Kuhn in 2015
|Born||May 20, 1958|
New York City, New York, U.S.
Judy Kuhn (born May 20, 1958) is an American actress and singer, known for her work in musical theatre. A four-time Tony Award nominee, she has released four studio albums and sang the title role in the 1995 film Pocahontas, including her rendition of the song "Colors of the Wind", which won its composers the Academy Award for Best Original Song.
Kuhn made her professional stage debut in 1981 and her Broadway debut in the 1985 original production of the musical The Mystery of Edwin Drood. Subsequent Broadway roles include Cosette in Les Misérables (1987), Florence Vassy in Chess (1988) and Amalia Balash in She Loves Me (1993). For all three, she received Tony Award nominations. She also received an Olivier Award nomination for her 1989 West End debut playing Maria/Futura in Metropolis. Other musical roles include Betty Schaeffer in the 1993 US premiere production of Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles, and her Obie Award winning role as Emmie in the 2001 Off-Broadway production of Eli's Comin. She received a fourth Tony nomination in 2015 for her role as Helen Bechdel in the original Broadway production of Fun Home, and a second Olivier nomination in 2020 for her role as Golde in a London revival of Fiddler on the Roof.
Kuhn (pronounced kyoon) was born in New York City to Jewish parents and grew up in Bethesda, Maryland. She attended Georgetown Day School in Washington, D.C. She entered Oberlin College. After taking voice lessons with Frank Farina, Kuhn transferred into the Oberlin Conservatory of Music. Kuhn was also interested in musical theater and other types of music, in addition to classical music for which the Conservatory is best known. She trained as an "operatic soprano" at Oberlin, and graduated in 1981.
After college, she moved to Boston, where she waited tables and studied acting. After appearing in summer stock, Kuhn moved back to New York.
Her Broadway debut was in Drood, a Rupert Holmes musical based on the unfinished Charles Dickens novel, in 1985. She played the roles of "Alice / Miss Isabel Yearsley/ Succubae" and understudied the title role played by Betty Buckley. Her next appearance on Broadway was in the ill-fated Rags, which opened on August 21, 1986 and closed after four performances.
Her next role of Cosette in the 1987 multiple award-winning Broadway production of Les Misérables brought her the first Tony Award nomination, as Best Featured Actress in a Musical (1987), and the Drama Desk Award (1987) nomination as Outstanding Featured Actress in A Musical.
Kuhn appeared in the Trevor Nunn-directed Chess, with music by Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus and lyrics by Tim Rice in the 1988 Broadway transfer from the West End, playing one of the main roles (Florence Vassy). Despite the show's success in London, Trevor Nunn decided to rework it for Broadway from a pop/rock opera as staged in London into a more conventional musical theater piece with a new book by Richard Nelson. As a result, the new show was greeted with mostly negative reviews and closed after less than a two-month run, on June 25, 1988. Kuhn's performance in the musical received praise from the critics. "Her beautiful pop-soprano voice is the show's chief pleasure. She acts the sympathetic, gutsy role with spirit and heart", wrote Variety. The Village Voice noted that "she pours a river of feeling and lush vocal tone into...the role". She garnered her second Tony Award nomination, this time as Best Actress in a Musical (1988), and a 1988 Drama Desk Award nomination as Outstanding Actress in a Musical. In addition, The Original Broadway Cast recording of the musical was nominated for a Grammy Award.
She reprised her role of Florence Vassy later in January 1989 in a Carnegie Hall concert performance with the rest of the Broadway cast, which was a benefit for the Emergency Shelter Inc. She also performed in a Chess concert versionin 1989 in Skellefteå, Sweden, during a chess World Cup final tournament, where she joined with Tommy Körberg and Murray Head, two principal actors from 1986 West End production of the musical.
Kuhn made her London debut in 1989, when she starred in the West End production of Metropolis, with Jeremy Kingston, reviewing for The Times (London) writing "I greatly enjoyed Kuhn's edgy, angular performance." She received an Olivier Award nomination as Best Actress in a Musical.
Kuhn's next major Broadway project, Two Shakespearean Actors (1992), despite a cast that included Brian Bedford, Frances Conroy, Hope Davis, Victor Garber, Laura Innes and Eric Stoltz, was commercially unsuccessful, closing after 29 regular performances.
In 1993, Kuhn played in the Roundabout Theater Company revival of She Loves Me, portraying Amalia Balash, a young Budapest shopgirl who is unaware that the co-worker she despises is the young man with whom she's been sharing an anonymous correspondence. Her performance earned her a Tony Award nomination as Best Actress in a Musical. The 1993 Broadway recording of this revival does not feature Kuhn, who left the production before the album was produced.
In December 1993, Kuhn played the role of Betty Schaefer in the U.S premiere production of Sunset Boulevard at the Shubert Theatre in Los Angeles. The L.A production recorded a cast album, which is the only unabridged cast recording of the show with the original London recording being cut by thirty minutes.
Regional theatre credits in the early 1990s include The Glass Menagerie at the McCarter Theatre, Princeton, New Jersey, in 1991 as "Laura" and Martin Guerre, at the Hartford Stage Company, Hartford, Connecticut in 1993. Kuhn reprised her role as Cosette in 1995, for the 10th anniversary concert performance at the Royal Albert Hall in London, which was released on DVD as Les Miserables: The Dream Cast in Concert.
Kuhn appeared in the Broadway concert King David which was a 1997 Disney project with a book and lyrics by Tim Rice and music by Alan Menken and directed by Mike Ockrent. It played for a nine-performance limited run at the New Amsterdam Theatre.
Kuhn sang in the second annual benefit concert for The Actors' Fund of Funny Girl in September 2002 at the New Amsterdam theatre, with different actresses taking on the role of Fanny Brice. She sang "Who Are You Now?" and "People" of which Andrew Gans of Playbill wrote: she "provided an intense, moving, full-voiced 'People,' sensationally belting 'are the luckiest peeeeeeople (wow!) in the wooorld'."
Kuhn's Off-Broadway and regional theater credits in this period include: As Thousands Cheer (1998) Off-Broadway at the Drama Dept., Greenwich House Theater;Strike up the Band (1998) Off-Broadway Encores! Concerts at New York City Center; the title role in The Ballad of Little Jo (2000) at the Steppenwolf Theatre Company in Chicago; Eli's Comin (2001) Off-Broadway at the Vineyard Theatre Company (for which she won an Obie Award); The Highest Yellow (2004) at the Signature Theater in Virginia; and Three Sisters (2005) In a new adaption by Craig Lucas at the Intiman Theater in Seattle, Washington.
On October 23, 2007, Kuhn returned to the Broadway production of Les Misérables after 20 years, this time assuming the role of Fantine. She succeeded Lea Salonga and remained with the show until the revival ended on January 6, 2008.
Kuhn portrayed Fosca in the Off-Broadway Classic Stage Company revival of the Stephen Sondheim-James Lapine musical Passion from its opening in February 2013 through its scheduled closing in April 2013. Kuhn has previously played Fosca, in the Stephen Sondheim celebration production in 2002 at the Kennedy Center.
In 2013, Kuhn originated the role of Helen Bechdel in the off-Broadway Public Theater production of the musical Fun Home, which began its run September 30, 2013 and opened officially on October 22, 2013. The run was extended multiple times and closed on January 12, 2014. She played the same role in the Broadway production, which ran from April 2015 to September 10, 2016 at the Circle in the Square.
Kuhn played the role of "Golde" in the Broadway revival of Fiddler on the Roof, starting on November 22, 2016. She plays Golde in the Menier Chocolate Factory (London) production of Fiddler on the Roof which began on November 23, 2018 and ran to March 9, 2019.
Career outside theatre
Her television credits include Law & Order and Law & Order: SVU, All My Children and two PBS shows: My Favorite Broadway: The Leading Ladies (recorded 1998, released 1999) and In Performance at the White House: A Tribute to Broadway – The Shows in March 1988.
Kuhn sang the title role in the 1995 Disney animated film Pocahontas. The film's score won an Academy Award, and the soundtrack reached #1 on the Billboard 200, selling over 2.5 million copies. The film included Kuhn's rendition of the song "Colors of the Wind", which won the Academy Award for Best Original Song and a Grammy Award.
Kuhn also sang as Pocahontas in the straight-to-video sequel Pocahontas II: Journey to a New World and in "If You Can Dream", a Disney Princess song. Kuhn briefly appeared in the film Long Time Since (1998) and supplied the vocals for the movie's soundtrack, which includes a rendition of Auld Lang Syne.
She has performed in concert at Carnegie Hall, Alice Tully Hall, and Avery Fisher Hall in Manhattan, and at the Royal Albert Hall in London. She has performed in a solo cabaret/nightclub act at, for example, Joe's Pub at the Public Theater in October 2007 and the Iridium in New York in January 2008. She performed her solo concert at Feinstein's at Loews Regency in March 2012.
Her first solo album Just in Time: Judy Kuhn Sings Jule Styne was released on January 31, 1995. Kuhn's second solo album Serious Playground: The Songs of Laura Nyro was released on October 2, 2007. In 2013, she released her third album All This Happiness, which contains pop, jazz, cabaret, and blues songs, along with the title song of the album, from the Stephen Sondheim musical Passion.
Kuhn also teaches a song interpretation class at Michael Howard Studios in New York City, where she studied earlier in her career. Andrew Gans of Playbill wrote that Kuhn "possesses one of the richest and most exciting instruments around; it is also an extremely versatile and rangy voice" and that Kuhn has "remarkable interpretive skills".
Kuhn lives with her husband, David Schwab, and daughter Anna in New York City.
Film and television
|1992||Lifestories: Families in Crisis||television debut|
Episode: "The Secret Life of Mary Margaret: Portrait of a Bulimic"
(singing voice only)
|1995||Disney Sing-Along Songs: Colors of the Wind||(singing voice only); Short film|
|1998||Pocahontas II: Journey to a New World||(singing voice only); Direct-to-Video|
|1998-2008||Law & Order||Adrienne Longmire/Beth Prentiss||2 episodes; Episode: "Expert" (1998)/Episode: "Seer" (2003)|
|2003||Hope & Faith||Colleen||Episode: "About a Book Club"|
|2004||Law & Order: Criminal Intent||Dr. Anna Ford||Episode: "Conscience"|
|2004||Mulan II||Princess Ting Ting||(singing voice only); Direct-to-Video|
|2007||Law & Order: Special Victims Unit||Corinne Nicholson||Episode: "Savant"|
|2007||Enchanted||Pregnant Woman with Kids|
|2012||Elementary||Board Member||Episode: "The Rat Race"|
List of albums
|Title||Album details||Peak chart positions||Certifications||Sales|
|The Mystery of Edwin Drood||—||—||—||—||—|
|Aspects of Love||
|Rags, A New American Musical||
|Just in Time: Judy Kuhn Sings Jule Styne||
|Les Miserables - The Dream Cast in Concert||
|As Thousands Cheer||
|Serious Playground - The Songs of Laura Nyro||
|Pocahontas II: Journey to a New World||
|All This Happiness||
|Year||Title||Peak chart positions||Certifications||Album|
|1987||"Rue Plument - In My Life"||—||—||—||—||Les Miserables|
|"A Heart Full of Love"||—||—||—||—|
|"The Attack on the Rue Plumet"||—||—||—||—|
|1988||"How Many Woman" (with Philip Casnoff)||—||—||—||—||Chess|
|"You Want to Lose Your Only Friend?" (with Philip Casnoff)||—||—||—||—|
|"Someone Else's Story"||—||—||—||—|
|"Terrace Duet" (with David Carroll)||—||—||—||—|
|"Heaven Help My Heart"||—||—||—||—|
|"You and I" (with David Carroll & Marcia Mitzman)||—||—||—||—|
|"I Know Him So Well"||—||—||—||—|
|"Lullaby (Apukad Eros Kezen)"||—||—||—||—|
|"You and I (Reprise)"||—||—||—||—|
|1989||"Hold Back the Night" (with Lindsey Danvers, Stifyn Parri & Robert Fardell)||—||—||—||—||Metropolis|
|"Children of Metropolis"||—||—||—||—|
|"Bring on the Night"||—||—||—||—|
|"You are the Light" (and Company)||—||—||—||—|
|"Futura's Dance" (and Company)||—||—||—||—|
|"Learning Song" (with Children)||—||—||—||—|
|"Haven't You Finished With Me?" (with Jonathan Adams)||—||—||—||—|
|"Let's Watch the World Go to the Devil (and Company)||—||—||—||—|
|"One of These Nights"||—||—||—||—|
|1993||"What Can You Lose?"||—||—||—||—||Unsung Sondheim|
|"Let's Have Lunch" (with Alan Campbell, Vincent Tumeo & Sal Mistretta)||—||—||—||—||Sunset Boulevard|
|"Every Movie's a Circus" (with Alan Campbell)||—||—||—||—|
|"Every Movie's a Circus (Reprise)" (with Vincent Tumeo & Alan Campbell)||—||—||—||—|
|"Girl Meets Boy" (with Alan Campbell)||—||—||—||—|
|"This Time Next Year" (with Vincent Tumeo, Alan Campbell & Alan Oppenheimer)||—||—||—||—|
|"Girl Meets Boy (Reprise)" (with Alan Campbell)||—||—||—||—|
|"Too Much in Love to Care" (with Alan Campbell)||—||—||—||—|
|"The Final Scene" (with Alan Campbell, Glenn Close & George Hearn)||—||—||—||—|
|1995||"You'll Never Get Away from Me"||—||—||—||—||Just in Time: Judy Kuhn Sings Jule Styne|
|"Time After Time"||—||—||—||—|
|"Saturday Night (Is the Loneliest Night of the Week)"||—||—||—||—|
|"Just Around the Riverbend"||—||—||—||—||Pocahontas|
|"Colors of the Wind"||—||—||—||—||
|1999||"How's Chances?" (with Lou Bruno/Richard Chamberlain/Dr. David Evans/Howard McGillin/B.D. Wong)||—||—||—||—||As Thousands Cheer|
|"Lonely Heart" (with Lou Bruno & Dr. David Evans)||—||—||—||—|
|"Easter Parade" (with Lou Bruno/Dr. David Evans/Howard McGillin)||—||—||—||—|
|2005||"Like Other Girls" (with Beth Blankenship & Mandy Gonzalez)||—||—||—||—||Mulan II|
|2009||"Where Do I Go From Here"||—||—||—||—||Pocahontas II: Journey to a New World|
|"What a Day in London"||—||—||—||—|
|"Between Two Worlds (End Title)" (with Billy Zane)||—||—||—||—|
|2013||"Sometimes my father appeared to enjoy having children" (with Beth Malone & Michael Cerveris)||���||—||—||—||Fun Home|
|"Welcome to Our House on Maple Avenue" (with Beth Malone, Sydney Lucas, Griffin Birney, Noah Hinsdale, Michael Cerveris & Joel Perez)||—||—||—||—|
|"Helen's Etude" (with Beth Malone, Michael Cerevis, Sydney Lucas, Noah Hinsdale, Griffin Birney & Alexandra Socha)||—||—||—||—|
|"I leapt out of the closet..." (with Beth Malone, Sydney Lucas & Michael Cerveris)||—||—||—||—|
|"Read a book..." (with Michael Cerveris & Sydney Lucas)||—||—||—||—|
|"Shortly after we were married..." (with Alexandra Socha)||—||—||—||—|
|"Days and Days"||—||—||—||—|
Awards and nominations
|1987||Tony Award||Best Featured Actress in a Musical||Les Misérables||Nominated|
|Drama Desk Award||Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical||Nominated|
|1988||Tony Award||Best Actress in a Musical||Chess||Nominated|
|Drama Desk Award||Outstanding Actress in a Musical||Nominated|
|1989||Olivier Award||Best Actress in a Musical||Metropolis||Nominated|
|1994||Tony Award||Best Actress in a Musical||She Loves Me||Nominated|
|2001||Obie Award||Performance||Eli's Comin||Won|
|2014||Lucille Lortel Award||Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical||Fun Home||Won|
|Outer Critics Circle Award||Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical||Nominated|
|2015||Drama League Award||Distinguished Performance||Nominated|
|Tony Award||Best Featured Actress in a Musical||Nominated|
|2016||Grammy Award||Best Musical Theater Album||Nominated|
|2020||Olivier Award||Best Actress in a Musical||Fiddler on the Roof||Nominated|
- Gilbert, Sophie. "Sondheim Meets Pocahontas at Judy Kuhn Performance" Washingtonian, December 6, 2012
- Lanes, Elliot. "BWW Interview: Theatre Life with Judy Kuhn" broadwayworld.com, May 2, 2018
- Frank Farina
- "Judy Kuhn" masterworksbroadway.com, accessed April 15, 2016
- "Alumni Opera Theater, Oberlin Conservatory of Music"[permanent dead link] oberlin.edu, accessed April 15, 2016
- Drood ibdb.com, accessed April 15, 2016
- Rags ibdb.com, accessed April 15, 2016
- Blau, Eleanor. "2 Musicals Lead Tony Nominations", The New York Times, May 12, 1987, Section C; Page 15, Column 4
- (no author). "'Me and My Girl' and 'Les Miserables' Top Nominations for Drama Desk Awards", The Associated Press, May 10, 1987, Domestic News
- Chess playbill.com, accessed April 15, 2016
- "Reviews for the Broadway Production. 'Chess'. See Humm, Variety, 29 April 1988"[permanent dead link] quareone.org (webcache.googleusercontent.com), accessed January 2, 2014
- "'Chess' on Broadway the Reviews, see Variety, 29 April 1988 icethesite.com, accessed December 27, 2015.
- "'Chess' Cast to Perform In Carnegie Hall Benefit" The New York Times, January 3, 1989
- Kingston, Jeremy. "City of dreadful night; Review of 'Metropolis' at the Piccadilly Theatre", The Times (London), March 9, 1989, Issue 63337 (no page number)
- "Olivier Winners 1989–90" Archived July 17, 2011, at Archive.today, OlivierAwards.com, accessed July 3, 2012.
- " Two Shakespearean Actors: Opening Night Cast" Archived July 8, 2013, at the Wayback Machine, PlaybillVault.com; accessed July 4, 2012.
- "Two Shakespearean Actors Listing", Internet Broadway Database; accessed July 4, 2012.
- " She Loves Me, 1993" playbill.com, accessed April 15, 2016
- Gerard, Jeremy. "Review: ‘Sunset Boulevard’" Variety, December 9, 1993
- Gussow, Mel. "Review. The Limits of Love and Little Glass Animals" The New York Times, January 21, 1991
- Klein, Alvin. "Theater. ;Martin Guerre' as Mystery Rather Than History" The New York Times, January 10, 1993
- "BBC to Release Special Edition DVD of LES MISERABLES 10th Anniversary Concert, 11/20". broadwayworld.com. Retrieved April 15, 2016.
- Brantley, Ben. "With Strobe Lights (but No Philistine Trophies), It's Disney's 'King David", The New York Times, May 20, 1997
- Gans, Andrew. "Diva Talk: The Gals of Funny Girl PLUS Diva News!" Archived October 12, 2012, at the Wayback Machine, Playbill.com, September 27, 2002
- Canby, Vincent. "Theater; A Lost Theatrical Form Returns With a Smile", The New York Times, June 21, 1998
- Brantley, Ben. "Theater Review; Jingoism Parodied: Gershwins' War of '27", The New York Times, February 14, 1998
- Simonson, Robert. "Steppenwolf's 'Ballad of Little Jo' Plays on Thru Nov. 12" playbill.com, October 19, 2000
- Ehren, Christine. "Eli's Comin' Later: Laura Nyro Musical Will Open May 7", Playbill.com, April 19, 2001
- Toscano, Michael. "Reviews. 'The Highest Yellow" " theatermania.com, November 9, 2004
- Hernandez, Ernio. "'The Light in the Piazza' Collaborators Lucas and Sher Team on New 'Three Sisters' Starring Kuhn" playbill.com, June 7, 2005
- Playbill News: I Am My Own Mom: Judy Kuhn, Once a Cosette, Will Play Fantine in Les Miz Archived February 10, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
- Piepenburg, Erik. "Judy Kuhn and Melissa Errico Cast in Passion Revival", The New York Times, April 2012.
- "Passion at the Kennedy Center",. SondheimGuide.com, accessed July 3, 2012
- Hetrick, Adam. "Jeanine Tesori-Lisa Kron Musical Fun Home Extends for Second Time at the Public". Playbill. Archived from the original on October 30, 2013. Retrieved November 2, 2013.
- Hetrick, Adam (December 8, 2014). "Fun Home Taps Original Off-Broadway Stars for Broadway Transfer". Playbill.com. Retrieved December 9, 2014.
- Viagas, Robert (September 10, 2016). "Tony-Winning Musical Fun Home Closes on Broadway Today". Playbill.
- Gans, Andrew. "Broadway’s 'Fiddler on the Roof' Will Welcome Judy Kuhn" Playbill, September 19, 2016
- Culwell-Block, Logan. "A Look at Judy Kuhn and Andy Nyman in London's 'Fiddler on the Roof'" Playbill, December 7, 2018
- "My Favorite Broadway: The Leading Ladies' Review, Credits" allmusic.com, accessed April 15, 2016
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- "Pocahontas Awards". Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved April 15, 2016.
- "Pocahontas". CD Universe. Retrieved July 2, 2012.
- Stewart, Bhob. "Long Time Since (1998)". The New York Times. Retrieved July 4, 2012.
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- Holden, Stephen. "Music Review. Resurrecting an Urban Earth Mother", The New York Times, January 12, 2008
- Gans, Andrew. "Judy Kuhn Sings Joni Mitchell, Stephen Sondheim, Cole Porter at Feinstein's Starting March 6" Archived June 30, 2012, at the Wayback Machine, Playbill.com, March 6, 2012
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- Gans, Andrew. "Judy Kuhn’s Debut Solo Album Now Available Digitally" playbill.com, April 15, 2016
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- Judy Kuhn at the Internet Broadway Database
- Judy Kuhn at Internet Off-Broadway Database
- Judy Kuhn's Official Website
- Judy Kuhn's Myspace Page
- Judy Kuhn's 2007 XM Satellite Radio interview
- darkestnight: the works of Alain Boubil & Claude-Michel Schönberg
- Judy Kuhn's Serious Playground Album on Ghostlight Records