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Judy Kaye

Judy Kaye
Born (1948-10-11) October 11, 1948
Phoenix, Arizona
Occupation Actress/Singer
Spouse(s) David Green

Judy Kaye (born October 11, 1948) is a Tony Award–winning American singer and actress. She has appeared in stage musicals, plays, and operas. Kaye has been in long runs on Broadway in the musicals The Phantom of the Opera, Ragtime, Mamma Mia!, and Nice Work If You Can Get It.


  • Biography 1
    • Career 1.1
    • Personal 1.2
  • References 2
  • External links 3


Kaye was born in Phoenix, Arizona, the daughter of Shirley Edith (née Silverman) and Jerome Joseph Kaye, a physician.[1] She attended UCLA, studying drama and voice.[2][3] "Her voice spans three octaves. She started out as a mezzo and now sings all the way up to an E natural...but basically she feels she is now a soprano."[4] She "easily shifts between Broadway belt and soaring soprano" according to[5]


Kaye made her Broadway debut as a replacement Rizzo in the original company of Grease in the 1970s. Her next show was the Broadway musical On the Twentieth Century (1978), playing only the small role of the maid Agnes, and also the understudy for leading lady Madeline Kahn. Kahn left the show early in the run, and Kaye took over the lead role. The New York Times reported "Judy Kaye replaced Madeline Kahn...and bang, boom, overnight she is a star."[6][7] Kaye also toured the US in the musical.

Her next two Broadway ventures flopped. The Moony Shapiro Songbook (1981), a campy spoof of songwriter-based revues like Side by Side by Sondheim and Ain't Misbehavin', closed after fifteen previews and one official performance. Frank Rich, in his New York Times review, wrote "Two members of the company suggest what might have been - Judy Kaye, a skilled musical-comedy comedienne who sings a pretty ballad at a white piano."[8] In November 1981 Oh, Brother!, which transplanted William Shakespeare's The Comedy of Errors to the Middle East, closed after thirteen previews and three official performances.[9] Frank Rich's New York Times review noted that "Judy Kaye, while getting campier each time out, remains a big belter with a sure comic sense."[10]

In 1988, Kaye returned to Broadway as Carlotta in The Phantom of the Opera,[11] She won the 1988 Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Musical for this role.[12]

It was nearly a decade before her next Broadway role, appearing as Emma Goldman in Ragtime from 1997 to 2000.[13] She was the only principal to remain with that show for its entire run.[14] Next, she appeared as "Rosie" in Mamma Mia! in 2001–2003,[15] and received a Tony Award nomination as Best Featured Actress in a Musical.[16]

Kaye has performed extensively in regional theatre, in roles as widely varied as both Julie Jordan and Nettie Fowler in Carousel, Annie Oakley in Annie Get Your Gun, Nellie Forbush in South Pacific, Meg in Brigadoon, Hildy in On the Town, Lalume in Kismet, Lili Vanessi in Kiss Me, Kate, Pistache in Can-Can, Babe Williams in The Pajama Game, the Old Lady in Candide, Maria in The Sound of Music, Rose in Gypsy, Anna in The Anastasia Game, Aldonza in Man of La Mancha, Lucy in You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown, Sally in Follies (1995, Theatre Under the Stars),[17] Mary Magdalene in Jesus Christ Superstar.[18]

Kaye's non-musical roles have included such classics as The Man Who Came to Dinner and You Can't Take It with You (1996, Connecticut Repertory Theatre, Storrs). In 1996 she performed in The Royal Family at the McCarter Theater in Princeton, New Jersey as Kitty Dean.[19] She appeared in Lost in Yonkers in 2011 as Grandma Kurnitz at the Arizona Theatre Company, Phoenix, Arizona.[20]

Kaye appeared in Stephen Temperley's Souvenir and "drew raves for her humorous, yet touching work" with her portrayal of the legendarily bad singer Florence Foster Jenkins.[21] The play originally ran Off-Broadway in November 2004 to January 2005.[22] After a production at the Berkshire Theatre Festival in August to September 2005, it premiered on Broadway, from October 2005 to January 2006,[23] and she has since performed it in several venues in the United States.[24] Ben Brantley, in his New York Times review, wrote: "Ms. Kaye strikes that single note of personality with a happy mixture of ardor, unblinking obliviousness and ... pitch-perfect period detail."[25]

In June 2006, Kaye assumed the role of [31]

The musical Paradise Found featured Kaye in a production co-directed by Harold Prince and Susan Stroman at the Menier Chocolate Factory in London from May – June 2010. She appeared in the musical adaption of Tales of the City at the American Conservatory Theatre, San Francisco, California, from May through July 2011, as Anna Madrigal.[32]

She starred in the musical, Nice Work If You Can Get It, which opened on Broadway in April 2012.[33] She won the Tony Award, Drama Desk Award and Outer Critics Circle Award for this role.[34][35][36] In September 2014, she joined the Broadway production of Cinderella as the Fairy Godmother and remained with the show till its final performance on January 3, 2015.[37]

Opera, operetta, and recordings

She has performed frequently in opera, operetta and older musicals, including leading roles in: The Beggar's Opera, Orpheus in the Underworld, Leave It to Jane, Oh, Lady! Lady!!, The Cat and the Fiddle, and Trouble in Tahiti.[7] She appeared in concert at The Town Hall, New York, in Eileen and Sweethearts (1983)[38] and Sweet Adeline (1985).[18][39] In August 1990 she played the role of Musetta in the Santa Fe Opera production of La Bohème.[40] She debuted the role of Abbie in the premiere of Edward Thomas' musical version of Desire Under the Elms, presented by the New York Opera Repertory Theater in 1989.[41] She performed the title role in The Merry Widow at the Papermill Playhouse (Millburn, New Jersey) in 1991.[42] She has appeared with opera companies and orchestras such as the Santa Fe Opera (1985 and 1990), the New York City Opera (1989), the New York Philharmonic (1990), the Boston Pops Orchestra (1990), and the London Symphony Orchestra (1990).

Kaye has made several recordings, including Where, Oh, Where?: Rare Songs of the American Theater (Premier), Diva to Diva (Leonard Bernstein; the latter includes the world-premiere recording of Bernstein's Arias and Barcarolles.[44]

Kaye is featured on six tracks of John McGlinn's EMI disc Broadway Showstoppers, four of them numbers from Jerome Kern's Sweet Adeline (including the ballad "Why Was I Born?") and one a first-ever recording of the "Duet for One (The First Lady of the Land)", the tour-de-force from Leonard Bernstein and Alan Jay Lerner's 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.[45] She also was featured on the 1997 Varèse Sarabande studio recording of the 1965 musical Drat! The Cat!.[46]

Kinsey Millhone books

Kaye reads the audiobook of the Sue Grafton Kinsey Millhone series.[20][47]


Kaye lives in New Jersey with her husband, David Green, in an apartment overlooking Manhattan.[48]


  1. ^ Bio
  2. ^ Flatow, Sheryl.Broadways Favorite Diva" (reprint from, accessed March 19, 2011
  3. ^ "NOTABLE ALUMNI ACTORS". UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television. Retrieved September 29, 2014. 
  4. ^ Lopinto, Maryann."Meet Judy Kaye - The Phantom's Diva" (reprint from Show Music Magazine), accessed March 19, 2011
  5. ^ Gans, Andrew."Diva Talk:Chatting with Souvenir Star Judy Kaye, Alice Ripley On High and News of Cook and Moore", December 17, 2004
  6. ^ Corry, John. New York Times, May 5, 1978, p. C2
  7. ^ a b Gromberg, Alan."Spotlight on Judy Kaye",, accessed March 10, 2009
  8. ^ Rich, Frank."Theater:'Moony Shapiro Songbook' The New York Times, May 4, 1981
  9. ^ "'Oh, Brother! Listing" Internet Broadway Database, accessed March 19, 2011
  10. ^ Rich, Frank."The Stage: 'Oh, Brother!,' A Musical'" The New York Times, November 11, 1981
  11. ^ Rich, Frank. "Stage: 'Phantom of the Opera'" The New York Times, January 27, 1988
  12. ^ 1988 "Tony Awards", accessed March 19, 2011
  13. ^ Brantley, Ben. "THeater Review: 'Ragtime': A Diorama With Nostalgia Rampant" The New York Times, January 19, 1998
  14. ^ Jones, Kenneth."Broadway Ragtime Closing January 16; National Tour Journeys On", January 14, 2000
  15. ^ "'Mamma Mia!' Listing" Internet Broadway Database, accessed March 19, 2011
  16. ^ Gans, Andrew. "Tony Winner Judy Kaye to Depart 'Mamma Mia!' in October",, June 25, 2003
  17. ^ "1995 Theater Under the Stars Production", accessed March 20, 2011
  18. ^ a b Judy Kaye biography, accessed March 10, 2009
  19. ^ Ridley, Clifford A."A `Royal Family' That's Slightly Mismatched",, October 4, 1996
  20. ^ a b Bio,, accessed March 20, 2011
  21. ^ Gans, Andrew. Judy Kaye Plus News of Streisand and Stritch"Souvenir's"Diva Talk: Catching Up with ,, November 2005
  22. ^ Gans, Andrew. "Judy Kaye to Star in York Theatre's Souvenir Beginning Nov. 23" Playbill, September 28, 2004
  23. ^ Souvenir Broadway"", accessed November 2, 2015
  24. ^ Gans, Andrew. "Tony Winner Kaye Reprises Role of Off-Key Singer in A.C.T.'s 'Souvenir' Starting Feb. 13",, February 13, 2009
  25. ^ Brantley, Ben. "A Mighty Squeal From a Big Heart", The New York Times, November 11, 2005.
  26. ^ "Kaye cues up for Sweeney", Daily Variety, May 19, 2006, Vol. 291, No. 35, p. 2
  27. ^ Osborne, Robert. "Rambling Reporter", VNU Entertainment News Wire (The Hollywood Reporter), August 8, 2006
  28. ^ Lipton, Brian. Tour"Sweeney Todd"Judy Kaye and David Hess to Star in ,, May 7, 2007
  29. ^ Hernandez, Ernio. "Slice of Life: Judy Kaye and Company Begin Sweeney Todd Pre-Tour SF Stint, Aug. 30",, August 30, 2007
  30. ^ Hitchcock, Laura. "Review"Sweeney Todd Goes West",, March 12, 2008
  31. ^ Klein, Alvin. in All Its Musical Power"Sweeney Todd, The New York Times, November 15, 1991
  32. ^ Hetrick, Adam. 'Bites Into That Lotus' As New Musical Opens in San Francisco May 31"Tales of the City" ,, May 31, 2011
  33. ^ McGrath, Charles. "Ferris Bueller’s Nights Onstage", The New York Times, April 5, 2012
  34. ^ Gans, Andrew. , Audra McDonald, Danny Burstein and More Are Drama Desk Winners"Once, Tribes, Follies, Salesman",, June 3, 2012
  35. ^ Gans, Andrew. Are Top Winners"One Man, Two Guvnors and Once"Outer Critics Circle Winners Announced; ,, May 14, 2012
  36. ^ Jones, Kenneth. , Audra McDonald, Salesman Win 2012 Tony Awards"Once, Clybourne Park, Porgy and Bess" ,, June 10, 2012
  37. ^ Cast as 'Fairy Godmother'"Cinderella"It's Possible! Judy Kaye Will Join , August 11, 2014, accessed September 20, 2014
  38. ^ Wilson, John. At Town Hall"Sweethearts"Operetta , The New York Times, December 17, 1983
  39. ^ Wilson, John. Is Revived"Adeline"Music: Kern's , The New York Times, May 24, 1985
  40. ^ Henahan, Donal. "Review/Opera; Boheme Artists Who Look the Part", The New York Times, August 4, 1990, p. 13
  41. ^ Rothstein, Mervyn. O'Neill Centenary: Celebrating the Master", The New York Times, October 13, 1988
  42. ^ Klein, Alvin. "Merry Widow"Theater: Nonstop Gaiety in The New York Times, April 28, 1991
  43. ^ Mandelbaum, Ken. "Musicals on Disc: A Varese Sarabande TrioKen Mandelbaum's ,, April 9, 1998
  44. ^ Arias and Barcarolles, Songs and Duets: Stabler, David. "Kaye Shines In Bernstein Song Cycle; Record Reviews", The Oregonian (Portland, Oregon), May 5, 1990, p.C10
  45. ^ Edwards, Adrian. "Review",, August 1993
  46. ^ Mandelbaum, Ken. "Ken Mandelbaum's Musicals On Disc: Beast, Drat!, Sunset, etc.",, September 14, 1997
  47. ^ Books Read by Judy Kaye", accessed arch 20, 2011
  48. ^ Siegel, Micki. "At Home With Judy Kaye, a Fairy Godmother's New Jersey Getaway" Playbill, November 1, 2014

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