LaChanze in 2006
|Born||Rhonda LaChanze Sapp
December 16, 1961
St. Augustine, Florida, United States
|Other names||LaChanze Sapp, La Chanze Sapp-Gooding, R. Lachanze Sapp|
|Occupation||Actress, singer, dancer|
Rhonda LaChanze Sapp, known professionally as LaChanze (/ləʃɑnz/; born December 16, 1961) is an American actress, singer, and dancer. She won the Tony Award for Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical in 2006 for her role in The Color Purple.
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Born in St. Augustine, Florida, to parents Walter and Rosalie Sapp, her stage name "LaChanze" (Creole: the charmed one), is taken from her grandmother. After moving to Connecticut, her childhood love of singing and dancing caused her mother to enroll her in the Bowen Peters Cultural Arts Center in New Haven. It is there that she first discovered her love for performing. At Warren Harding High School in Bridgeport, LaChanze made her debut as Lola in the school production of Damn Yankees.
Living so close to New York City gave LaChanze access to the world of theater. The first theatrical production she ever saw was the musical Chicago. Graciela Daniele was cast in the production and many years later Daniele had a lasting impact on LaChanze's professional development as a performer. While she greatly enjoyed the dance world, LaChanze often felt limited and had the frequent urge to stop dancing and belt out a dramatic tune or to erupt into an intense monologue.
After high school, LaChanze studied Drama at Morgan State University in Baltimore, Maryland, before transferring to the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, where she studied Theater and Dance. Her first summer job was as a tap dancer in the ensemble of Uptown... It's Hot! at the Tropicana Hotel in Atlantic City, New Jersey. The show opened on Broadway in January 1986, where LaChanze began her professional career in the theater.
While LaChanze was eight months pregnant with her second child, her husband, securities trader Calvin Gooding, was killed in the September 11, 2001 attacks. He was working at Cantor Fitzgerald in Tower One of the World Trade Center. On September 6, 2002, she sang the National Anthem at a joint meeting of Congress in Federal Hall National Memorial, the first meeting of Congress in New York since 1790. She later sang Amazing Grace at the dedication of the National September 11 Memorial & Museum on May 15, 2014, dedicating her performance to her late husband.
LaChanze remarried in 2005 to Derek Fordjour, and later divorced him in 2014. The divorce was finalized on March 27, 2014 in Westchester County.
LaChanze played the role of "Ti Moune" in the Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty musical Once on This Island in 1990 and received nominations for the Tony Award as Best Featured Actress in a Musical and Drama Desk Award as Outstanding Actress in a Musical.
She played the role of "Viveca" in the Playwrights Horizons Off-Broadway production of the musical The Bubbly Black Girl Sheds Her Chameleon Skin, which opened in June 2000. She received a Drama Desk nomination, Actress (Musical), for her performance.
In 2005 she played a runaway slave in the Ahrens and Flaherty musical Dessa Rose. The musical opened Off-Broadway at the Mitzi Newhouse Theatre at Lincoln Center in March 2005. LaChanze received an Obie Award for Performance for Dessa Rose.
She returned to Broadway in 2014 as Kate in If/Then.
- Cabin in the Sky, (2016), Wanda, Encores!
- If/Then (2015 - 16), Kate, National Tour
- If/Then (2014–15), Kate, Broadway
- If/Then (2013), Kate, National Theatre, out-of-town tryouts
- Handel's Messiah Rocks: A Joyful Noise (2012), National Tour
- From the Mississippi Delta, regional
- The Wiz (2009), Glinda, Encores!
- Inked Baby (2009), off-Broadway
- Spunk, regional
- The Color Purple (2005-06), Celie, Broadway
- Dessa Rose (2005), Dessa Rose, off-Broadway
- Baby (musical) (2004), Pam, Papermill Playhouse
- The Color Purple (2004), Celie, Alliance Theatre
- Once on This Island, Ti Moune (2002), Broadway reunion concert
- Funny Girl (2002), Fanny Brice, New York Actor's Benefit Fund Concert
- The Bubbly Black Girl Sheds Her Chameleon Skin (2000), Viveca, off-Broadway
- Ragtime (1999-2000), Sarah (replacement), Broadway
- The Vagina Monologues (1999), Performer, off-Broadway
- Ragtime (1997), Sarah, Los Angeles
- Comfortable Shoes (1996), Performer, Papermill Playhouse
- Company (1995), Marta, Broadway revival
- Out of This World (1995), Chloe, Encores!
- Once on This Island (1990-91), Ti Moune, Broadway
- Once on This Island (1990), Ti Moune, off-Broadway
- Dreamgirls (1987), Deena Jones u/s, Michelle Morris u/s, & Ensemble, Broadway revival
- Uptown...It's Hot! (1986), Ensemble, Broadway debut
- Uptown... It's Hot!, (1985), Tap Dancer, Tropicana Hotel
- The Cosby Show (1988-1989), Sylvia, 2 episodes (TV)
- My New Gun (1992), Kelly Jane
- Leap of Faith, Georgette (1992)
- For Love or Money (1993), Nora
- The Cosby Mysteries (1994), Dr. Weeks, 2 episodes (TV)
- New York Undercover (1996), Mariah Barton, 1 episode (TV)
- Total Security (1997), Wanda Robitaille, 1 episode (TV)
- David Searching, God Truth, (1997)
- Hercules, Terpsichore (1997)
- Hercules, Terpsichore (1997)
- Hercules: The Animated Series, (1998), Terpsichore, 11 episodes (TV)
- Hercules: Zero to Hero, Terpsichore (1999)
- Sex and the City (1999), Hostess, 1 episode (TV)
- Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (2000), Ms. Pivik, 1 episode (TV)
- Heartbreak Hospital, Lisa (2002)
- Lucy, (2003), Harriett (TV film)
- Black Sorority Project: The Exodus (2006) -executive producer
- Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (2008), Amber, 1 episode (TV)
- Handel's Messiah Rocks (2009), Singer
- Breaking Upwards, Maggie, (2009)
- One Life to Live, (2011), Yvonne Moreau, 3 episodes (TV)
- The Help, Rachel, (2011)
- Side Effects, Wards Islands Desk Nurse, (2013)
- The Battery's Down, Ti Moune, 1 episode, 2015
- The Night Of, 2016 (TV)
- Once On This Island (Original Broadway Cast Recording), 1990
- Disney's Princess Favorites, featured artist, 2002
- Dessa Rose (off-Broadway Cast Recording), 2005
- The Color Purple (Original Broadway Cast Recording), 2006
- Disney Collection 1, featured artist, 2006
- The Bubbly Black Girl Sheds Her Chameleon Skin (Studio Cast Recording), 2007
- Handel's Messiah Rocks: A Joyful Noise, featured artist, 2009
- Nice Fighting You: A 30th Anniversary Celebration Live at 54 Below, featured on four songs, 2014
- If/Then (Original Broadway Cast Recording), 2014
- September 6, 2002- Federal Hall National Memorial
- 2008- Handel's Messiah Rocks, Emerson College
- Dec. 1 & 2, 2008- Joe's Pub
- Dec. 5, 2010- Playhouse Square Center
- Dec. 16, 2012- Birdland
- May 15, 2014- National September 11 Memorial and Museum
- Feb. 13, 2015- Kennedy Center
- 2016/17- Feeling Good Tour (dates TBA)
- Little Diva, picture book, 2010
Awards and nominations
|1991||Theatre World Award||Outstanding Broadway debut||Once On This Island||Won|
|Tony Award||Best Featured Actress in a Musical||Nominated|
|Drama Desk Award||Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Actress in a Musical||Nominated|
|2001||Drama Desk Award||Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Actress in a Musical||The Bubbly Black Girl Sheds Her Chameleon Skin||Nominated|
|2005||Drama Desk Award||Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Actress in a Musical||Dessa Rose||Nominated|
|2006||Tony Award||Best Actress in a Musical||The Color Purple||Won|
|Broadway.com Audience Award||Favorite Actress in a Musical||Won|
|Favorite Diva Performance||Won|
|Favorite Onstage Pair (w/ Elisabeth Withers)||Nominated|
|2010||Emmy Award||Outstanding Achievement for Individual Excellence on Camera: Programming - Performer||Handel's Messiah Rocks||Won|
|2014||Broadway.com Audience Award||Favorite Supporting Actress in a Musical||If/Then||Won|
- "Anthony Rapp Will Join Tony Winners Idina Menzel and LaChanze in Broadway-Bound Musical If/Then" Playbill. Retrieved 13 August 2013.
- "LaChanze" Oprah.com. Retrieved 13 August 2013.
- Uptown...It's Hot ibdb.com, accessed March 19, 2016
- Gordon, Meryl. "The Lives Left Behind" New York Magazine, accessed March 19, 2016
- Lehrer, Sari. "Weddings" New York Magazine, Summer 2006, retrieved August 29, 2013
- Gioia, Michael. "My If/Then Moment": LaChanze Recounts the Divine Intervention Leading Her to the 9/11 Memorial" June 18, 2014
- "LaChanze Career" masterworksbroadway.com, accessed August 29, 2013
- Listing, see Awards Internet Broadway Database, accessed August 29, 2013
- Lefkowitz, David and Viagas, Robert and Ehren, Christine. "Bway's 'Ragtime' To Get All-New Leads, Incl. Rubinstein, Alton White & LaChanze" playbill.com, December 18, 1998
- Listing lortel.org, accessed August 30, 2013
- Jones, Kenneth and Simonson, Robert. 2001 "Drama Desk Winners Include 'Producers', 'Proof' and 'Mnemonic' " playbill.com, May 20, 2001
- Simonson, Robert. More Fannys: LaChanze, Kayden, Murney Join Funny Girl Concert" playbill.com, September 17, 2002
- Simonson, Robert. "LaChanze and Rachel York Begin Previews in 'Dessa Rose' at Mitzi Newhouse, Feb. 17" February 17, 2005
- "Search 2005" villagevoice.com, accessed August 29, 2013
- Simonson, Robert. "Shanley, Hughes, Culkin, Marvel, O'Connell Among 2005 Obie Winners" playbill.com, May 16, 2005
- Hernandez, Ernio. "LaChanze Confirmed as Leading Lady of 'Color Purple' Musical; Broadway Cast Announced" playbill.com, September 7, 2005
- Hernandez, Ernio. "Tony Winner LaChanze to End Her Run in Broadway's 'The Color Purple' Nov. 5" playbill.com, October 18, 2006
- Gans, Andrew. PBS to Film LaChanze, Spencer and Boston Pops in Handel's Messiah Rocks" playbill.com, September 5, 2008
- Jones, Kenneth. " 'Inked Baby', Starring LaChanze, Opens March 23 in NYC" playbill.com, March 23, 2009
- Gans, Andrew and Hetrick, Adam."Jones, LaChanze, Arnold, Lewis, Henry and More Will Join Ashanti in The Wiz" playbill.com, May 7, 2009
- "Tony Winner LaChanze to Join Idina Menzel in the New Broadway Musical 'If/Then' " Broadway.com. Retrieved August 13, 2013.
- Filmography The New York Times, accessed August 29, 2013
- Filmography tcm.com, accessed August 29, 2013