Who's Who in Musicals: Additional Bios IV
by John Kenrick

(Copyright 2002)

 

Barrett, Brent
Actor, singer
b. Feb. 28, 1957 (Quinter, Kansas)

This handsome, golden voiced tenor made his Broadway debut as Diesel in a revival of West Side Story (1980). He created the role of airline steward Charles Castleton in Alan Jay Lerner and Charles Strouse's short-lived Dance a Little Closer (1983), introducing "Why Can't the World Go and Leave Us Alone" – the first gay love song in a Broadway musical. After a stint on the daytime television drama All My Children (1983-84), Barrett appeared in the original cast of Richard Maltby & David Shire's acclaimed off-Broadway revue Closer Than Ever (1989). He took over the role of Baron Felix Von Gaigern in the original Broadway production of Grand Hotel, and sang the role on the cast recording. Barrett played Tommy Albright on conductor John McGlinn's 1992 studio recording of Lerner & Loewe's Brigadoon, co-starring with Rebecca Luker and Judy Kaye. Soon afterward, this trio recreated their performances under McGlinn's baton at New York City Opera.

Barrett guest-starred on a 1996 episode of the action-adventure series Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, returning to Broadway as the egocentric Maximillian in director Hal Prince's lavish second revival of Candide (1996). He took over the role of Billy Flynn in the long-running revival of Chicago in 2000, a production he returned to several times during its record-setting run. He took over the role of Frank Butler opposite country star Reba McIntyre in the revival of Annie Get Your Gun in 2001. Critics raved when Barrett co-starred with Karen Ziemba in an Encores concert staging of The Pajama Game (2002). That same year, he starred as Fred/Petruchio in the London revival of Kiss Me Kate (2002), a performance preserved on home video.

 

Booth, Shirley
(b. Thelma Booth Ford)
Actress, singer
b. Aug. 30, 1898 (New York, NY) - d. Oct. 16, 1992 (North Chatham, MA)

This cuddly comedienne got her start at New York's Barbizon Hotel, where she appeared in skits by Dorothy Parker in exchange for room and board. Booth went on to star in thirty Broadway productions, including such memorable comedies as Three Men on a Horse (1937), The Philadelphia Story (1939), My Sister Eileen (1940), Goodbye My Fancy (1949 - winning a Tony for Best Actress in a Play), The Time of the Cuckoo (1952 - 2nd Tony for Best Actress), and The Desk Set (1955). Her moving performance as the frumpy Lola Delaney in Come Back, Little Sheba (1950) brought her both a third Tony and a Drama Critics Award for Best Actress in a Play. She later received the Academy Award for recreating her performance in the 1952 film version.

Proving her versatility, Booth starred as the ebullient Cissy in the musical stage version of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (1951), introducing the Arthur Schwartz-Howard Dietz songs "Love is the Reason" and "He Had Refinement." She also starred in Schwartz & Dietz's By the Beautiful Sea (1954), playing retired vaudevillian Lottie Gibson and singing "I'd Rather Wake Up By Myself." Booth received raves for her performance the title role of Marc Blitzstein's short-lived musical drama Juno (1959). A genial neat freak in real life, Booth was perfectly cast in a long-running sitcom as suburban housemaid Hazel (1961-1966). After playing a nun in the ill-fated musical adaptation of Look to the (1970), she made her last Broadway appearance in a revival of Noel Coward's Hay Fever (1970). Booth enjoyed an extended retirement at her home in Massachusetts until her death at age 94.

 

Duncan, Sandy
Actress, singer, dancer
b. Feb. 20, 1946 (Henderson, TX)

This versatile actress came from a small town in Texas, where her high school prom date was future colleague Tommy Tune. Duncan first won national attention in 1964 as Helen on the daytime drama The Search for Tomorrow. She made her Broadway debut playing several characters in the musical adaptation of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales (1969), for which she received her first Tony nomination. After the short-lived stage comedy Love Is a Time of Day (1969), Duncan earned another Tony nomination playing Maisie in a revival of The Boy Friend (1970).

Duncan became a favorite on network television, appearing in her own 1972 sitcom, as well as a musical version of Pinocchio (1976) that co-starred Danny Kaye, and the acclaimed mini-series Roots (1977). Surgery to remove an ocular tumor left her with sight in only one eye. Soon afterward, she took on the extraordinary physical challenge of starring in a Broadway revival of Peter Pan (1979). Her irresistible characterization, joyous flying and soaring rendition of "Neverland" earned rave reviews and a Tony nomination, and Duncan became the longest running Peter Pan in theatrical history.

In 1980, Duncan married Broadway actor Don Correia. She reunited with old friend Tommy Tune by joining the long-running My One and Only in 1984, performed with Correia (when he took over Tune's role) for several months, and then co-starred with Tune on an extended national tour. Duncan returned to sitcom work by stepping into the cast of NBC's Valerie in 1987, doing so well that the series was re-named The Hogan Family and ran until 1991. While dedicating most of the next decade to raising a family and managing real estate investments, Duncan continued to make concert and TV appearances. She provided the voice of Queen Uberta in the animated feature The Swan Princess (1994), and delighted Broadway audiences when she took over the role of Roxie Hart in the long-running revival of Chicago for several months in 1999.

 

Luker, Rebecca
Actress, singer
b. April 17, 1961 (Birmingham, AL)

After receiving her Bachelor's of Music Degree from the University of Montevallo, this gifted performer made her Broadway debut in the original ensemble of Andrew Lloyd Webber's Phantom of the Opera (1988). With her striking, golden-haired good looks and a breathtaking soprano voice, Luker was soon alternating as Christine, eventually taking on the role fulltime. She created the role of Lily in The Secret Garden (1991), where she introduced "Come to My Garden" and shared "How Was I to Know" with Mandy Patinkin

Luker was cast as Magnolia in Hal Prince's acclaimed revival of Show Boat (1994), for which she received her first Tony nomination. She starred as Maria Von Trapp in the revival of The Sound of Music (1998). Luker was the perfect choice to play Marion Paroo in Susan Stroman's revival of The Music Man (2000), receiving Tony, Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Award nominations. She also appeared Off-Broadway in Maury Yeston's Death Takes a Holiday (2011). Former wife of actor Gregory Jbara (Victor/Victoria, Billly Elliot), she is currently married to actor Danny Burstein (A Class Act, The Drowsy Chaperone, South Pacific), and is in the Alabama Hall of Fame.

 

Marshall, Rob
Dancer, choreographer, director
b. Oct. 17, 1960 (Madison, Wisconsin)

Marshall made his Broadway debut just months after his 1982 graduation from Carnegie Mellon University by joining the cast of Cats. After appearing in the revival of John Kander and Fred Ebb's Zorba (1983), Marshall's talent and solid organizational ability led to his working as both a performer and dance captain in The Rink (1984) and The Mystery of Edwin Drood (1985). He honed his talents as a choreographer in various regional productions, including a Long Beach Civic Light Opera production of Chicago. He received a Tony nomination for his "additional choreography" in Kiss of the Spider Woman (1993), and won consistent raves as the choreographer for acclaimed Broadway revivals of She Loves Me (1993 - Tony nomination), Damn Yankees (1994 - Tony nomination) and Company (1995). Marshall choreographed the Broadway version of Victor/Victoria (1995) and the revival of Forum (1996). He acted as both choreographer and director for the Broadway revivals of Cabaret (1998) and Little Me (1999) – earning Tony nominations for both productions. He received no credit for stepping in to doctor the troubled Seussical (2000).

Marshall was at the forefront of an effort to bring musicals back to television, acting as choreographer for Jerry Herman's Mrs. Santa Claus (1996), and the Disney remakes of Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella (1997) and Strouse & Charnin's Annie (1999). Marshall's innovative direction helped make the long-awaited big screen version of Kander and Ebb's Chicago (2002) a reality. He placed most of the musical sequences in one character's imagination, allowing for an effective blend of cinematic and theatrical elements. The film hit became the first musical to capture the Academy Award for Best Picture in thirty-five years. He also directed the screen version of Nine (2009). Rob's sister is Broadway choreographer Kathleen Marshall.

 

Morison, Patricia
(b. Eileen Patricia Augusta Fraser Morison)
Actress, singer
b. Mar. 19, 1915 (New York, NY)

After making her Broadway debut in the short-lived operetta The Two Bouquets (1938), this attractive, raven-haired soprano went to Hollywood, where she became a familiar character actress in dozens of minor film roles. She returned to Broadway in the ill-fated Allah Be Praised (1944). Cole Porter cast her as the original Lilli Vanessi/Katherine in Kiss Me Kate (1948). With co-star Alfred Drake, she introduced "Wunderbar," "So in Love" and made the most of her show-stopping solo "I Hate Men." Morison took over the role of Anna in The King and I in 1954, and starred in an extended national tour. She reunited with Drake for an NBC-TV version of Kiss Me Kate (1958), a role she continued to perform successfully in regional and international productions until the late 1970s. After playing George Sand in Song Without End (1960), she limited her film and TV appearances to cameos, including a 1989 guest spot on the sitcom Cheers. She made occasional concert appearances through the 1990s, still doing full justice to Porter's Kiss Me Kate hits, and was interviewed in the acclaimed documentary Broadway: The Golden Years (2003).

 

Picon, Molly
(b. Małka Opiekun, or Margaret Pyekoon)
Actress, singer
b. June 1, 1898 (New York, NY) - d. April 5, 1992 (Lancaster, PA)

This diminutive native of Manhattan's Lower East Side made her professional stage debut at the age of six, appearing in dozens of Yiddish productions and touring America's main vaudeville circuits in a series of acts. Barely five feet in height, her talents were so incandescent that she could dominate any stage. By the 1920s, she was America's premier Yiddish theatre star, appearing primarily in comedies and musicals, including hundreds of performances as a boy in Yankele. She made her Broadway debut in the comedy Morning Star (1940), and both performed in and provided lyrics for the autobiographical Broadway musical Oy Is Dus a Leben (1942). Picon had her greatest Broadway triumph playing the man-hunting widow Clara Weiss in Jerry Herman's Milk and Honey (1964), earning her only Tony nomination with her hilarious rendition of "Chin Up Ladies." Picon made frequent appearances on television, most memorably as Mrs. Bronson in Car 54, Where Are You? (1961) and as Grandma Mona in The Facts of Life (1979). Her mainstream film roles include Sophie Baker in Neil Simon's Come Blow Your Horn (1961) and Yente in Fiddler on the Roof (1971). Picon was married to Yiddish actor and playwright Jacob Kalich until his death in 1975.  After making her last Broadway appearance in the ill-fated comedy Something Old, Something New (1977), she continued to make occasional concert appearances and published an autobiography in 1980, was inducted into the Theatre Hall of Fame the following year, and made her final screen appearance in Cannonball Run II (1984). Picon died eight years later of Alzheimer's disease at age 93, and was buried in the Yiddish Theatre section of Mt. Hebron Cemetery in Queens.

 

Reinking, Ann
Actress, dancer, singer, choreographer
b. Nov. 10, 1949 (Seattle, WA)

This lyrical dancer made her Broadway debut in the ensemble of Coco (1969), and endured the one-night flop Wild and Wonderful (1971) before director Bob Fosse selected her as one of the featured dancers in Pippin (1972). It was the beginning of a long professional and private partnership with Fosse, who lived with Reinking while remaining married to actress Gwen Verdon. Reinking won raves for her dancing in the big band musical Over Here (1974), and had her first leading role (and first Tony nomination) playing Joan of Arc in Goodtime Charley (1975). She took over the role of Cassie in A Chorus Line in 1976, and stepped into Verdon's role of Roxie Hart during the original run of Chicago in 1977. 

After receiving a second Tony nomination as a featured dancer in Fosse's Dancin' (1978), Reinking made her screen debut in the underrated Movie, Movie (1978). She played Kate Jagger (a character based on herself) in Fosse's semi-autobiographical film All That Jazz (1979), and was Grace Farrell in the screen version of Annie (1982). She took over the title role in the Broadway revival of Sweet Charity in 1986, then withdrew from the public eye for a time after Fosse's death the following year.

After making some contributions to Tommy Tune's 1992 nightclub act, Reinking choreographed the TV version of Bye Bye Birdie (1995). She co-directed and co-choreographed the acclaimed NY City Center Encores concert staging of Chicago (1996). That one-weekend run caused such a sensation that it was transferred to Broadway, where it became the longest running revival of all time. Reinking's dances, inspired by Fosse's originals, brought her a Tony for Best Choreography. Reinking remained on cordial terms with Gwen Verdon, and they worked together on the dance revue Fosse (1999), which won the Tony for Best Musical – Reinking shared a nomination for Best Director with Richard Maltby. Reinking joined the cast of Fosse late in the Broadway run, and can be seen in the home video version.

 

Ziemba, Karen
Actress, singer
b. Nov. 12, 1957 (St. Joseph, MI)

Raised in suburban Detroit, this electrifying performer danced in Radio City Music Hall's 50th Anniversary Celebration before making her Broadway debut by taking over the role of Morales in A Chorus Line – she also played Bebe, Hillary and Cassie during the run. In 1983, Ziemba took over the role of Peggy Sawyer in 42nd Street, playing opposite Jerry Orbach. After appearing in the short-lived Teddy and Alice (1987), she worked at various regional theatres before being featured in John Kander and Fred Ebb's acclaimed Off-Broadway revue And the World Goes 'Round (1991) – Ziemba's first collaboration with choreographer Susan Stroman.

Ziemba starred as Polly Baker in the national tour of Stroman's Crazy For You (1992), eventually taking over the role on Broadway. She again performed Stroman's choreography creating the role of marathon dancer Rita Racine in Kander & Ebb's short-lived Steel Pier (1997). Ziemba won raves when she took over the role of Roxie Hart during the record-breaking revival of Chicago in 1998. In Stroman's dance musical Contact (2000), Ziemba played a housewife who escapes her unhappy marriage through romantic dance fantasies, and her inspired performance earned a Tony for Best Featured Actress in a Musical. Ziemba co-starred with Brent Barrett in an acclaimed Encores concert staging of The Pajama Game (2002). She received another Tony nomination for creating the role of Mabel in the short-lived Broadway production of Never Gonna Dance (2003), and yet another for creating the role of Georgia in Curtains (2007). One of the musical theatre's brightest lights, she is married to Bill Tatum.

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