Carmen Cusack

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Carmen Cusack
Carmen Cusack at 2016 Theatre World Awards.jpg
Carmen Cusack at the 2016 Theatre World Awards
Born (1971-04-25) April 25, 1971 (age 48)
Spouse(s)Paul Telfer

Carmen Cusack (born April 25, 1971) is an American musical theater actress and singer. She is known for playing Elphaba in the Chicago, North American Tour and Melbourne productions of the musical Wicked, as well as for originating the role of Alice Murphy in the Broadway musical, Bright Star.

Her performance was highly praised and earned her a Tony Award nomination and a 2016 Theatre World Award for her Broadway debut.

Early life[edit]

Cusack attended the University of North Texas and graduated with a performing arts degree. She trained in opera, ballet, jazz and tap.[1] Cusack is married to actor Paul Telfer.[2]

After completing university, she accepted a job on the MS Queen Elizabeth 2, which changed the course of her career. In Manchester, England, she had her breakthrough role as Christine Daae in The Phantom of the Opera. Soon after this, she made her West End debut as Fantine in Les Misérables.[3]

She also appeared in the original West End productions of The Secret Garden and Personals.[3]



Cusack later returned to America, and on December 12, 2006, joined the Chicago production of Wicked as the standby for the lead role of Elphaba. Impressed with her portrayal of the character, the producers asked her to star in the lead role on the show's first national tour, beginning in October 2007.[4] Her role as standby was taken over by Jennifer DiNoia.

She began performances on tour, replacing Victoria Matlock, on November 6, 2007. She starred alongside Katie Rose Clarke as Glinda. After spending one year on tour, she left on November 2, 2008, and was replaced by Donna Vivino, who had been her standby.

Cusack was next seen in the Melbourne production in Australia, as the temporary standby for Elphaba: Amanda Harrison had taken a break from the show due to illness, and the standby, Jemma Rix, had been given the lead role. Cusack was with the company from June 10 to July 10, 2009. She left to begin rehearsals for South Pacific.

Other roles[edit]

In 2009, Cusack played Nellie Forbush in the first national tour of South Pacific. Based on the 2008 Broadway revival, performances began September 18, 2009 in San Francisco.[5] For this role Cusack was nominated for the Helen Hayes Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Non Resident Production.[6]

In 2012, she played the role of Miss Gardner in the Off-Broadway revival of Carrie - The Musical, which began performances at the Lucille Lortel Theatre on January 31, 2012. Carrie played a limited run until April 8, 2012.[7][8]

In 2013, Cusack played the role of Mother in the Milwaukee Repertory Theater's critically acclaimed[9] production of Ragtime (musical).

Cusack appeared as Dot/Marie in the Chicago Shakespeare Theater production of Sunday in the Park with George from September 26 to November 4, 2012, opposite Jason Danieley.[10][11]

Cusack appeared in the production of the new musical First Wives Club, based on the film, beginning in February 2015. The musical ran at the Oriental Theatre, Chicago, Illinois. Cusack played the role of Annie.[12]

In 2020, Cusack will originate a leading role in the new musical Flying Over Sunset, directed by James Lapine. The production will begin in March 2020 at Lincoln Center Theater's Vivian Beaumont Theater.[13]

Bright Star[edit]

Cusack originated the role of Alice Murphy in the new musical Bright Star, written and composed by Steve Martin and Edie Brickell. She has been with the show since its workshop in July 2013 at the Powerhouse Theatre at Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, New York.[14] Cusack performed in the show's world premiere at the Old Globe Theatre in San Diego in September 2014. She continued her role during its tryout run in Washington D.C. from December 2015 to January 2016.

Cusack made her Broadway debut in Bright Star, which opened on March 24, 2016.[15] For her performance, Cusack won a Theatre World Award.[16] She also received nominations for the Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical, the Outer Critics Circle Award for Best Actress in a Musical, the Drama League Award for Distinguished Performance, and the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Actress in a Musical.[17][18][19][20] Cusack reprised the role of Alice during the musical's North American tour stops in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Salt Lake City.[21][22][23]

Film & television[edit]

In 2018, Cusack appeared as Sabrina in James Ponsoldt's critically acclaimed Facebook Watch dramedy Sorry for Your Loss, and was cast opposite Tom Hanks in Marielle Heller's Fred Rogers biopic A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood.[24] In 2019, Cusack was cast as a series regular on NBC's Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist.[25] On August 27, 2019, it was announced that Lauren Graham had replaced Cusack in the role of Joan.[26]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Award Category Nominated work Result
2011 Helen Hayes Award Outstanding Lead Actress, Non-Resident Production South Pacific Nominated
2013 Joseph Jefferson Award Actress in a Principal Role in a Musical Sunday in the Park with George Nominated
2016 Helen Hayes Award Outstanding Performer, Visiting Production Bright Star Nominated
Tony Award Best Actress in a Musical[27] Nominated
Drama Desk Award Outstanding Actress in a Musical[28] Nominated
Drama League Award Distinguished Performance[29] Nominated
Outer Critics Circle Award Outstanding Actress in a Musical[30] Nominated
Theatre World Award[31] Honoree
2017 Grammy Award Best Musical Theater Album Nominated


  1. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2011-02-01. Retrieved 2009-10-03.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link) Official Site
  2. ^ Spaner, Whitney. "Meet the Man Who Stopped Carmen Cusack From Giving Up Theatre" Playbill, May 8, 2016
  3. ^ a b Millward, Tom. "Interview with Bright Star's Carmen Cusack" New York Theatre Guide, June 2, 2016
  4. ^ Hetrick, Adam. Wicked Tour Has New Leading Witches", November 12, 2007
  5. ^ " 'South Pacific' Tour",, July 23, 2009.
  6. ^ "Gavin Lee, Arena's 'Oklahoma!', Signature's 'Sycamore Trees', Phylicia Rashad Are Helen Hayes Nominees in DC" Archived March 5, 2011, at the Wayback Machine; accessed November 14, 2017.
  7. ^ "MCC Theater Announces Complete Cast for Revamped Revival of 'Carrie' " Archived November 23, 2011, at the Wayback Machine
  8. ^ Hetrick, Adam. " 'Carrie' Dies Sooner Than Expected; Revival to Close April 8 Off-Broadway" Archived March 25, 2012, at the Wayback Machine;, March 23, 2012.
  9. ^
  10. ^ Jason Danieley, Carmen Cusack to Lead Chicago Shakespeare Theater's SUNDAY IN THE PARK WITH GEORGE,, August 8, 2012.
  11. ^ "Photo Flash: Jason Danieley, Carmen Cusack and CST's SUNDAY IN THE PARK WITH GEORGE Perform at Art Institute of Chicago!",, September 17, 2012.
  12. ^ Houlihan, Mary. " 'First Wives Club' Musical Attacks "Dumb Girl Culture" With Motown Hits",, February 19, 2015.
  13. ^ Paulson, Michael (August 20, 2019). "Tripping on Broadway: A New Musical Explores LSD Use by Cary Grant and More". The New York Times. The New York Times. Retrieved August 20, 2019.
  14. ^ Pogrebin, Robin (2016-04-27). "Carmen Cusack Puts 'Her Pain and Her Joy' Into a Leading Broadway Role". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2016-05-03.
  15. ^ "Breaking News: Carmen Cusack to Make Broadway Debut in Steve Martin & Edie Brickell's 'Bright Star'; Dates Set!" Broadway World, Retrieved October 21, 2015
  16. ^ "Theatre World Awards Announce 2016 Winners" Playbill, Retrieved May 3, 2016
  17. ^ Coverage, BWW Special. "2016 Tony Awards Nominations - HAMILTON Breaks Record with 16! And the Nominees Are..." Retrieved 2016-05-03.
  18. ^ Viagas, Robert. "2016 Outer Critics Circle Nominees Announced", April 19, 2016
  19. ^ BWW News Desk. "SHE LOVES ME, HAMILTON, THE CRUCIBLE & More Earn 2016 Drama League Nominations; Check Out the Full List!", April 20, 2016
  20. ^ BWW News Desk. "The 2016 Drama Desk Nominations- 'She Loves Me', 'American Psycho' & Bright Star' Lead!", April 28, 2016
  21. ^ BWW News Desk. "Carmen Cusack to Return for BRIGHT STAR at the Ahmanson This Fall",, July 24, 2017.
  22. ^ "Carmen Cusack to Reprise Role in BRIGHT STAR at the Curran",, September 14, 2017.
  23. ^ McPhee, Ryan. "Why Carmen Cusack Ultimately Decided to Reprise Her Bright Star Role",, November 7, 2017.
  24. ^ "Tony Nominee Carmen Cusack Lands Role Opposite Tom Hanks in Fred Rogers Film". Playbill.
  25. ^ "'Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist' Casts Carmen Cusack". Deadline.
  26. ^ Ausiello, Michael; Ausiello, Michael (27 August 2019). "Gilmore Girls Vet Lauren Graham Sets Extraordinary TV Return at NBC". Retrieved 27 Aug 2019.
  27. ^ "Tony Awards Nominations: Complete List", Variety, May 3, 2016
  28. ^ Cox, Gordon. "Drama Desk Nominations: She Loves Me, American Psycho Earn Most Nods (FULL LIST)", Variety, April 28, 2016
  29. ^ Gans, Andrew. "Zachary Levi and Megan Hilty Host 82nd Annual Drama League Awards Today", Playbill, May 20, 2016
  30. ^ Gordon, David. "Cynthia Erivo, Danny Burstein, Steve Martin, and More Win 2016 Outer Critics Circle Awards", TheaterMania, May 9, 2016
  31. ^ Gans, Andrew. "Theatre World Awards Announce 2016 Winners", Playbill, May 2, 2016

External links[edit]