Diva Friday: Rachel York

For today’s Diva Friday, let’s celebrate diversity! After all, it is Pride Month. And I don’t know of any current leading lady musical actress more diverse than Rachel York.

Rachel York_Concert HS2

She’s the only woman I know of who can convincingly play zany madcap, as she did in her Tony-snubbed turn as Norma Cassidy in Victor/Victoria:

And then Grande Dame leading lady, as she did in Kiss Me Kate:

And did you catch her in the 2003 CBS telemovie Lucy (“When the comedy stopped…real life began”)? That’s ok. No one did — except me and 12 other people. It was a pretty lame excuse for even a made-for-TV movie. However, York proved herself a fearless mimic, able to perfectly capture the mannerisms and voice of this legendary comedienne’s on-camera looniness and her off-camera booziness. (EDIT: 1/27/10: Clips from the CBS Lucy movie are now on YouTube. Check out this one, in particular, to see Ms. York in action.)


I also hear she can do a dead-on Julie Andrews impersonation, though I’ve never heard it. It comes from her long-standing working relationship with the Dame, which started in the Sondheim review Putting it Together, and then led to Victor/Victoria. There is some well-worn rumor* out there that Andrews hit on York during Putting it Together, and York had to politely turn her down, while letting her know how flattered she (York) was. [*Editor’s Note: Ms. York has cleared up these rumors, in her comments at the end of this post. In short: Not true.]

Regardless, I wouldn’t blame Julie one bit if it was true — York’s hot:


I caught York last Fall when she starred opposite Jeff Daniels in the disappointing Turn of the Century. (My review is here.) There, she demonstrated another essential leading lady quality: the ability to turn shit into gold. Seriously — girl carried that show on her back.


She’s always working, and working all over the country. Next up for the blonde bombshell (at least I think she’s a blonde…): She’ll be starring in Hello Dolly in Boston. (The picture above is actually not from Dolly, but Turn of the Century…they were doing a riff on Dolly. Confusing? I hope so.) I understand she’s filling in last minute for Joanne Worley as Ms. Levi. This isn’t York’s first time taking over a lead at the eleventh hour — she also stepped in as Mother in Papermill Playhouse’s Ragtime a few years ago when Jayne Patterson had a family emergency. And York got raves. She’s a pro.

Visit her web site to learn more about this lovely, diverse woman.

Visit previous Diva Friday columns.

22 thoughts on “Diva Friday: Rachel York

  1. Thanks for this. I have loved Rachel York ever since first seeing her in “City of Angels” and then in “Victor/Victoria.”

    You’re right that she can take a nothing show and suddenly make it all seem worthwhile. Such was the case with “Sly Fox” and the tour of “Camelot.”

    I seek shows out whenever I know Rachel York is in them, whether it’s the touring production of “Kiss Me, Kate” or my return visit to “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels.” She knows how to WOW.

    Let’s just hope we get to see more of her sooner than later!

  2. I agree! She should be on Broadway.

    And has she never been nommed for a Tony award? How can this be???

    1. I am here to set the record straight. Julie has always been a great chum and for a time, a second mum to me, but she never hit on me. I am, however, very flattered by the rumor. Your childhood fantasies are safe. Like me, she digs guys and celebrates the power in all women. Well, most women… I have difficulty with Sarah Pailin.

      1. Oh. Well, in that case I guess I’ll scrap my new project, “My Unauthorized Travels with Julie Andrews. ”

        Poor Sarah. She’s too easy a target.

  3. That’s the rumor, maile! Take it as such. If I were a woman into women, I’d be totally into julie. Thanks for coming out on my blog! Deviant.

  4. This is so amazing! I saw Rachel in “Dolly” yesterday and was googling to see what info I could find – and landed here. SOB, if you are nearby, don’t miss it. She’s fabulous!!! So funny, but also sexy and tender. During her speech to Ephraim before she sings “Parade,” she had tears streaming down her face. Then the song was an out and out celebration of her return to the living. She finds the heart of the character in every moment. Fantastic.

    And how wonderful to hear Dolly’s songs sung by someone with such a great voice. They’ve added “Love, Look in My Window” back into the score for her, and she sings it so softly and beautifully. Not belting and cold like Merman sang it. And she can DANCE. Whew. Such exuberance.

    She makes you forget Channing – does an interpretation that’s completely her own. Check out production photos at BroadwayWorld.com. I put the link in the website area on the comment form. Hope I did it right. :-)

  5. Thanks for the feedback and lovely report on York, Theatre Geek! Glad to hear she’s amazing in Dolly.

  6. Dear Robert,
    Thank you for your kindness and for your generous compliments to me on your blog.
    It’s always nice to a have your hard work appreciated. I’ll just keep pluggin along. Right now, I’m having great fun rehearsing as Cruella DeVil. Thanks for your support. Wishing you all good things.
    Rachel York

  7. Wow! I’m so flattered that you took the time to read my blog AND respond, Ms. York. It’s easy to give compliments to someone so talented.

    And thanks for clearing up the rumor. It’s one of those rumors that everyone hears and just shakes their head.

    (And then a-holes like me perpetuate them…)

    Anyway, I’ll be sure to check out Dalmatians when it stops in Chicago.

  8. The rumour about Julie Andrews hitting on Rachel York came from a guest interview Rachel did at Seth Rudetsky’s Broadway Chatterbox, where she supposedly gave some major dish on the incident. Obviously now that I’ve heard it from the horse’s mouth, that never happened!

  9. I always had my suspicions about that one since, whether or not Dame Julie ever had a thing for Ms York (and who could blame her!), from everything Rachel has ever said before or since about Dame Julie, it would seem very out of character for her to dish about Julie like that. Wonder if any visitors here were there when she appeared on his show?
    Anyway just random info.. i just realised this post was way back in June *cowers in shame*
    looking forward to seeing Rachel in 101 Dalmatians!!

    1. Being a huge RY fan, I actually bought a copy of the DVD from her Chatterbox show. She never said that Julie hit on her. She DID joke about the rumor, though.

      When Seth asked her how she got the part in Putting It Together, she said deadpan, “I slept with Julie Andrews.” Everyone roared. Then she said something like, “I guess there was a big rumor in a London paper about that during V/V, saying that we were an item. Can you imagine?” So she was clearly making fun of the rumor and dispelling it with humor. I think if Julie had been in the room she would have been laughing as loud as everyone else. That’s just the kind of “cheeky” humor she is known for!

      During that interview Rachel talked a lot about Julie being like a second “mum” to her and really taking her under her wing. You can tell she adores her and really looks up to her.

      Rachel’s whole interview with Seth was a riot! What a funny lady. To top it off, she sang I Dreamed a Dream at the end. Killer.

      You can probably still buy it on Seth’s website.

  10. I recently saw 101 Dalmations in Boston and I am so serious when I say…Do NOT die without seeing Rachel York perform as the Cruella Deville (spell check)! She was amazing! I honestly had chills after hearing her sings “I Always Get My Way”. I became an immediate fan! I can not wait for Ms.York to return to Boston…or any surrounding area! I fully intend to be a regular @ any productions featuring Rachel York.

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