Who's Who in Musicals:
Additional Bios V

by John Kenrick

(Copyright 2002)

Edelman, Gregg

Actor, singer
b. Sept. 12, 1958 (Chicago, IL)

This creamy voiced baritone graduated from Northwestern University in 1980, making his Broadway debut in the ensemble of a revival of Oliver (1984). Edelman stepped into various roles during the long run of Cats before being featured as Cliff in Joel Grey's revival of Cabaret (1989). His easygoing stage presence, strong singing voice and wholesome good looks opened the way to a series of leading roles. After briefly taking over the role of Billy Crocker in the Lincoln Center revival of Anything Goes, Edelman created the role of screenwriter Stine in City of Angels (1989), earning his first Tony nomination. He received his second Tony nomination playing Constantine in the short-lived musical version of Anna Karenina (1992). He took over the role of Marvin in Falsettoes early in 1993, and originated the role of Colonel Ricci in Stephen Sondheim's Passion (1994).

Edelman's smoldering performance as pro-slavery congressman Edward Rutledge in the Roundabout Theatre revival of 1776 (1997) earned him another Tony nomination. He took over the role of Javert in Broadway's long-running Les Miserables in 1999, received a fourth Tony nomination playing Cinderella's Prince/The Wolf in a revival of Into the Woods (2002), and originated the role of Dr. Manette in A Tale of Two Cities (2008). He has appeared in various films, including The Cradle Will Rock (1999), and is featured on numerous recordings, including studio versions of Some Enchanted Evening, Babes in Arms and Guys and Dolls. He played Reverend Mr. Crisparkle in the Broadway revival of The Mystery of Edwin Drood (2012). The father of two, Edelman is married to actress Carolee Carmello.

Hines, Gregory

Dancer, actor, singer, choreographer
b. Feb. 14, 1946 (New York City, NY) - d. August 9, 2003 (Los Angeles, CA)

With his father and brother Maurice, this talented African American got his start in a tap dancing act called "Hines, Hines and Dad." Gregory and Maurice made their Broadway debut in The Girl in Pink Tights (1954). The brothers did not return to the legitimate stage until adulthood, when they co-starred in Eubie (1978), a hit revue based on the music of Eubie Blake. This brought Gregory his first Tony nomination. His second came the following year when he starred as Scrooge in the short-lived Comin' Uptown (1979), and his third when he choreographed and starred in the acclaimed Duke Ellington revue Sophisticated Ladies (1981). Gregory made his screen debut as a last minute replacement for an ailing Richard Pryor in Mel Brooks' History of the World Part 1 (1981), and re-teamed with brother Maurice to play characters based on the Nicholas Brothers in the poorly received film The Cotton Club (1984).

Gregory Hines co-starred with Mikhail Baryshnikov in the big screen dance drama White Nights (1985), opening the way to stardom in several non-musical action roles. Hines choreographed Broadway's Jelly's Last Jam (1992), and his electrifying performance as Jelly Roll Morton brought him a Tony for Best Actor in a Musical. An effective dramatic actor, he appeared in literally dozens of films and TV shows, including The Gregory Hines Show (1997), Law and Order (NBC), and the recurring role of egotistical attorney Ben Doucette on the sitcom Will and Grace (NBC). He produced and starred in the TV movie Bojangles (2001), playing legendary dancer Bill Robinson. Diagnosed with liver cancer in 2001, he kept it enough of a secret that most colleagues and fans were shocked by his death less than two years later at age 57.

Johnson, Susan

(b. Marilyn Jeanne Johnson)
Actress, singer
b. July 6, 1927 (Columbus, OH) - d. Feb 24, 2003 (Sacramento, CA)

This attractive blonde belter made her Broadway debut as Meg Brockie in a City Center revival of Brigadoon (1950), then tried to breathe comic life into the disastrous musical Buttrio Square (1952). She created the role of Cleo in Frank Loesser's The Most Happy Fella (1956), where her earthy charm and powerhouse renditions of "Ooh, My Feet" and "Big D" made her an audience favorite. Johnson sang the role of Meg on a Columbia recording of Brigadoon, giving a rousing rendition of "The Real Love of My Life." Her performance as nightclub owner Mae in the unsuccessful Oh Captain! (1958) brought Johnson her only Tony nomination. She starred as bar owner Glenda in the short-lived Whoop-Up (1958), and made her final Broadway appearance as Irish landowner Kathy Carey in Donnybrook! (1961).

In the early 1960s, Johnson starred in a local New York City TV variety series, American Musical Theatre. After sustaining severe injuries in a car accident, she retired to the West Coast to devote herself to raising a family. She continued to make occasional concert appearances in concerts. Sometimes known by her married name (Johnson-Kehn), her only screen appearances were as one of the choir nuns in Sister Act (1992) and Sister Act 2 (1993).

Kert, Larry

(b. Frederick Lawrence Kert)
Actor, singer
b. Dec. 5, 1930 (Los Angeles, CA) - d. June 5, 1991 (New York City, NY)

The younger brother of actress-vocalist Anita Ellis, as a child, Kert appeared in the film Time Out for Lessons (1939) and was a stunt double for Roddy McDowell in Lassie Come Home (1943). As part of a group called "The Upstarts," Kert made his Broadway debut in the revue Tickets Please! (1950). After making an uncredited appearance in the film version of Gentleman Prefer Blondes (1953), he returned to Broadway in the cast of John Murray Anderson's Almanac (1953). A handsome, silvery voiced tenor, Kert created the role of Tony in Leonard Bernstein and Steven Sondheim's West Side Story (1957), introducing "Something's Coming" and "Maria," and sharing the memorable duets "Tonight" and "One Hand, One Heart" with Carol Lawrence. Along with most of the original cast, he repeated his role in the 1960 revival.

Kert played young groom Gerry Siegel in the short-lived Broadway musical A Family Affair (1962), and was featured as Carlos in Breakfast at Tiffany's (1966), which closed in previews. He took over the role of Cliff in the long-running Cabaret in 1968, and appeared in the one-performance disaster La Strada (1969). Kert took over the role of Bobby one month into the run of Stephen Sondheim's Company (1970), earning his only Tony nomination. He repeated that role in the original London cast one year later. Kert was featured in the Broadway revue A Musical Jubilee (1975) and the replacement cast of Side By Side By Sondheim (1977), and made his final Broadway appearance as the ambitious immigrant politician Nathan Hershkowitz in Rags (1986). Kert's only musical film role was as Liza Minnelli's agent in the "Happy Endings" sequence of New York, New York (1977) -- although deleted from the original theatrical release, his performance can be seen in full on the restored DVD edition. Shortly after appearing with Carol Lawrence in a joint cabaret act, Kert died due to complications from AIDS at age 60.

McDonald, Audra Ann

Actress, singer
b. July 3, 1970 (Germany)

Raised in Fresno, California, this multi-faceted African American soprano interrupted her classical voice studies at Juilliard to join the national tour - and later the replacement Broadway cast - as Ayah in The Secret Garden (1993). She triumphed as Carrie Pipperidge in a revival of Carousel (1994), winning a Tony as Best Featured Actress in a Musical. The following season, she won a second Tony (Best Featured Actress in a Play) as aspiring diva Sharon in the drama Master Class (1995). She starred as Sarah in Lynn Ahrens & Stephen Flaherty's musical Ragtime (1998), introducing "Your Daddy's Son" and sharing "Wheels of a Dream" with Brian Stokes Mitchell. McDonald won yet another Tony for Best Featured Actress in a Musical, making her the youngest performer ever to accrue three Tonys. She was nominated the following year for her performance in the title role of Marie Christine (1999), a musical version of Medea.

A powerful actress, McDonald was featured in TV productions of Having Our Say (1999), Annie (1999) and Wit (2001), and has made guest appearances on Law and Order (NBC) and Homicide (NBC). She co-starred in an acclaimed PBS concert staging of Sondheim's Passion in 2005, starred as Lizzie in the revival of 110 in the Shade (2007), and received another Tony (for Best Actress in a Musical) in a revival of Porgy and Bess (2012). She won the same Tony two years later for her acclaimed performance as jazz legend Billie Holiday in Lady Day at Emerson's Bar & Grill (2014). McDonald is married to musician Peter Donovan.

McMartin, John

Actor, singer
b. Nov. 18, 1929 (Warsaw, Indiana)

This versatile Indiana native was raised in Minnesota, and attended college in both Illinois and New York. An early interest in journalism was soon eclipsed by a passion for acting. McMartin's fresh "boy next door" looks and easy baritone made him a smashing success as the original Corporal Billy Jester in the Off-Broadway hit Little Mary Sunshine (1959), introducing "Once in a Blue Moon" and earning a Theatre World Award. He had a minor role in the short-lived Broadway musical The Conquering Hero (1961), and spent the next few years in a series of non-musical roles on stage and screen, including a stint on the daytime drama As the World Turns (1961-63). He received his first Tony nomination originating the role of the neurotic Oscar in Sweet Charity (1966), and repeated his endearing performance in the 1969 film version.

After numerous TV and film roles, McMartin returned to Broadway as the original Benjamin Stone in Stephen Sondheim's Follies (1971), introducing "The Road You Didn't Take" and sharing "Too Many Mornings" with co-star Dorothy Collins. Over the next few years, McMartin appeared in half a dozen Broadway dramas and comedies, earning a Tony nomination for Don Juan (1972). He played the narrator in the short-lived musical Happy New Year (1980), and earned a third Tony nomination playing Captain Andy Hawks in Hal Prince's revival of Show Boat (1994). He was also nominated for his show-stealing performance as Uncle Willie in High Society (1998), and a fifth time for playing the Narrator in a revival of Into the Woods (2002). McMartin appeared in Grey Gardens (2006), and has made dozens of TV appearances, including guest roles on Cheers (NBC), Law and Order (NBC), The Golden Girls (NBC), Frasier (NBC) and Oz (HBO). He returned to Broadway as Elisha J. Whitney in a revival of Anything Goes (2011).

Meehan, Thomas

Librettist, screenwriter
b. August 14, 1929 (Ossining, NY)

Raised in Suffern, NY, Meehan was a longtime staff contributor to The New Yorker magazine. He met lyricist/director Martin Charnin while working on an Emmy-winning TV special for actress Anne Bancroft. Charnin and composer Charles Strouse invited Meehan to provide his first-ever libretto for a seemingly unlikely idea -- a musical based on the Little Orphan Annie comic strip. Annie (1977) became an international hit and brought Meehan his first Tony for Best Book of a Musical. He collaborated with Charnin and composer Richard Rodgers on the unsuccessful musical adaptation of I Remember Mama (1979). Meehan then worked with Bancroft's husband Mel Brooks on the screenplays for To Be or Not to Be (1983) and Spaceballs (1987). Multiple attempts to create a sequel to Annie ended in the poorly received off-Broadway run of Annie Warbucks (1993), and Meehan also provided the book for the short-lived Ain't Broadway Grand (1993) that same season.

When Mel Brooks decided to adapt his hit film The Producers (2001) for Broadway, he asked Meehan to write the book, which brought Meehan one of the show's record-setting 14 Tony Awards. He followed this by co-authoring the book for the acclaimed musical comedy adaptation of Hairspray (2002), earning a third Tony for Best Book of a Musical. Since then, he has also worked on the Broadway libretti for Bombay Dreams (2004), Young Frankenstein (2007), Cry-Baby (2008), and the holiday musical Elf (2010). One of the most prolific librettists in the business, Meehan wrote the scripts for Maury Yeston's Death Takes a Holiday (2011), the unsuccessful Chaplin (2012), and the short-lived Broadway musical Rocky (2014).

Mitchell, Brian Stokes

Actor, singer, dancer
b. Oct. 31, 1957 (Seattle WA)

(Note: Some sources give 1958 as his birth year, but Mr. Mitchell confirms that it was 1957.) With the trim build and stellar looks of a professional model, this charismatic African American actor has become one of Broadway's most popular leading men. He first won attention on TV as John Dolan on the miniseries Roots: The Next Generation (1979) and as Dr. Jackson on Trapper John, MD (1979). Mitchell made his Broadway debut as Franklin in the short-lived musical comedy Mail (1988), receiving a Theatre World Award. He starred as Jimmy Winter in a revival of Oh, Kay! (1990) -- where he met ensemble member Allyson Tucker, who he married four years later. He took over the title role in Jelly's Last Jam in 1993, and stepped into the role of Valentin in Broadway's Kiss of the Spider Woman in 1995.

As the original Coalhouse Walker, Jr. in Lynn Ahrens & Stephen Flaherty's's epic musical version of Ragtime (1999), Mitchell introduced the stirring ballad "Wheels of a Dream" with co-star Audra McDonald, and earned a Tony nomination. He was the natural choice to play Fred/Petruchio in the acclaimed revival of Kiss Me Kate (1999), giving a rollicking performance that brought him the Tony for Best Actor in a Musical.

After starring in the drama King Hedley II (2001), Mitchell scored a personal triumph as Don Quixote in a revival of Man of La Mancha (2002) -- earning Tony nominations for both roles. His acclaimed one man concert Love/Life (which includes some of his own arrangements) has toured extensively. Mitchell's rich baritone was heard on the soundtrack of the animated musical The Prince of Egypt (1998), and he has been a guest on such TV series as Frasier (NBC) and Crossing Jordan. Mitchell has appeared in numerous staged concerts of classic musicals, including an acclaimed performance as Emile in the Carnegie Hall version of South Pacific. He also appeared on Broadway as Ivan in the short-lived musical version of Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown (2010). Since 2004 he has served as chairman of The Actor's Fund.

Nype, Russell

Actor, singer
b. Apr. 26, 1924 (Zion, IL)

This lanky baritone made his Broadway debut singing the role of Leo Huard in Marc Blitzstein's opera Regina (1949). After playing Freddy in the short-lived Great to Be Alive (1950), Nype's disarming comic manner won him the role of diplomat Kenneth Gibson in Irving Berlin's Call Me Madam (1950). He introduced "It's a Lovely Day Today" and shared the showstopping "Just In Love" with Ethel Merman. Nype's crew cut and black-rimmed glasses inspired a fashion trend, and he received the Tony for Best Featured Actor in a Musical. He starred with Janet Blair in a TV production of the musical One Touch of Venus (1955), and appeared in the unsuccessful Broadway comedy Wake Up, Darling (1956). As Elaine Stritch's co-star in the musical Goldilocks (1958), he created the role of George Brown and won a second Tony.

Through the 1960s, Nype appeared in various regional productions, joining Merman for several tours of Call Me Madam. He starred in the short-lived Broadway comedy The Girl in the Freudian Slip (1967). When Merman stepped into the long-running Hello Dolly in 1970, Nype took over the role of Cornelius Hackle. Nype joined the replacement cast of Mornings at Seven in 1981, his last Broadway appearance to date. He had featured roles in various films, including Love Story (1970) and Can't Stop the Music (1980).

Prince, Faith

Actress, singer
b. Aug. 5, 1957 (Augusta, GA)

Born in Georgia and raised in Lynchburg, Virginia, this gifted redhead copped Tony and Drama Desk nominations when she made her New York debut playing Tessie Tura in Jerome Robbins' Broadway (1989). Prince won fresh raves creating the role of Trina in the original Off-Broadway production of William Finn's Falsettoland (1990). After a scene-stealing performance as murder victim Lorraine Bixby in the short-lived Nick and Nora (1991), Prince attained stardom with her Tony-winning performance as Miss Adelaide in the acclaimed revival of Guys and Dolls (1992). Her renditions of "Adelaide's Lament" and "Sue Me" (with co-star Nathan Lane) delighted audiences for several seasons. After starring in the ill-fated comedy What's Wrong With This Picture (1994), she took over the role of Anna during a revival of The King and I (1997), and starred with Martin Short in a revival of Little Me (1998).

Prince took over the role of Gretta in James Joyce's The Dead during its final weeks, and received a Tony nomination for her performance as Ella Peterson in a short-lived revival of Bells Are Ringing (2001). She won raves in an all-star revival of the comedy Noises Off (2001). Prince starred in a studio cast recording of Breakfast at Tiffany's, and is featured on the studio recording of Jerry Herman's Miss Spectacular. Her frequent TV appearances have included guest roles on Spin City (ABC), Law and Order (NBC) and Now and Again (ABC). She returned to Broadway in the poorly received musical version of A Catered Affair (2008). Since then, she has delighted fans by taking over the role of Ursula in the Broadway production of The Little Mermaid in 2009, and taking over as Miss Hannigan during the Broadway revival of Annie in 2014. Prince is married to Broadway musician Larry Lunetta.

Vereen, Ben

Actor, singer, dancer
b. Oct. 10, 1946 (Miami, FL)

This multi-talented African American performer made his Broadway debut as a cast replacement in the long-running Hair (1968), and made his film debut as a "frug dancer" in Sweet Charity (1969) – the first of many affiliations with choreographer/director Bob Fosse. Vereen triumphed as Judas in the original Broadway cast of Webber and Rice's Jesus Christ Superstar (1971), earning his first Tony nomination. He created the role of the Leading Player in Fosse's production of Pippin (1972), introducing Stephen Schwartz's "Magic to Do" and "Glory," and winning the Tony for Best Actor in a Musical. With his lithe figure and sinuous dance style, Vereen was one of the definitive interpreters of Fosse's choreography. Over the next decade, Vereen made numerous film and television appearances, including the film Funny Girl (1975), playing Chicken George in the landmark TV miniseries Roots (1977), and offering a biting burlesque of Sammy Davis Jr. in Fosse's autobiographical film All That Jazz (1979).

Vereen returned to Broadway as a burlesque performer in Grind (1985) – with a star dance turn staged by an uncredited Bob Fosse. Vereen continued to make film and TV appearances, as well as playing countless nightclub and concert gigs. After a near-fatal car accident in 1992, Vereen returned to Broadway a year later to take over the role of the ghostly Chimney Man in Jelly's Last Jam (1993). He interrupted a busy TV and concert career to join the cast of Fosse in 2001, remaining through the end of the run and appearing in the home video version. He co-starred with Judd Hirsch in a revival of I'm Not Rappaport (2002), and has appeared as a prisoner on the acclaimed HBO drama series Oz (2002). In 2005, Vereen took over the role of the Wizard of Oz in the long-running Broadway cast of Wicked. He remains active on TV, with guest appearances on NCIS and Hot in Cleveland.

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