Who's Who in Musicals: Addendum 2004
by John Kenrick

(Copyright 2004)

Auberjonois, Rene
Actor, singer
b. June 1, 1940 (New York City)

A graduate of Carnegie Mellon, this gifted comic actor was the child of a Pulitzer Prize-wining journalist and a princess. He appeared in dozens of regional productions before making his Broadway debut in a 1968 Lincoln Center production of King Lear. He created the role of designer "Sebastian Baye" in Coco (1969). Although a vicious caricature, it was the first "openly gay" featured character in a Broadway musical. Auberjonois's performance included the show-stopping song "Fiasco!," and brought him the Tony for Best Featured Actor in a Musical. He followed this by playing Father Mulcahey in the big screen version of M*A*S*H (1970)

The slender and nimble Auberjonois has alternated between musicals and straight comedies throughout his career. His Broadway musical roles include "The Duke" in Big River (1985), film producer "Irwin S. Irving" in City of Angels (1989), and vampire slaying "Professor Abronsius" in the ill-fated Dance of the Vampires (2002). Auberjonois is well known for his performances on television, including the governor's pompous secretary "Clayton" on Benson, the shape-shifting "Odo" on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, and attorney Paul Lewiston on Boston Legal.

 

Cook, Will Marion
Composer, performer
b. Jan. 27, 1869 (Washington, DC) - d. July 19, 1944 (New York )

A graduate of Oberlin College, Cook became the first African American composer to break through the color barrier to Broadway. With a combination of talent and bravado, his Clorindy (1898) became the first black musical to play (albeit briefly) on Broadway. Cook had better luck with In Dahomey (1903), a vehicle for Bert Williams and George Walker that followed a modest New York run with a sensational success in London.

Known for his erratic temper, Cook continued his association with Williams & Walker, providing scores for Abyssinia (1906) and Bandana Land (1908). Although these shows still used old racial stereotypes, they made the first serious efforts to depict blacks as multi-dimensional characters. When the vogue for all-black musicals faded, Cook continued interpolating songs in Broadway scores.

 

Coyne, Joseph E.
Actor, singer
b. Mar. 27, 1867 (New York City) - d. Feb. 17, 1941 (Surrey, UK)

After making his Broadway at age 13, Coyne developed his talents as a light comedian in vaudeville. After a series of minor Broadway roles, he moved to England, where he soon garnered the role he is best remembered for, "Prince Danilo" in the first English-speaking production of The Merry Widow (1907). Coyne thought himself miscast, but his nimble depiction of dissipated nobility won him lasting star status on the West End. His played the male leads in London's The Dollar Princess (1909), The Quaker Girl (1910), and The Girl From Utah (1913), among many other musical hits. At age 58, Coyne received fresh acclaim as the youthful attorney "Jimmy Smith" in No, No, Nanette (1925). After several disappointing follow-ups, he retired from the stage in 1931.

 

Dare, Phyllis
(b. Phyllis Haddie Dones)
Actress, singer
b. Aug. 15, 1890 (London, UK) - d. April 27, 1975 (Brighton)

Dare, Zena
(b. Florence Hariette Zena Dones)
Actress, singer
b. Feb 4, 1887 (London, UK) - d. March 11, 1975 (London)

The Dare sisters got their start as children appearing in holiday pantomimes. Zena Dare created the lead role in Catch of the Season (1905), and had several minor success before moving on to marriage and a career in non-musical roles -- including a song-free role in Ivor Novello's Perchance to Dream (1945) and King's Rhapsody (1949 costarring Novello and Zena's sister Phyllis. Zena made her final appearance as "Mrs. Higgins" in the London cast of My Fair Lady (1958), a role she played with relish for seven years.

Phyllis Dare made her West End debut at age 11. She graduated to leads by taking over Zena's role in The Catch of the Season (1905). Phyllis went on to star as "Eileen" in The Arcadians (1909), "Dora" in The Girl From Utah (1913), "Sally" in Miss Hook of Holland (1914), and "Fay Blake" in Lido Lady (1926). Dare segued into non-musical roles, making her final singing appearance as "Marta" in King's Rhapsody (1949). Phyllis died just six weeks after her sister.

 

DeGresac, Fred
(b. Frederique Rosine DeGresac)
Librettist
b. 1866 (France) - d. Feb. 20, 1943 (Hollywood)

In a business dominated by men, this stylish woman wrote under a masculine pseudonym. After winning notoriety in France with her innovative coverage of the Dreyfus case, she moved to America and found herself collaborating on a series of musicals with music by Victor Herbert -- including The Enchantress (1911), Sweethearts (1913), and Orange Blossoms (1922).

 

Hoschna, Karl L.
Composer
b. Aug. 16, 1877 (Kuschwarda, Bohemia) - d. Dec. 22, 1911 (New York City)

Trained in Vienna, Hoschna emigrated to America and played oboe in Victor Herbert's orchestra before working as an arranger & composer for Tin Pan Alley. He began contributing songs to musicals, usually in collaboration with lyricist Otto Harbach. Their first complete score to reach Broadway was Three Twins (1910), which included "Cuddle Up a Little Closer To Me." They had even better luck providing an all-new book and score for the popular American adaptation of Madame Sherry (1910), which included "Every Little Movement Has a Meaning All It's Own." Hoschna churned out five more musicals in the next year, including The Fascinating Widow (1911), a Broadway vehicle for female impersonator Julian Eltinge. Hoschna died at age 34.

 

Hoyt, Charles Hale
Librettist, lyricist, producer
b. 1860 (Concord, NH) - d. Nov. 20, 1900 (New York City)

One of the most prolific comic playwrights of the 19th Century, Hoyt created several libretti for musical farce comedies, including two memorable hits. A Trip to Chinatown (1891) had a record-setting Broadway run, and Hoyt contributed the lyric for the hit song "The Bowery." He also adapted his comedy A Parlor Match as an 1896 musical vehicle for Ziegfeld star Anna Held. Hoyt occasionally acted as producer of his projects, becoming one of the wealthiest theatrical personalities of his time. Suffering from symptoms of advanced syphilis, he died at age 40.

 

Keene, Laura
Actress, manager, producer
b. July 20, 1826 (Winchester, England) - d. Nov. 4, 1873 (Montclair, NJ)

After touring Great Britain with comedienne Madame Vestris, the attractive actress made her Broadway debut in Lester Wallack's company in 1852.  Keene toured extensively and ran her own company in San Francisco before returning to New York in 1855 as Broadway's first successful female actor-manager. She built her own Broadway theatre, Laura Keene's Varieties, where she produced and starred in a repertory of comedies and occasional musical burlesques, moving to a new, larger theatre in 1856. While delighting the public, the dictatorial Keene frequently ruffled the feathers of her fellow actors. Her lifelong battle with tuberculosis makes her success in a grueling male-dominated profession all the more remarkable.

At a time when a month long Broadway run was considered a hit, Keene's "musical burletta" The Seven Sisters (1860) ran for 253 performances, the longest continuous theatrical run up to that time.. In 1863, the financial uncertainties caused by the Civil War forced Keene to give up her theatre. She took her company on an ongoing national tour, relying on a non-musical repertory. On April 14, 1865, President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated during Keene's performance in the comedy hit Our American Cousin at Fords Theatre in Washington, DC. After calming the riotous audience, she cradled the dying president's head in her lap. Although Keene had no connection with the plot, she never escaped the shadow of that tragedy. She toured and lectured, occasionally displaying the dress soaked with Lincoln's blood. Keene died of a tubercular hemorrhage at age 47.

 

Mann, Terrence V.
Actor, singer, dancer
b. July 1, 1951
After appearing in the North Carolina Shakespeare Festival and the Off-Broadway production of A Night at the Fights (1979), this handsome and athletic actor made his Broadway debut in the ensemble of Barnum (1980). He was Broadway's first "Rum Tum Tugger" in Cats (1982), leaping about the audience with manic Mick Jagger-esque glee. A tall and handsome baritone with powerful stage presence, Mann graduated to leading man status as "Saul" in the short lived Rags (1986). He received a Tony nomination for his memorable performance as "Javert" in Les Miserables (1987) and took over as narrator of Jerome Robbins Broadway in 1990.

Mann created the role of "The Beast" in Disney's stage version of Beauty and the Beast (1994), earning his second Tony nomination. After appearing in the short-lived drama Getting Away With Murder (1996), he originated the role of the conniving "Chauvelin" in Frank Wildhorn's The Scarlet Pimpernel (1997). He took over as "Frankenfurter" during the Broadway revival of The Rocky Horror Show (2001), and appeared as stuffy "Mal Beineke" in The Addams Family (2010). Mann is married to fellow Broadway musical star Charlotte d'Amboise.

 

Matthews, Jessie
Dancer, singer, actress
b. Mar. 11, 1907 (London, UK) - d. Aug. 19, 1981 (Pinner, UK)

One of the London stage's most popular stars, Matthews got her start as a chorus dancer in several West End shows, and traveled to Broadway for Andre Charlot's Revue (1924) and Earl Carroll's Vanities (1927). She also appeared in Noel Coward's hit London revue This Year of Grace (1928) and the West End and New York productions of Wake Up and Dream (1929). Matthews starred in Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart's London hit Ever Green, introducing "Dancing on the Ceiling" – a task she repeated in the 1934 screen version. She appeared in half a dozen London shows and three films with her second husband, musical comedy star Sonnie Hale. Several mediocre film and stage musicals led Matthews to withdraw from public performance for many years, returning to appear in the film Tom Thumb (1958). She continued to appear on stage and television, making concert appearances through the late 1970s. One of her final professional roles was as Wallis Simpson's "Aunt Bessie" in the TV mini series Edward and Mrs. Simpson (1980).

 

McHugh, Jimmy
Composer
b. July 10, 1894 (Boston, MA) - d. May 23, 1969 (Beverly Hills, CA)

Dubbed by columnist Bernard Sobel as "the most affable" of Broadway's golden age composers, McHugh worked amicably with numerous lyricists, but is best remembered for his work with Dorothy Fields. After composing several songs for Harlem's legendary Cotton Club, they created the score for Broadway's Blackbirds of 1928, which included "I Can't Give You Anything But Love" and "Doin' the New Low Down." And although Lew Leslie's International Revue (1930) failed, it's McHugh-Fields score boasted two major hits: "Exactly Like You" and "On the Sunny Side of the Street." The team moved to Hollywood in the early 1930s, where they turend out such hits as "Cuban Love Song" and gradually (and cordially) chose to work with new collaborators.

Well-liked and professionally admired by his colleagues, McHugh contributed songs to dozens of films. He could turn out melodies with seemingly effortless speed, even while driving a car. Readily able to adapt to a variety of styles and genres, he kept turning out hit songs through the mid-1950s – a remarkable feat considering the changes in popular taste during those years.

 

McLellan, Charles Morton
(aka - "Hugh Morton")
Librettist
b. 1865 (Bath, Maine) - d. Sept. 22, 1916 (London)

This former journalist teamed with composer Gustave Kerker (1857-1923) to create several Broadway musicals, including The Belle of New York (1897) -- which went from a modest New York run to become a major hit in London. McLellan wrote seven more libretti, most with composer Ivan Caryll -- including the Broadway favorite The Pink Lady (1911). His career was cut short by his death at age 51.

 

Murphy, Donna
Actress, singer
b. May 7, 1958 (Queens, NY)

This New York native made her Broadway debut as a replacement "Voice of Sonia" in the long-running hit They're Playing Our Song (1980). After serving as an understudy in the musical adaptation of The Human Comedy (1984), Murphy took over the gender-switched title role in The Mystery of Edwin Drood (1986). Her searing portrayal of "Fosca" in Stephen Sondheim's Passion (1994) earned the Tony for Best Actress in a Musical. Murphy copped a second Tony playing "Anna" in an innovative revival of The King and I (1996). Noted for her serious portrayals, this versatile actress surprised many with her comic performance as "Ruth Sherwood" in an acclaimed revival of Wonderful Town (2003). She won fresh acclaim in the Encores concert series playing "Phyllis" in Follies (2007) and "Cora Hooper" in Anyone Can Whistle (2009). She is married to actor Shawn Elliott.

 

Payne, Edmund
Actor, singer
b. 1865 (London) - d. July 1, 1914 (London)

The diminutive comedy star of the Gaiety Theatre musicals first worked for producer George Edwardes as "Shrimp" in In Town (1892). Supporting roles in Don Juan (1893) and The Shop Girl (1894) led to a long series of star comic parts in The Circus Girl (1896), A Runaway Girl (1898), The Toreador (1900), The Girls of Gottenberg (1907) and Our Miss Gibbs (1909), among others. Soon after illness forced Payne out of rehearsals for The Girl From Utah, he died at age 49.

 

Rice, Thomas Dartmouth
Minstrel, singer, dancer
b. May 20, 1808 (New York) - d. Sept. 19, 1860 (NYC)

A minor traveling performer, Rice stumbled into history in 1828 when a Louisville street dancer inspired him to put on blackface make-up and perform of an old Negro singing "Jump Jim Crow." This hateful racial parody delighted audiences, bringing Rice international fame. Rice went on to depict Jim Crow in a series of 1830s burlesque musicals that he called "Ethiopian Operas." While Rice was certainly not the first white performer to use blackface, his unprecedented success inspired the rise of minstrelsy. He appeared with several minstrel troupes in the 1840s, but was bankrupt by the time paralysis led to his death at age 58.

 

Strauss, Johann, II
Composer
b. Oct. 25, 1852 (Vienna) - d. June 3, 1899 (Vienna)

The most popular composer of his time, Strauss was a natural fit for the musical stage. Inspired by the success of Jacques Offenbach, Vienna's beloved "Waltz King" provided the music for fifteen operettas, several of which became international favorites. Die Fledermaus (1874) is his best known score, still staged by major opera companies all over the world -- and its giddy overture remains a "classical standard." Cagliostro in Wein (1975), Ein Nacht in Venedig (1883) and Der Zigeunerbaron (1885) are still occasionally heard. Several successful musicals have posthumously used Strauss melodies, including Wiener Blut (1899), Walzer aus Wein (1930) and the stage and screen versions of The Great Waltz.

 

Testa, Mary
Actress, singer
b. June 4, 1955 (Philadelphia, PA)

This gifted comic actress made her Broadway debut as an ensemble replacement in Barnum (1982). She played gossip columnist "Hedda Hopper" in the short lived Marilyn (1983), and was a standby for "Angel" in The Rink (1984). Testa won long overdue attention as the imperious "Domina" in an acclaimed revival of A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum (1996), and as "Madame Maude" in a short-lived revival of On The Town (1998) -- for which she received her first Tony nomination. She created the role of "Magdalena" in Marie Christine (1999), an operatic adaptation of Medea. Testa was riotous as "Maggie" in the long-running revival of 42nd Street (2001), earning her second Tony nomination. She played the dual roles of "Melpomene" and "Medusa" in Xanadu (2007), and "General Matilda B. Cartwright" in the unsuccessful revival of Guys and Dolls (2009). Her numerous television roles include a cabaret singer on Sex in the City (2002), and she appeared in the film Eat Pray Love (2010)

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