Judy Kaye
Born (1948-10-11) October 11, 1948 (age 75)
Occupation(s)Singer, actress
Years active1972–present
SpouseDavid Green

Judy Kaye (born October 11, 1948) is an American singer and actress. She has appeared in stage musicals, plays, and operas. Kaye has been in long runs on Broadway in the musicals The Phantom of the Opera, Ragtime, Mamma Mia!, and (in a second Tony award-winning role) Nice Work If You Can Get It.

Early life

Kaye was born in Phoenix, Arizona, the daughter of Shirley Edith (née Silverman) and Jerome Joseph Kaye, a physician.[1] She attended UCLA, studying drama and voice.[2][3] "Her voice spans three octaves. She started out as a mezzo and now sings all the way up to an E natural...but basically she feels she is now a soprano."[4] She "easily shifts between Broadway belt and soaring soprano" according to Playbill.com.[5]


Kaye made her Broadway debut as a replacement Rizzo in the original company of Grease in the 1970s. Her next show was the Broadway musical On the Twentieth Century (1978), playing only the small role of the maid Agnes, and also the understudy for leading lady Madeline Kahn. Kahn left the show early in the run, and Kaye took over the lead role. The New York Times reported "Judy Kaye replaced Madeline Kahn...and bang, boom, overnight she is a star."[6][7] Kaye also toured the US in the musical.

Her next two Broadway ventures flopped. The Moony Shapiro Songbook (1981), a campy spoof of songwriter-based revues like Side by Side by Sondheim and Ain't Misbehavin', closed after fifteen previews and one official performance. Frank Rich, in his New York Times review, wrote "Two members of the company suggest what might have been - Judy Kaye, a skilled musical-comedy comedienne who sings a pretty ballad at a white piano."[8] In November 1981 Oh, Brother!, which transplanted William Shakespeare's The Comedy of Errors to the Middle East, closed after thirteen previews and three official performances.[9] Frank Rich's New York Times review noted that "Judy Kaye, while getting campier each time out, remains a big belter with a sure comic sense."[10]

She was featured in the 1987 concert version of the rarely produced musical Magdalena. In 1988, Kaye returned to Broadway as Carlotta in The Phantom of the Opera,[11] She won the 1988 Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Musical for this role.[12]

It was nearly a decade before her next Broadway role, appearing as Emma Goldman in Ragtime from 1997 to 2000.[13] She was the only principal to remain with that show for its entire run, where she showcased her remarkable range as she sang the Goldman alto part while hitting the B5 high note in the opening prologue.[14][15] In 2000, she played Mrs. Lovett opposite Len Cariou as Todd and Davis Gaines as Anthony in a London concert of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street.[16] Next on Broadway, she appeared as "Rosie" in Mamma Mia! in 2001–2003,[17] and received a Tony Award nomination as Best Featured Actress in a Musical.[18]

Kaye has performed extensively in regional theatre, in roles as widely varied as both Julie Jordan and Nettie Fowler in Carousel, Annie Oakley in Annie Get Your Gun, Nellie Forbush in South Pacific, Meg in Brigadoon, Hildy in On the Town, Lalume in Kismet, Lili Vanessi in Kiss Me, Kate, Pistache in Can-Can, Babe Williams in The Pajama Game, the Old Lady in Candide, Maria in The Sound of Music, Rose in Gypsy, Anna in The Anastasia Game, Aldonza in Man of La Mancha, Lucy in You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown, Sally in Follies (1995, Theatre Under the Stars),[19] Mary Magdalene in Jesus Christ Superstar.[20]

Kaye's non-musical roles have included such classics as The Man Who Came to Dinner and You Can't Take It with You (1996, Connecticut Repertory Theatre, Storrs). In 1996 she performed in The Royal Family at the McCarter Theater in Princeton, New Jersey as Kitty Dean.[21] She appeared in Lost in Yonkers in 2011 as Grandma Kurnitz at the Arizona Theatre Company in Phoenix, Arizona.[22]

Kaye appeared in Stephen Temperley's Souvenir and "drew raves for her humorous, yet touching work" with her portrayal of the legendarily bad singer Florence Foster Jenkins.[23] The play originally ran Off-Broadway in November 2004 to January 2005.[24] After a production at the Berkshire Theatre Festival in August to September 2005, it premiered on Broadway, from October 2005 to January 2006,[25] and she has since performed it in several venues in the United States.[26] Ben Brantley, in his New York Times review, wrote: "Ms. Kaye strikes that single note of personality with a happy mixture of ardor, unblinking obliviousness and ... pitch-perfect period detail."[27]

In June 2006, Kaye assumed the role of Mrs. Lovett in Sweeney Todd on Broadway for one week during Patti LuPone's vacation.[28] She returned in August 2006, when LuPone left for a week to play "Rose" in Gypsy.[29] She went on to play Mrs. Lovett in the 2007–2008 North American Tour of Sweeney Todd.[30][31] The Curtain Up review of that tour in Los Angeles praised Kaye, stating: "There's humor in this production ... Much of that is due to Kaye's impeccable timing, the delicacy of her yearning and her way with a tuba."[32] Kaye had previously played Mrs. Lovett in the Paper Mill Playhouse production of Sweeney in 1991. The New York Times reviewer wrote of her performance there, "it's going to be tough to come up with a Todd and a Mrs. Lovett comparable to George Hearn and Judy Kaye. ... Ms. Kaye's voluptuous voice taps and illuminates musical treasures. The ribaldry, seductiveness and wit of her performance appear thoroughly rooted in Mrs. Lovett's love for Todd."[33]

The musical Paradise Found featured Kaye in a production co-directed by Harold Prince and Susan Stroman at the Menier Chocolate Factory in London from May – June 2010. She appeared in the musical adaption of Tales of the City at the American Conservatory Theater, San Francisco, California, from May through July 2011, as Anna Madrigal.[34]

She starred in the musical Nice Work If You Can Get It, which opened on Broadway in April 2012.[35] She won the Tony Award, Drama Desk Award and Outer Critics Circle Award for this role.[36][37][38] In 2014, she played General Matila Cartwright in Guys and Dolls at Carnegie Hall. Later that year, she joined the Broadway production of Cinderella as the Fairy Godmother and remained with the show till its final performance on January 3, 2015.[39]

From February to October 2016, Kaye performed the role of Madame Morrible in the Broadway production of Wicked.[40][41] She then took over the role of the Dowager Empress in the Broadway production of Anastasia from September 2018 through January 2019.[42][43]

On November 17, 2021, Kaye opened in the Broadway production of Diana,The Musical at the Longacre Theater. She plays the roles of Queen Elizabeth II and the novelist Barbara Cartland, who was Princess Diana's step-grandmother.[44]

Opera, operetta, and recordings

She has performed frequently in opera, operetta and older musicals, including leading roles in The Beggar's Opera, Orpheus in the Underworld, Leave It to Jane, Oh, Lady! Lady!!, The Cat and the Fiddle, and Trouble in Tahiti.[7] She appeared in concert at The Town Hall, New York, in Eileen and Sweethearts (1983)[45] and Sweet Adeline (1985).[20][46]

In August 1990 she played Musetta in the Santa Fe Opera production of La Bohème.[47] She debuted the role of Abbie in the premiere of composer Edward Thomas' musical version of Eugene O'Neill's Desire Under the Elms, presented by the New York Opera Repertory Theater in 1989.[48] She performed the title role in The Merry Widow at the Paper Mill Playhouse (Millburn, New Jersey) in 1991.[49] She has appeared with opera companies and orchestras such as the Santa Fe Opera (1985 and 1990), the New York City Opera (1989), the New York Philharmonic (1990), the Boston Pops Orchestra (1990), and the London Symphony Orchestra (1990).

Kaye has made several recordings, including Where, Oh, Where?: Rare Songs of the American Theater (Premier), Diva to Diva (Varèse Sarabande), which focus on musical theatre and "great musical theatre women", and Judy Kaye: Songs From The Silver Screen (Varèse Sarabande), saluting women singing in movie musicals.[50] Two other CDs partner her with the baritone William Sharp, one an all-George Gershwin program, the other all-Leonard Bernstein; the latter includes the world-premiere recording of Bernstein's Arias and Barcarolles.[51]

Kaye is featured on six tracks of John McGlinn's EMI disc Broadway Showstoppers, four of them numbers from Jerome Kern's Sweet Adeline (including the ballad "Why Was I Born?") and one a first-ever recording of the "Duet for One (The First Lady of the Land)", the tour-de-force from Leonard Bernstein and Alan Jay Lerner's 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.[52] She was featured on the 1997 Varèse Sarabande studio recording of the 1965 musical Drat! The Cat![53]

Kinsey Millhone books

Kaye is the voice for the audiobooks of Sue Grafton's Kinsey Millhone series.[22][54]

Personal life

Kaye lives in New Jersey with her husband, David Green, in an apartment overlooking Manhattan.[55]

Awards and nominations

Year Award Category Work Result Ref.
1978 Drama Desk Award Outstanding Actress in a Musical On the Twentieth Century Nominated [56]
Theatre World Award Honouree [57]
1988 Tony Award Best Featured Actress in a Musical The Phantom of the Opera Won [58]
Drama Desk Award Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical Nominated [56]
2002 Tony Award Best Featured Actress in a Musical Mamma Mia! Nominated [58]
Drama Desk Award Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical Nominated [56]
2005 Drama Desk Award Outstanding Actress In A Play Souvenir Nominated [59]
Drama League Award Distinguished Performance Nominated [60]
Lucille Lortel Award Outstanding Lead Actress Nominated [61]
2006 Tony Award Best Actress In A Play Nominated [58]
2012 Tony Award Best Featured Actress in a Musical Nice Work If You Can Get It Won [58]
Drama Desk Award Outstanding Featured Actress In A Musical Won [36]
Outer Critics Circle Award Outstanding Featured Actress In A Musical Won [37]
2022 Golden Raspberry Awards Worst Supporting Actress Diana Won [62]


  1. ^ Bio filmreference.com
  2. ^ Flatow, Sheryl.Broadways Favorite Diva" judykaye.com (reprint from Playbill.com), accessed March 19, 2011
  3. ^ "NOTABLE ALUMNI ACTORS". UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television. Archived from the original on October 6, 2014. Retrieved September 29, 2014.
  4. ^ Lopinto, Maryann."Meet Judy Kaye - The Phantom's Diva" judykaye.com (reprint from Show Music Magazine), accessed March 19, 2011
  5. ^ Gans, Andrew."Diva Talk:Chatting with Souvenir Star Judy Kaye, Alice Ripley On High and News of Cook and Moore" Playbill.com, December 17, 2004
  6. ^ Corry, John. New York Times, May 5, 1978, p. C2
  7. ^ a b Gromberg, Alan."Spotlight on Judy Kaye", talkinbroadway.com, accessed March 10, 2009
  8. ^ Rich, Frank."Theater:'Moony Shapiro Songbook' The New York Times, May 4, 1981
  9. ^ "'Oh, Brother! Listing" Internet Broadway Database, accessed March 19, 2011
  10. ^ Rich, Frank."The Stage: 'Oh, Brother!,' A Musical'" The New York Times, November 11, 1981
  11. ^ Rich, Frank. "Stage: 'Phantom of the Opera'" The New York Times, January 27, 1988
  12. ^ 1988 "Tony Awards" infoplease.com, accessed March 19, 2011
  13. ^ Brantley, Ben. "THeater Review: 'Ragtime': A Diorama With Nostalgia Rampant" The New York Times, January 19, 1998
  14. ^ Jones, Kenneth."Broadway Ragtime Closing January 16; National Tour Journeys On" Playbill.com, January 14, 2000
  15. ^ Broadway's "RAGTIME" Reunion: Stars in the House
  16. ^ Kaye, Cariou & Gaines to do London Sweeney Concerts, Feb. 13
  17. ^ "'Mamma Mia!' Listing" Internet Broadway Database, accessed March 19, 2011
  18. ^ Gans, Andrew. "Tony Winner Judy Kaye to Depart 'Mamma Mia!' in October", Playbill.com, June 25, 2003
  19. ^ "1995 Theater Under the Stars Production" sondheimguide.com, accessed March 20, 2011
  20. ^ a b Judy Kaye biography filmreference.com, accessed March 10, 2009
  21. ^ Ridley, Clifford A."A `Royal Family' That's Slightly Mismatched", philly.com, October 4, 1996
  22. ^ a b Bio Archived August 7, 2011, at the Wayback Machine, arizonatheatre.org, accessed March 20, 2011
  23. ^ Gans, Andrew. "Diva Talk: Catching Up with Souvenir's Judy Kaye Plus News of Streisand and Stritch", playbill.com, November 2005
  24. ^ Gans, Andrew. "Judy Kaye to Star in York Theatre's Souvenir Beginning Nov. 23" Playbill, September 28, 2004
  25. ^ "Souvenir Broadway" Archived November 9, 2015, at the Wayback Machine playbillvault.com, accessed November 2, 2015
  26. ^ Gans, Andrew. "Tony Winner Kaye Reprises Role of Off-Key Singer in A.C.T.'s 'Souvenir' Starting Feb. 13", playbill.com, February 13, 2009
  27. ^ Brantley, Ben. "A Mighty Squeal From a Big Heart", The New York Times, November 11, 2005.
  28. ^ "Kaye cues up for Sweeney", Daily Variety, May 19, 2006, Vol. 291, No. 35, p. 2
  29. ^ Osborne, Robert. "Rambling Reporter", VNU Entertainment News Wire (The Hollywood Reporter), August 8, 2006
  30. ^ Lipton, Brian. "Judy Kaye and David Hess to Star in Sweeney Todd Tour", theatermania.com, May 7, 2007
  31. ^ Hernandez, Ernio. "Slice of Life: Judy Kaye and Company Begin Sweeney Todd Pre-Tour SF Stint, Aug. 30", playbill.com, August 30, 2007
  32. ^ Hitchcock, Laura. "Review"Sweeney Todd Goes West", curtainup.com, March 12, 2008
  33. ^ Klein, Alvin. Sweeney Todd, in All Its Musical Power" The New York Times, November 15, 1991
  34. ^ Hetrick, Adam. " Tales of the City 'Bites Into That Lotus' As New Musical Opens in San Francisco May 31" Archived June 3, 2011, at the Wayback Machine, playbill.com, May 31, 2011
  35. ^ McGrath, Charles. "Ferris Bueller’s Nights Onstage", The New York Times, April 5, 2012
  36. ^ a b Gans, Andrew. "Once, Tribes, Follies, Salesman, Audra McDonald, Danny Burstein and More Are Drama Desk Winners" Archived June 6, 2012, at the Wayback Machine, playbill.com, June 3, 2012
  37. ^ a b Gans, Andrew. "Outer Critics Circle Winners Announced; Once and One Man, Two Guvnors Are Top Winners" Archived May 16, 2012, at the Wayback Machine, playbill.com, May 14, 2012
  38. ^ Jones, Kenneth. " Once, Clybourne Park, Porgy and Bess, Audra McDonald, Salesman Win 2012 Tony Awards" Archived June 7, 2014, at the Wayback Machine, playbill.com, June 10, 2012
  39. ^ "It's Possible! Judy Kaye Will Join Cinderella Cast as 'Fairy Godmother'", August 11, 2014, accessed September 20, 2014
  40. ^ "Carrie St. Louis, Judy Kaye, Peter Scolari & More Will Join Broadway's 'WICKED' Next Month!", broadwayworld.com, January 21, 2016, accessed January 16, 2016
  41. ^ "Broadway's Wicked to Welcome Dreamgirls Star Sheryl Lee Ralph", broadway.com, October 14, 2016, accessed March 3, 2018
  42. ^ "Judy Kaye To Join ANASTASIA as The Dowager Empress", broadwayworld.com, September 20, 2018, accessed January 2, 2019
  43. ^ "Constantine Germanacos and Penny Fuller Will Join the Company of ANASTASIA", broadwayworld.com, December 6, 2018, accessed January 2, 2019
  44. ^ Green, Jesse (November 18, 2021). "'Diana, the Musical' Review: Exploiting the People's Princess". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved November 22, 2021.
  45. ^ Wilson, John. "Operetta Sweethearts At Town Hall", The New York Times, December 17, 1983
  46. ^ Wilson, John. "Music: Kern's Adeline Is Revived", The New York Times, May 24, 1985
  47. ^ Henahan, Donal. "Review/Opera; Boheme Artists Who Look the Part", The New York Times, August 4, 1990, p. 13
  48. ^ Rothstein, Mervyn. O'Neill Centenary: Celebrating the Master", The New York Times, October 13, 1988
  49. ^ Klein, Alvin. "Theater: Nonstop Gaiety in Merry Widow" The New York Times, April 28, 1991
  50. ^ Mandelbaum, Ken. Ken Mandelbaum's Musicals on Disc: A Varese Sarabande Trio", Playbill.com, April 9, 1998
  51. ^ Arias and Barcarolles, Songs and Duets: Stabler, David. "Kaye Shines In Bernstein Song Cycle; Record Reviews", The Oregonian (Portland, Oregon), May 5, 1990, p. C10
  52. ^ Edwards, Adrian. "Review"[permanent dead link], gramophone.net, August 1993
  53. ^ Mandelbaum, Ken. "Ken Mandelbaum's Musicals On Disc: Beast, Drat!, Sunset, etc.", Playbill.com, September 14, 1997.
  54. ^ Books Read by Judy Kaye" library.booksontape.com; accessed March 20, 2011
  55. ^ Siegel, Micki. "At Home With Judy Kaye, a Fairy Godmother's New Jersey Getaway" Playbill, November 1, 2014
  56. ^ a b c "Judy Kaye – Broadway Cast & Staff | IBDB". www.ibdb.com. Retrieved March 29, 2021.
  57. ^ "Theatre World Awards - Theatre World Awards". www.theatreworldawards.org. Retrieved March 29, 2021.
  58. ^ a b c d "The Tony Award Nominations". www.tonyawards.com. Retrieved March 29, 2021.
  59. ^ Jones, Kenneth (May 23, 2005). "Doubt, Spamalot, Twelve Angry Men, La Cage Win 2005 Drama Desk Awards". Playbill. Retrieved March 29, 2021.
  60. ^ "2005 Drama League Award Winners Announced | TheaterMania". www.theatermania.com. May 13, 2005. Retrieved March 29, 2021.
  61. ^ "2005 Nominees". The Lucille Lortel Awards. Retrieved March 29, 2021.
  62. ^ Lewis, Hilary (February 7, 2022). "Razzies: Filmed Version of 'Diana' Stage Musical Tops 2022 Nominees". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved February 7, 2022.