics, Van Dyke is the featured pianist on the single. The track also features Michael Aarons on guitar, Steve Gilewski on bass, Sammy Merendino on drums, Philip Payton on violin/viola, and Allison Seidner on cello. It was recorded at Harlem Parlour Recording, NYC by Derik Lee, who also mixed and mastered the recording.
Beginning on August 26, 2014, Ashford played the role of Essie Carmichael in the Broadway revival of You Can't Take It with You, directed by Scott Ellis. She appeared alongside Rose Byrne, James Earl Jones, and Elizabeth Ashley. The show closed on February 2, 2015. For this role, she won the 2015 Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Play.
On May 28, 2015, Ashford was announced to star along with fellow Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Play nominee Julie White in the first Broadway production of Sylvia by A.R. Gurney, as the titular character. Previews are scheduled to begin on September 25.
On June 7, 2015, Ashford revealed that she has begun work on her debut album which will include a mix "of all the live [Lost in the Stars] shows".
Lost in the Stars
In February 2014, Ashford made her 54 Below concert debut with her now acclaimed cabaret show, Lost in the Stars. After two sold-out shows on the 3rd of the month, Annaleigh quickly added an encore performance because of popular demand. She returned to 54 Below for a special Christmas themed reincarnation of her cabaret act for the first two Mondays of December with " a little more holiday cheer involved". Highly impressed, she was reviewed by Stephen Holden of the New York Times for her show on December 1. On February 11, 2015, it was announced that Ashford will be joined by Van Dyke and The Whiskey Five band to hit the road with a tour of her acclaimed cabaret show in five cities. In addition to her February 11 return to 54 Below, also played in Chicago, San Francisco, Las Vegas, and two special shows in her hometown of Denver, Colorado.
These concerts were recorded and a mix of performances from selected shows will be released on an upcoming live album by Ashford.
In September 2005, Ashford appeared in an early incarnation of Next to Normal (then called Feelin' Electric) at the New York Musical Theatre Festival, playing the role of Natalie. The role was later played on Broadway by Jennifer Damiano.
In August 2008, Ashford played Wednesday Addams in the staged reading for musical adaptation to The Addams Family with Nathan Lane and Bebe Neuwirth, but she was later replaced by Krysta Rodriguez.
|Start year||Production title||Role||Notes|
|2005||Wicked||Pfanee (u/s Galinda Upland)||Replacement
Emerald City Tour, First National Tour (December 2005 – September 2006)
|2007||Legally Blonde||Margot (u/s Elle Woods)||Original Broadway Cast
Broadway, Palace Theatre (April 3 – October 1)
Broadway, George Gershwin Theatre (October 9, 2007 – May 11, 2008)
Chicago, Oriental Theatre (June 3, 2008 – January 25, 2009)
|2010||Hair||Jeanie||Revival Replacement Cast
Broadway, Al Hirschfeld Theatre (March 9 – June 27)
|Cirque du Soleil: Banana Shpeel||Katie||Original Cast
Off-Broadway, never opened
|2011||Rent||Maureen Johnson||Original Revival Cast
Off-Broadway, New World Stages (July 14, 2011 – January 13, 2012)
Off-Broadway, Second Stage Theatre (June 27 – August 19)
|2013||Kinky Boots||Lauren||Original Broadway Cast
Broadway, Al Hirschfeld Theatre (March 3, 2013 – March 2, 2014)
|2014||You Can't Take It with You||Essie Carmichael||Original Revival Cast
Broadway, Longacre Theatre (September 28, 2014 – February 22, 2015)
|2015||Sylvia||Sylvia||Original Broadway Cast
Broadway, Cort Theatre (October 2, 2015 – )
|2007||Legally Blonde (Original Broadway Cast Recording)||"Omigod You Guys", "What You Want", "Positive", "Chip On Your Shoulder", "So Much Better", "Bend And Snap", "Legally Blonde Remix", "Find My Way / Finale"|
|2013||Dogfight (Original Cast Recording)||"Come to a Party (Reprise)", "Dogfight"|
|2013||Kinky Boots (Original Broadway Cast Recording)||"Sex Is In the Heel", "The History of Wrong Guys", "Everybody Say Yeah", "Raise You Up / Just Be"|
|2013||Frozen (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)||"Fixer Upper"|
|2014||Another Time (Andrew's Song) - Single||"Another Time (Andrew's Song)"|
|2014||Ahrens & Flaherty: Nice Fighting You (A 30th Anniversary Celebration Live at 54 Below)||"Intro: And so, in the Second Song from ‘Bedazzled’…", "Close But No Cigar", "Funny / The Duck Joke"|
|2008||Sex and the City||Spoiled Label Queen|
|2008||Rachel Getting Married||Quick Stop Cashier|
|2015||Stereotypically You||Anne||In post-production|
|2015||Love on the Run||Liza||In post-production|
|2007||Legally Blonde: The Musical||Margot||MTV telecast|
|2010||Law & Order||Mia||Episode: "Immortal"|
|2011||The Big C||Chole||Episode: "Cats and Dogs"|
|2012||Nurse Jackie||Cori||Episode: "Kettle-Kettle-Black-Black"|
|2012||Made in Jersey||Jackie||Episode: "Pilot"|
|2012, 2013||Smash||Lisa McMann||Episodes: "Pilot", "The Fallout"|
|2013||Law & Order: Special Victims Unit||Lindsay Anderson||Episode: "October Surprise"|
|2013||Watch What Happens: Live||Herself / Bartender||Episode: "Harvey Fierstein & Kim Zolciak"|
|2013||87th Annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade||Herself / Lauren||Performed with cast of Kinky Boots|
|2013–present||Masters of Sex||Betty Dimello||Lead role|
Awards and nominations
|Year||Association||Category||Title of work||Result|
|2013||Clarence Derwent Awards||Clarence Derwent Award for Most Promising Female Performer||Kinky Boots||Won|
|2013||Outer Critics Circle||Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical||Kinky Boots||Nominated|
|2013||Drama Desk Awards||Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical||Kinky Boots||Nominated|
|2013||Tony Awards||Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Musical||Kinky Boots||Nominated|
|2015||Outer Critics Circle||Outstanding Featured Actress in a Play||You Can't Take It With You||Won|
|2015||Drama Desk Awards||Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Featured Actress in a Play||You Can't Take It With You||Won|
|2015||Tony Awards||Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Play||You Can't Take It With You||Won|
|2015||Fred and Adele Astaire Awards||Fred and Adele Astaire Award for Best Female Dancer||You Can't Take It With You||Nominated|
- John Moore (2007-08-29). "Ashford 'Wicked's' new Glinda". Denver Post. Archived from the original on October 22, 2007. Retrieved 2007-09-30.
- "Chicago's 'Wicked' snags the Broadway Glinda". Chicago Tribune. 2008-04-15. Archived from the original on April 20, 2008. Retrieved 2008-04-16.
- Gans, Andrew (January 25, 2009). "Wicked Ends Lengthy Chicago Sit-Down Engagement Jan. 25". Playbill.com.
- Annaleigh Ashford IMDb profile
- "DeGarmo, Young, Ashford and Riabko Among New Cast of 'Hair' on Broadway" playbill.com
- NYC Return of Rent Will Star Annaleigh Ashford, Adam Chanler-Berat, Arianda Fernandez
- Ferri, Josh. "Cyndi Lauper's Kinky Boots Moves Up Broadway Start Date" Broadway.com (December 13, 2012)
- Nominations Announced for 58th Annual Drama Desk Awards; Giant and Hands on a Hardbody Lead the Pack Retrieve d April 29, 2013
- Nominations Announced for 67th Annual Tony Awards; Kinky Boots Earns 13 Nominations Retrieved April 30, 2013
- Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Play
- Kenneth Jones and Andrew Gans (August 4, 2008). "Lane, Neuwirth, Chamberlin, McCarthy and Arden Featured in Addams Family Reading". Playbill News.
- Hetrick, Adam (September 13, 2010). ""'What Is Your Damage?', Heathers: The Musical Gets Joe's Pub Concerts Sept. 13"". Playbill. Retrieved January 14, 2012.
- Hetrick, Adam (November 9, 2010). "EXCLUSIVE: MCC Tests Carrie, With Marin Mazzie, Aaron Tveit and Molly Ranson, Nov. 9". Playbill. Retrieved January 14, 2012.
- "‘Diner’ closer to stage". New York Post. January 11, 2012. Retrieved January 14, 2012.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Annaleigh Ashford.|
- Official website
- Annaleigh Ashford - Approved Fansite
- Annaleigh Ashford at the Internet Broadway Database
- Annaleigh Ashford at the Internet Movie Database