World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article


LaChanze in 2006
Born Rhonda LaChanze Sapp
(1961-12-16) December 16, 1961
St. Augustine, Florida
Other names LaChanze Sapp, La Chanze Sapp-Gooding, R. Lachanze Sapp
Occupation Actress, singer, dancer
Years active 1988–present

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.[1][2]


  • Life 1
  • Career 2
  • Stage 3
  • Filmography 4
  • Discography 5
  • Concerts 6
  • Books 7
  • Awards and nominations 8
  • References 9
  • External links 10


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 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 soon moved on to Broadway 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, the first meeting of Congress in New York since 1790.[3][4] 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. [5]


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.[6][7]

She was a replacement "Sarah" in the Ahrens and Flaherty and Terrence McNally Broadway musical Ragtime, starting in December 1998.[8]

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.[9] She received a Drama Desk nomination, Actress (Musical), for her performance.[10]

LaChanze participated in an Actors Fund of America benefit concert of Funny Girl, with many performers portraying the character of "Fanny Brice", in September 2002.[11]

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.[12] LaChanze received an Obie Award for Performance for Dessa Rose.[13][14]

LaChanze appeared as "Celie" in the Broadway musical The Color Purple, from its opening in 2005 to November 2006.[15][16]

In September 2008 she participated in the Boston Pops concert, Handel's Messiah Rocks at Emerson College. The performance was filmed by Public Broadcasting Service.[17]

She was in the Off-Broadway production of Inked Baby, written by Christina Anderson, which opened in March 2009 at Playwrights Horizons Peter Jay Sharp Theater.[18]

In June and July 2009, she played the role of "Glinda" in the City Center Encores! staged Summer Stars concert production of The Wiz.[19]

She returned to Broadway in 2014 as Kate in If/Then.



Sources: The New York Times;[21] TCM[22]


  • 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



  • Little Diva, picture book, 2010

Awards and nominations

Year Award Category Nominated Work Result
1991 Theatre World Award Outstanding Broadway debut Once On This Island Won
Tony Award Best Featured Actress in a Musical Nominated
Drama Desk Award Best Featured Actress in a Musical Nominated
2001 Drama Desk Award Best Actress in a Musical The Bubbly Black Girl Sheds Her Chameleon Skin Nominated
2005 Drama Desk Award Best Actress in a Musical Dessa Rose Nominated
Obie Award Performance Won
2006 Tony Award Best Actress in a Musical The Color Purple Won 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 Audience Award Favorite Supporting Actress in a Musical If/Then Won


  1. ^ "If/Then"Anthony Rapp Will Join Tony Winners Idina Menzel and LaChanze in Broadway-Bound Musical Playbill. Retrieved 13 August 2013.
  2. ^ "LaChanze" Retrieved 13 August 2013.
  3. ^ [2]
  4. ^ Lehrer, Sari. "Weddings" New York Magazine, Summer 2006, retrieved August 29, 2013
  5. ^ Michael Gioia, "My If/Then Moment": LaChanze Recounts the Divine Intervention Leading Her to the 9/11 Memorial, 18 Jun 2014,
  6. ^ "LaChanze Career", accessed August 29, 2013
  7. ^ Listing, see Awards Internet Broadway Database, accessed August 29, 2013
  8. ^ Lefkowitz, David and Viagas, Robert and Ehren, Christine. "Bway's 'Ragtime' To Get All-New Leads, Incl. Rubinstein, Alton White & LaChanze", December 18, 1998
  9. ^ Listing, accessed August 30, 2013
  10. ^ Jones, Kenneth and Simonson, Robert. 2001 "Drama Desk Winners Include 'Producers', 'Proof' and 'Mnemonic' ", May 20, 2001
  11. ^ Simonson, Robert. More Fannys: LaChanze, Kayden, Murney Join Funny Girl Concert", September 17, 2002
  12. ^ Simonson, Robert. "LaChanze and Rachel York Begin Previews in 'Dessa Rose' at Mitzi Newhouse, Feb. 17" February 17, 2005
  13. ^ "Search 2005", accessed August 29, 2013
  14. ^ Simonson, Robert. "Shanley, Hughes, Culkin, Marvel, O'Connell Among 2005 Obie Winners", May 16, 2005
  15. ^ Hernandez, Ernio. "LaChanze Confirmed as Leading Lady of 'Color Purple' Musical; Broadway Cast Announced", September 7, 2005
  16. ^ Hernandez, Ernio. "Tony Winner LaChanze to End Her Run in Broadway's 'The Color Purple' Nov. 5", October 18, 2006
  17. ^ Gans, Andrew. PBS to Film LaChanze, Spencer and Boston Pops in Handel's Messiah Rocks", September 5, 2008
  18. ^ Jones, Kenneth. " 'Inked Baby', Starring LaChanze, Opens March 23 in NYC", March 23, 2009
  19. ^ Gans, Andrew and Hetrick, Adam."Jones, LaChanze, Arnold, Lewis, Henry and More Will Join Ashanti in The Wiz", May 7, 2009
  20. ^ "Tony Winner LaChanze to Join Idina Menzel in the New Broadway Musical 'If/Then' " Retrieved August 13, 2013.
  21. ^ Filmography The New York Times, accessed August 29, 2013
  22. ^ Filmography, accessed August 29, 2013

External links

This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.