Donna Murphy’s award-winning performances in theater, film and television have forged a career of exceptional diversity, impressing both audiences and critics with her depth and skill. This “seductive actress of major transformative powers” (NY Times) was named by New York Magazine as one of “Three Living Legends” of the New York Theater and awarded in 2003 one of their prestigious “New York Awards” for her work in the theater. One of the most beloved and honored stage actresses of her generation, Murphy earned the Drama League Award for Outstanding Achievement in Musical Theater. She currently shares the iconic role of Dolly Gallagher Levi with the legendary Bette Midler in the Tony Award winning revival of Hello, Dolly!, for which she has received great critical acclaim.
Ms. Murphy received the first of two Tony® Awards for Best Actress in a Musical, along with the Drama Desk and Drama League Awards, for her spellbinding creation of Fosca in Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine’s Passion, which was filmed for PBS’ American Playhouse. She received her second Tony® Award, as well as a Drama League Award and Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle nominations, for her “resplendent, matchless” (New York Post) performance as Anna Leonowens in the 1996 Tony® Award-winning revival of The King and I. In 2004, she was honored with the Drama League Outstanding Achievement Award for her work in Musical Theater, the Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle, and Astaire Awards, as well as another Tony® nomination, for her hilarious comic tour de force as Ruth Sherwood in the Broadway Revival of Wonderful Town. She returned to Broadway in 2007, receiving Drama Desk, Drama League, and Outer Critics Circle Awards, and a Tony® nomination for her mesmerizing portrayal of the legendary actress-singer Lotte Lenya in LoveMusik, directed by Harold Prince. Earlier that season, Murphy received raves for her “ brilliant and sexy” (NY Post), “bravura, regal” (Variety), performance as Phyllis Stone in City Center’s Encores!’ production of Stephen Sondheim and James Goldman’s Follies. That summer, Variety named her one of three “Legit Luminaries” along with Christine Ebersole and Joan Didion, in their Women’s Impact Issue.
In April 2010, she lit up the stage at City Center Encores! again with her performance as Mayoress Cora Hooper in Stephen Sondheim and Arthur Laurents’ Anyone Can Whistle, prompting Ben Brantley of the NY Times to call her “perhaps the most sophisticated practitioner of musical comedy alive today.” The following year, the chameleonesque Murphy starred in the world premiere of The People in the Picture, produced by the Roundabout Theater Company. Her remarkably fluid, time-shifting performance as Raisel/Bubbie, a Yiddish theater and film star who survived the Holocaust, seen throughout her youth and as an elderly grandmother determined to pass on her family’s history, garnered Murphy rave reviews and her fifth Tony® nomination, as well as Drama Desk, Drama League, and Outer Critics Circle Award nominations. In the summer of 2012, Murphy took on the role of the Witch in Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine’s Into the Woods for Shakespeare in the Park’s 50th Anniversary season production, which also starred Amy Adams, Jessie Mueller, and Denis O’Hare. For her performance, she was honored with Drama Desk and Drama League Award nominations.
Recognized as a gifted character actress in the film world, she was most recently seen on the big screen as Pearl in No Pay, Nudity opposite Gabriel Byrne. She received international critical acclaim for her performance as the mercurial Marie in Todd Solondz’ Dark Horse, with Selma Blair, Christopher Walken, and Mia Farrow. In Vera Farmiga’s 2011 directorial debut, Higher Ground, she co-starred with Farmiga as Kathleen, the film’s troubled matriarch, creating a sensual, heartbreaking characterization. Murphy’s animated feature debut, voicing the villainess Mother Gothel in Disney’s mega-hit Tangled, earned her rave reviews for her scene stealing performance. She is also widely recognized for her performances as Judy Braddock, the hardworking, suburban single mom to Scarlett Johansson in The Nanny Diaries; the elegant and demanding, but ultimately sympathetic ballet instructor Juliette Simone, in Nicholas Hytner’s Center Stage; and Anij, the quietly alluring and wise leader in Star Trek: Insurrection, opposite Sir Patrick Stewart. Other select film credits include: The Bourne Legacy with Jeremy Renner and Rachel Weisz, Oliver Stone’s World Trade Center, Darren Aronovsky’s The Fountain, Rosalie Octavius in Spiderman 2, The Door in the Floor, The Astronaut’s Wife with Johnny Depp, and Jade, directed by William Friedkin.
Murphy’s first television film, HBO’s “Someone Had to be Benny,” earned her a Cable Ace Award as Best Actress in a Drama Special or Series, as well as a Daytime Emmy. Most recently, she starred as Jane Green, the matriarch of a prominent Southern family torn apart by the Civil War in PBS’ Mercy Street and guest starred on ABC’s hit show “Quantico” and CBS’ “Doubt” with Katherine Heigl and Laverne Cox. Other regular and recurring appearances include the mysterious “elegant woman” Angela Forrester in ABC’s “Resurrection,” Georgie on VH1’s “Hindsight,” Darlene Garretti on CBS’ “Made in Jersey” alongside Janet Montgomery and Kyle McLaughlin, the steely Denise Goodman on TNT’s “Trust Me” with Eric McCormack and Tom Cavanaugh, Heather Olshansky in CBS’ “Hack” opposite David Morse, and her critically acclaimed comedic performance as the neurotic psychiatrist Dr. Ruby Stern on ABC’s sitcom, “What About Joan,” starring Joan Cusack. Other TV work includes: Lifetime’s “House of Versace,” opposite Gina Gershon, Showtime’s political drama “The Last Debate,” “The Day Lincoln Was Shot” (TNT) as Mary Todd Lincoln, Stephen Bochco’s “Murder One” (ABC), “Leonard Bernstein’s New York” and “Liberty!” for PBS, the 2000 and 2002 Kennedy Center Honors (CBS), and guest appearances on USA’s “Royal Pains”, “The Good Wife”, “The Mentalist”, “Ugly Betty”, “Law & Order: Criminal Intent”, “Law & Order: SVU”, “Damages”, “Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip”, “CSI”, “Law & Order”, “The Practice”, “Ally McBeal”, and the PBS Broadcast of the Emmy Award winning “Sondheim! The Birthday Concert.”
Ms. Murphy studied with the legendary Stella Adler, and at the Lee Strasberg Institute, and attended New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. She made her professional debut, after being cast from an open call, in Neil Simon’s They’re Playing Our Song, and went on to create memorable characters in comedies, dramas and musicals on and off Broadway, and in theaters across the country. These credits include Edwin Drood in the original Broadway production of Rupert Holmes’ The Mystery of Edwin Drood, James Lapine’s Twelve Dreams, and Michael John LaChiusa’s Hello Again at Lincoln Center Theater (Drama Desk nominations), Song of Singapore (Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle nominations), Peter Nichol’s Privates on Parade at the Roundabout Theater Co., Strindberg’s Miss Julie (McCarter Theater), and Helen of Troy in Tony Kushner’s production of Ellen McLaughlin’s Helen, for the New York Shakespeare Festival (Drama League Award).
A versatile singer, she can be heard on a number of recordings including Tangled (Disney Soundtrack), The People in the Picture (Kritzerland), Lovemusik (Ghostlight), Wall to Wall Sondheim (Symphony Space), Wonderful Town (DRG), Leonard Bernstein’s New York (Nonesuch), Hello Again (RCA Victor), The King and I (Varese Sarabande), the Grammy Award winning Passion (Angel), and Over the Moon: The Broadway Lullaby Project, to benefit the Breast Cancer Research Foundation and Young Survival Coalition.
Ms. Murphy, born in Queens, New York and raised in Hauppauge, New York and Topsfield, Massachusetts, is the eldest of seven children. For her contribution to the Arts, Culture and Public life, she’s received special honors from New York Magazine, Symphony Space, Greenwich Village’s Caring Community, the Women’s Project, The Little Orchestra Society, Irish America Magazine, the Breukelein Institute and Emerson College. She donates her time and efforts to a number of organizations, including the Worldwide Orphan’s Foundation, Berwin Lee London New York Playwrights, Inc., The Drama League, Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, and The Actors Fund. She is the proud mother of one daughter and two stepdaughters, and happily resides in New York City.
Little Known Fact: When I asked this Tony-Award winning actress, "How old were you when you realized that you had this incredible voice?", she said, "It's not so much that I had this incredible voice, but I had this incredible desire to sing. That was when I was three years old."
Welcome Donna Murphy!