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Gillian M. Rodger

(b London, England, Feb 1834; d New York, NY, April 11, 1905). American composer, theater orchestra director, and arranger. Born in London’s East End, Braham’s musical education was gained largely through his early education at the British Union School. He initially played the harp, but switched to the violin and became a skilled performer by the time he was 18. Rather than embarking on a career as a professional musician, Braham became a brass turner, making tubing for brass instruments, and supplemented his income by performing in theatrical orchestras in the evenings. In 1856, in the wake of a cholera epidemic that took his mother’s life, he emigrated to New York, where he quickly found employment in theater orchestras. By 1857 he was a regular member of the orchestra attached to Matt Peel’s Campbell Minstrels, and remained with this company, despite personnel conflicts and the reforming of the troupe under a modified name, until ...

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Ellen Marie Peck

(b New York, NY, Jan 28, 1880; d New York, Jan 4, 1928). American lyricist, librettist, and actress. Born into a theatrical family, she spent her entire life in the theater. A meticulous actress, Donnelly was particularly known for her ability to interpret a role with depth and sensitivity at a rather young age, as she demonstrated with title roles in Candida (1903) and Madame X (1909). However, chronic illness and years of touring took an early toll on Donnelly, forcing her to transition to a writing career in her late 30s. In 1916 Donnelly penned the libretto for an Americanized German operetta, Flora Bella. She soon teamed up with composer sigmund Romberg , with whom she wrote some of the most successful operettas of the 1920s. Donnelly and Romberg enjoyed a close friendship and a symbiotic collaborative process, which lay behind the overwhelming success of ...

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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 ...

Article

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 (...

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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 ...

Article

(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 ...

Article

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 (...

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Sylvia Stoner-Hawkins

[John Joseph, Jr. ]

(b Boston, MA, Aug 10, 1898; d Los Angeles, CA, June 6, 1979). American actor and performer. Haley initially became an electrician in the Boston area. However, he soon left that career to pursue vaudeville and toured in the team Krafts and Haley. He began his Broadway career in the 1924 original musical revue Round the Town. In 1929 Haley starred as Jack Martin in the musical comedy Follow Thru with lyrics by DeSylva and Brown and music by Henderson. He and his costar, Zelma O’Neal, performed the hit number “Button up your Overcoat.” Haley was later cast in the 1932 musical comedy Take a Chance by DeSylva and Schwab. In the 1948 musical revue Inside USA, Haley’s character displayed effective physical comedy while portraying a weary traveler booked in a room with a trick bed. Haley served as the radio host of Wonder Show (1938–9), a show sponsored by Wonder Bread, which featured Gale Gordon as the announcer and regular appearances by Lucille Ball. Haley replaced Buddy Ebsen as the Tin Man in the film ...

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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 ...

Article

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 ...

Article

Jonas Westover

[Elizabeth Holzman ]

(b Cincinnati, OH, May 23, 1904; d Stamford, CT, June 18, 1971). American actress, singer, composer, and lyricist. Holman completed her college education before moving to New York where she began her theatrical career in 1924. Encouraged by the critic Channing Pollock, she appeared in revues, including the Garrick Gaieties (1925) and Merry-Go-Round (1927). Her most successful performance came in 1929 with The Little Show, where she introduced the song “Moanin’ Low” (by Ralph Rainger). This blues number became her signature tune, although she had another hit in Three’s a Crowd (1930) with “Body and Soul” (Heyman, Sour/Green). She appeared in other revues during the 1930s, including Revenge with Music (1934), and starred in Cole Porter’s You Never Know (1938). Holman produced her own one-woman show, Blues, Ballads, and Sin-Songs, in 1954. She took this opportunity to showcase her own compositions, including “Good Morning Blues” and “House of the Rising Sun.” Her music was deeply rooted in African American idioms, a connection she celebrated through her support of the Civil Rights Movement in the 1950s. Holman’s performances are preserved on 25 sides recorded for Brunswick from ...

Article

Gerald Bordman

(b New York, NY, March 30, 1858; d Kansas City, MO, Sept 23, 1935). American bass and comedian. He was expected to follow his family tradition and become a lawyer, but after his father’s death he abandoned his studies and used his inheritance to form his own acting company. The company failed, partly because, being exceptionally tall, Hopper towered comically above the rest of his troupe. He then studied singing (he had a fine bass voice), and struck huge success in 1884 when John McCaull cast him in John Philip Sousa’s Désirée. He solidified his reputation in The Begum (1887) and The Lady or the Tiger? (1888). He then played leading roles in several shows opposite the diminutive Della Fox, where the disparity in their height was deliberately exploited for its comic effect; productions included Castles in the Air (1890), Wang (...

Article

Gillian M. Rodger

(Jane )

(b Columbus, OH, March 16, 1889; d Beverly Hills, CA, Feb 26, 1956). American actress, singer, songwriter, and entertainer. Her stage career began when she was just a child and was promoted tirelessly by her mother, Jennie Cockrell Bierbower, a woman whose own theatrical aspirations had been thwarted. Janis’s first roles on the stage were with the Ohio Valentine Stock Company in 1897. Her career in vaudeville lasted into the 1920s, and the format of her act varied little. She opened with a song and then moved through imitations of popular stars of the period; her imitations varied from year to year and included a wide range of celebrities including Weber and Fields, Lillian Russell, Pat Rooney, Anna Held, Ethel Barrymore, Alla Nazimova, Fanny Brice, and George M. Cohan. By the 1920s she had begun to move into musical comedy and revue.

Janis was a tireless supporter of the troops during World War I and traveled to France and England to entertain them. She found equal popularity with English and French audiences. After her mother’s death in ...

Article

Paul R. Laird

(b Chicago, IL, March 31, 1922; d Warwick, NY, March 5, 1999). American actor and singer. Kiley attended Loyola University and acting school in Chicago before serving in the US Navy from 1943 to 1946. He began his acting career in radio and eventually settled in New York. Kiley toured in the play A Streetcar Named Desire before embarking on several television projects in the early 1950s. His Broadway debut was in the play Misalliance (1953). Later that year he played the Caliph in the musical Kismet, singing “Stranger in Paradise.” The play Time Limit! (1956) and work in Hollywood preceded his appearance in the musical Redhead (1959) opposite Gwen Verdon, for which he won his first Tony Award. Kiley continued his musical career as Diahann Carroll’s lover in No Strings (1962), the substitute male lead in Here’s Love (...

Article

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 ...

Article

Sylvia Stoner-Hawkins

[Lahrheim, Irving ]

(b New York, NY, Aug 13, 1895; d New York, NY, Dec 4, 1967). American performer. At age 15, Lahr began his career in an act called the Seven Frolics that played the burlesque circuit. Later in 1910 he toured with the Whirly Girly Musical Comedy Success. Lahr began as a solo performer in vaudeville, then became a team (with his first wife) known as Lahr and Mercedes (1922). He debuted on Broadway in Harry Delmar’s Revels (1927), yet Hold Everything (1928) was considered his big break. The 1936 production of The Show is On included Lahr’s performance of Harburg and Arlen’s “Song of the Woodman,” which became his trademark. Lyricist Yip Harburg recommended Lahr for the role of the Cowardly Lion in the MGM film The Wizard of Oz (1939). Lahr returned to Broadway to co-star with Ethel Merman in ...

Article

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 ...

Article

Paul R. Laird

[Lichtman, Joseph ]

(b Brooklyn, NY, May 3, 1931; d Key West, FL, May 5, 1994). American dancer, choreographer, and director. Layton joined the dancing chorus of Oklahoma! in 1947, followed by appearances as a dancer in such shows as High Button Shoes (1947), Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1949), Miss Liberty (1949), and Wonderful Town (1953). While in the army in the early 1950s, Layton started to choreograph and direct. He spent two years in the mid-1950s in France as a dancer and choreographer with the Ballet Ho de George Reich. Returning to the United States in 1956, Layton was a featured dancer in Rodgers and Hammerstein’s televised Cinderella (1957) and worked in summer stock. His New York choreography debut was an off-Broadway revival of On the Town (1959). Layton choreographed Once Upon a Mattress off-Broadway and then on Broadway and in London, and continued his work on Broadway with dances for ...

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Callum Ross, John Snelson and Margaret Campbell

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Margaret Campbell

Member of Lloyd-Webber family

(b London, April 14, 1951). Cellist, son of William Lloyd Webber. He studied with Douglas Cameron, Joan Dickson and Harvey Phillips at the RCM and Fournier in Geneva. He made his London recital début in 1971 and his concerto début the following year with the first London performance of Bliss's Cello Concerto, of which he subsequently made the first recording. Lloyd Webber has appeared widely as a soloist in Britain and abroad and has given many premières, including Rodrigo's Concierto como un Divertimento (1982), Arnold's Fantasy for Cello (1987) and Cello Concerto (1989), and Gavin Bryars's Farewell to Philosophy (1995), of which he is also the dedicatee. He was appointed professor of the cello at the GSM, London, in 1978, and was artistic director of Cellothon 88 at the South Bank in 1988. Lloyd Webber is known for his exploratory approach to repertory, introducing many neglected masterpieces into his programmes and recording his brother Andrew’s ...