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Ahrens, Lynn  


Broadway (New York theatre district)  

Commercial name for the New York theater district. Few of the theaters are actually on Broadway, but many are in the Times Square area. The “Broadway” designation as a term, according to Actor’s Equity, refers to a theater with at least 500 seats; off-Broadway houses are smaller.

See Musical theater.


Ebb, Fred  

James Leve

(b New York, NY, c8 April 1928–33; d New York, NY, Sept 11, 2004). American lyricist. He received a BA from New York University and a master’s degree in English literature from Columbia University. In the 1950s he collaborated with Phil Springer and placed several song lyrics with record companies in the Brill Building. He also collaborated with Paul Klein on three musicals, one of which, Morning Sun, appeared Off-Broadway in 1963. Ebb’s first Broadway experience was as a contributor to the 1960 revue From A to Z.

He is best known for his work with john Kander , with whom he started working in 1962. Within months they had their first hit, “My Coloring Book,” which garnered them a Grammy nomination. Their collaboration lasted more than four decades and resulted in 13 Broadway musicals, including two produced after Ebb’s death. Their first, Flora, the Red Menace (...


Fierstein, Harvey  

Ronald J. Zank

(b Brooklyn, NY, June 6, 1954). American performer, playwright and librettist. Fierstein grew up in New York and worked as an actor; he also pursued his interest in painting and received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn. He was both lead actor and playwright for Torch Song Trilogy, which originated off-off Broadway before transferring to off-Broadway and finally to Broadway (1982). He wrote the libretto for the musical adaptation of the French play and film La Cage Aux Folles (1983, music and lyrics by Jerry Herman), about a gay couple dealing with their son’s marriage into a conservative family. Fierstein also crafted the book for the short-lived Legs Diamond, a production that featured the songs and performance of Peter Allen as the title gangster. As a performer Fierstein originated the role of plus-sized mother Edna Turnblad in the musical ...


Foster, Sutton  

Sharon O’Connell Campbell

(Lenore )

(b Statesboro, GA, March 18, 1975). American performer. Embodying the “triple-threat” performance model of singer, actor, and dancer, Sutton Foster enjoyed a rapid rise to musical theater stardom. Foster debuted on Broadway in 1993 as a chorus member and understudy for Eponine in Les Misérables (opened 1987), then played Sandy Dumbrowski in Grease (1994). She appeared in Annie (1997) and The Scarlet Pimpernel (1997). Foster created the role of Thoroughly Modern Millie’s Millie Dillmount in California tryouts in 2000. Despite being little-known, she was cast for the show’s Broadway (2002) opening; her performance earned Tony, Drama Desk, and Outer Critics Circle Awards for Best Actress in a Musical, and an Astaire Award for Best Female Dancer. Subsequently, Foster created the roles of Jo in Little Women (2005), Janet Van De Graaff in The Drowsy Chaperone (...


Gelbart, Larry  

Judith A. Sebesta

(Simon )

(b Chicago, IL, Feb 25, 1928; d Beverly Hills, CA, Sept 11, 2009). American librettist. He began his prolific and diverse career at 16 writing for radio. After moving to television in the 1950s, he collaborated with such well-known early television actors as Sid Caesar and Mel Brooks. His career in that medium peaked with M*A*S*H, for which he wrote the pilot and subsequently wrote, produced, and occasionally directed the hit series. His screenwriting credits include Tootsie (1982) and Oh, God! (1977), for which he was nominated for an Oscar. His librettos for A Funny Thing Happened on to the Way to the Forum (1962) and City of Angels (1989) both won Tony Awards. After Gelbart’s death from cancer in 2009, Jack Lemmon, Carl Reiner, and Woody Allen all named him the best American comedy writer they had ever known....


Gleason [née Hall], Joanna  

Sharon O’Connell Campbell

(b Winnipeg, MB, June 2, 1950). Canadian actress. A character actress, she has worked in film and television and on stage in both musical and non-musical theater. She made her Broadway debut playing Monica in the musical I Love My Wife (1977). Her next four performances, all recognized by awards or nominations, were for non-musical plays: The Real Thing (1984), Joe Egg (1985), and Social Security (1986) on Broadway and It’s Only a Play (1986) off-Broadway. For her portrayal of the Baker’s Wife in Sondheim’s Into the Woods (1987), Gleason received Tony, Drama Desk, and Outer Critics Circle awards. She played Nora in the short-lived Nick & Nora (1991) and was nominated again for a Tony Award for Muriel in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (2005). Gleason’s off-Broadway stage, television, and film credits are numerous; her films include Woody Allen’s movies ...


Green, Adolph  

(b New York, NY, Dec 2, 1914; d New York, NY, Oct 24, 2002). American lyricist, librettist, and actor. He sustained a lifelong writing partnership with Betty Comden. Among their joint works were the musicals Wonderful Town (1953) and Bells Are Ringing (1956), and the film script ...


Grey [Katz], Joel  

Sylvia Stoner-Hawkins

(David )

(b Cleveland, OH April 11, 1932). American actor. Son of comedian and musician Mickey Katz, Grey began his performing career in nightclubs in Cleveland in 1951. Realizing that playing the Copacobana would not help him to pursue a serious acting career, Grey quit the clubs and began to work in regional theater. He was hired to replace Anthony Newley as Littlechap in Stop the World—I Want to Get Off (opened 1962) on Broadway. This engagement followed with another replacement part in Half a Sixpence (opened 1965). Typecast a character actor, Grey confronted various obstacles in securing starring roles. This changed when Hal Prince hired him to play the Emcee in Kander and Ebb’s Cabaret (1966). Walter Kerr of the New York Times reviewed Grey’s Emcee as “cheerful, charming, soulless, and conspiratorially wicked.” Grey creatively cloaked his tenor voice in a bright androgynous color for the nightclub numbers. As the Emcee he danced with seductive charm. Grey received the Tony for Best Featured Actor in a Musical and later earned an Oscar for the film version (...


Griffin, Gary  

G. J. Cederquist

(b Rockford, IL, 1960). American stage director. Having begun college as a journalism major, Griffin changed fields to study theater at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire (BA 1982). He continued to study at Illinois State University where he received his Master of Fine Arts in Directing. After moving to Chicago in 1988 his directing career has focused on musical theater, a field in which he has won eight Joseph Jefferson Awards. His aesthetic tends towards the paring down of the large-scale musical and providing such works a more intimate and chamber piece quality.

Griffin is a renowned interpreter of Stephen Sondheim’s works, including productions of Saturday Night (a world premiere), Passion, A Little Night Music, Sunday in the Park with George, Pacific Overtures (a unique all-male production which later transferred to the Donmar Warehouse [London] and won an Olivier Award), and Follies. Each of these productions originated at Chicago Shakespeare Theater where Griffin is associate artistic director. Previously he was the artistic director of the Drury Lane Oakbrook. He made his Broadway debut in ...


Guettel, Adam  

Scott Warfield

(b New York, NY, Dec 16, 1964). American composer, lyricist, and orchestrator. The son and grandson, respectively, of Broadway composers mary Rodgers and richard Rodgers , Guettel first sang professionally as a boy soloist with the New York Metropolitan Opera and other companies. He was educated at Phillips Exeter Academy, the Interlochen Center for the Arts, and Yale University, from which he graduated in 1987. Early in his adult career, Guettel assisted conductor John Mauceri in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Song and Dance, composed music for the off-Broadway show Love and Anger, and also performed as a bassist and singer. His first compositions include songs, symphonic works, and an unperformed one-act opera.

Guettel’s initial success was the off-Broadway production Floyd Collins, which won him and book author Tina Landau the 1996 Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding Musical. The show also earned Guettel and his orchestrator Bruce Coughlin that year’s Obie Award for Music. It is based on the ...


Harnick, Sheldon  

Jessica Hillman

(b Chicago, IL, April 30, 1924). American lyricist. After serving in the Army, he attended Northwestern University, where he studied violin and received a Bachelor of Music degree. His first song on Broadway, for which he wrote both the music and the lyrics, appeared in New Faces of 1952. After teaming with composer Jerry Bock on The Body Beautiful (1958), Harnick concentrated on lyrics only for a string of highly successful Broadway musicals featuring Bock’s tuneful music and Harnick’s character-driven lyrics. The pair gained acclaim when Fiorello (1959), about the charismatic titular mayor of New York, won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. Their most acclaimed collaboration, Fiddler on the Roof (1964), often considered the last of the “Golden Age” musicals, for a time became the longest running musical on Broadway before it closed in 1972. Other works include Tenderloin (1960), ...


Hearn, George  

Sylvia Stoner-Hawkins

(b St. Louis, MO, June 18, 1934). American actor and singer. He began his career in New York in 1963 with Shakespeare in the Park and subsequently has performed in more than 185 plays and about 20 musicals. He first appeared on Broadway as Ianto Morgan in A Time for Singing by John Morris (1966). He also played the role of John Dickinson in Sherman Edwards’s 1776 (1971) and replaced Len Cariou in the title role of Stephen Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd (1979). He originated the role of Papa in I Remember Mama (1979), with music by Richard Rodgers. For his portrayal of Albin in La Cage aux Folles (Jerry Herman, 1983) he earned a Tony Award for Best Actor in a Musical. Albin’s character introduced the anthem “I Am What I Am,” which made a powerful statement about homosexual tolerance that coincided with the recognition of AIDS in America. In ...


Holm, Celeste  

Sharon O’Connell Campbell

(b New York, NY, April 29, 1917; d New York, NY, July 15, 2012). American actress and singer. Her stage, film, and television acting career exceeded 50 years and embraced a wide variety of characters and genres. Holm began her Broadway musical career in Gloriana (1938), then worked steadily in non-musical plays until originating Ado Annie in Oklahoma! (1943). She starred in Broadway’s Bloomer Girl (1944) before signing a movie contract with 20th Century Fox in 1946. She received an Academy Award for portraying Anne Dettrey in Gentleman’s Agreement (1947) and nominations for Come to the Stable (1949) and All About Eve (1950). Movie musicals include The Tender Trap (1955), High Society (1956), and Tom Sawyer (1973); television musicals include The Yeomen of the Guard (1957) and Rodgers and Hammerstein’s ...


Jones, Tom (American lyricist and composer)  

Jessica Sternfeld

(b Littlefield, TX, Feb 17, 1928). American lyricist and composer. He has often worked with the composer harvey Schmidt , and the duo bear the distinction of writing The Fantasticks, which in the early 2010s was the longest-running off-Broadway musical of all time. It opened on 3 May 1960 and ran 17,162 performances before closing on 13 January 2002. It received a Special Tony Award in 1992 for its staying power and status as a musical theater icon, and a film version was released in 1995. Jones and Schmidt had met at the University of Texas, Austin, and collaborated on a few projects, but were mired in a complicated, overly large project based on an Edmond Rostand play (a spoof of Romeo and Juliet) when they got the offer to create the musical one-act that became their signature piece. They kept their play’s basic concept but jettisoned all of their material except the song “Try to Remember,” and the result was ...


Kuhn, Judy  

Sharon O’Connell Campbell

(b New York, NY, May 20, 1958). American singer and actor. A graduate of Oberlin Conservatory, Judy Kuhn made her Broadway acting debut in The Mystery of Edwin Drood (1985). She was nominated for a Drama Desk Award for her performance as Bella Cohen in the four-performance run of Rags (1986). Tony and Drama Desk nominations followed for her portrayal of Cosette in Les Misérables (1987) as well as of Florence in Chess (1988). She received a Tony nomination for Amalia Balash in the She Loves Me (1993) revival, performed as Michal in King David (1997) and as a replacement for Fantine in the 2006 revival of Les Misérables. Other non-Broadway musical theater credits include an Olivier Award-nominated turn as Maria/Futura in Metropolis (London, 1989), Betty Schaefer in Sunset Boulevard (Los Angeles, 1994), and Fosca in ...


LaChiusa, Michael John  

Peter Purin

(b Chautauqua, NY, July 24, 1962). American composer and lyricist. He developed an interest in composing musical theater from a very young age. When he could not afford to attend the Juilliard School as a teenager, he became an accompanist at SUNY Fredonia. He then made his way to New York City in 1980 as a gigging pianist. ASCAP and BMI workshops for musical theater writing provided opportunities to hone his craft. His first full-length musical, Ballad of the Sad Café (1984), went unproduced. He began writing one-act musicals, including Agnes and Eulogy for Mister Hamm, which helped him secure the Richard Rodgers Development Award. Four of his one-act musicals were produced by Playwrights Horizon in 1991. There he met Ira Weitzman, who helped him obtain funding to continue writing. In the early 1990s, he did libretto work for opera composers Robert Moranon and Anthony Davis. His own through-composed ...


Lane, Nathan  

Hsun Lin

[Lane, Joseph ]

(b Jersey City, NJ, Feb 3, 1956). American actor and singer. He changed his name in honor of his favorite character, Nathan Detroit, from Guys and Dolls. Lane began his theatrical career with the revival of Noel Coward’s Present Laughter in 1982. His second appearance on Broadway was in the musical Merlin (1983), which was a commercial failure. His career took off in the early 1990s. He starred as Nathan Detroit in the revival of Guys and Dolls (1992), for which he received his first Tony nomination. He won his first Tony for Best Actor as Pseudolus in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (revival, 1996) and his second Tony as Max Bialystock in The Producers (2001). Coincidentally, both roles were originated by Zero Mostel. Besides musical comedies, Lane has also appeared in several plays, such as the revival of Simon Gray’s ...


Lapine, James  

Lara E. Housez

(Elliot )

(b Mansfield, OH, Jan 10, 1949). American playwright, director, and photographer. He attended Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, where he majored in Middle Eastern history, and the California Institute of the Arts in Valencia, California, where he graduated with an MFA in Design. Lapine moved to New York to work as a freelance photographer and graphic designer. He eventually left the visual arts for a career in theater, where he wrote and produced a workshop version of Twelve Dreams (1978) and authored and directed the plays Table Settings (1978); Luck, Pluck and Virtue (1994); The Moment When (2000); Fran’s Bed (2005); and Mrs. Miller Does Her Thing (2008). Lapine collaborated with composer william alan Finn on the musicals March of the Falsettos (1981) and Falsettoland (1990), later presented together as ...


Laurents [Levine], Arthur  

Paul R. Laird

(b Brooklyn, NY, July 14, 1917; d New York, NY, May 5, 2011). American writer and director. After attending Cornell, Laurents wrote for radio before creating the plays Home of the Brave (1945) and The Time of the Cuckoo (1952) for Broadway. He was blacklisted for political reasons in the early 1950s and lived abroad for a few years. Laurents’s most famous writing credits in the musical theater are the books for West Side Story (1957) and Gypsy (1959), two of the most powerful musical plays in the genre’s history. He revealed his ability to craft a terse, explosive book for the former, effectively setting up the songs and dances while also delineating characters. In Gypsy, Laurents helped create memorable characters and nostalgically evoke the worlds of vaudeville and burlesque. His continuing Broadway work included directing I can get it for you wholesale...