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Merle Louise: Life on Broadway - An Interview

Getting “up close and personal” with anything Broadway always has a glitz about it. But, the practical aspect offers a learning opportunity on how one achieves the goal of acting on the Broadway stage and sustains that hard-earned status, making it a career.

Come to the William and Helen Richards Theatre at Orange Hall on Wednesday, March 7 at 7 p.m. for Merle Louise: Life on Broadwayan interview.

Merle Louise is a Broadway legend!  She has spent her life on the Great White Way.  She began her career as a young adult, performing with Ethel Merman in the original Broadway production of Gypsy in 1959.  She went on to become one of the most frequent interpreters of the musicals of Stephen Sondheim and Harold Prince, as an original cast member of Company (1970), Into the Woods (1987), and Sweeney Todd (1979). 

For her creation of the role of the Beggar Woman in Sweeney Todd, she won the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical in 1979.  She also performed in the original casts of Jerry Herman’s La Cage aux Folles (1983), Kander and Ebb’s Kiss of the Spider Woman (1993), and Elton John’s Billy Elliot (2008).  She appears on the cast albums for the Broadway shows in which she appeared. In addition, she has worked on tour, off-Broadway and regionally, in musicals and plays. In her regional theatre roles in classical theatre, she is an acclaimed actress in works by Shakespeare, Chekhov, Molière, Pinter, Ibsen, and Shaw.

Originally from Bethlehem, Pa., Louise’s working class family saw to her getting singing and acting lessons in New York as a small child. Then, she began to perform while still in high school, moving to the city soon after.  In addition throughout her life, she raised a family, traveled the world, completed a college degree in her 70’s, and overcame challenges of many kinds.

In this exclusive event, Joanne Zipay, will interview Merle Louise about her life and experiences onstage and off, including the famous individuals with whom she has worked. Louise will also give advice for up-and-coming performers.  A Q&A session will follow, during which attendees may question her directly.

Zipay is founder and former artistic director of NYC’s Judith Shakespeare Company. Presently, she is the assistant SUNY Orange Cultural Affairs coordinator and an adjunct instructor of speech and screenwriting in the Arts and Communication Department.

This Cultural Affairs program is free and open to the public. For more information, send an email to, call (845) 341-4891, or check out the SUNY Orange website at

Event date, time and location.

Joanne Zipay
Cultural Affairs