Bean was born in Olympia, Washington and grew up in Beaverton, Oregon. There she graduated from Beaverton High School. Bean studied voice, dance, and songwriting from an early age. She earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Musical Theatre from the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. While at University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, Shoshana was roommates with Kristy Cates, who would later play the role of Elphaba in Wicked as well.
Shortly after moving to New York City, she was cast in the Off-Broadway revival of Godspell. Bean subsequently performed in the national tour of Leader of the Pack. She was also an original cast member in the Tony Award-winning production of Broadway's Hairspray, originating the role of Shelley and understudying the roles of Tracy Turnblad, Velma Von Tussle, and Prudy Pingleton.
Her greatest claim to fame is when she was cast as the replacement for Tony Award-winner Idina Menzel in the Broadway production of Wicked. She was originally the standby for Menzel before she started her official year-long run as Elphaba on January 11, 2005. Bean finished her run in the Broadway company on January 8, 2006 and was replaced by Eden Espinosa.
Bean reprised the role of Elphaba in the national tour of Wicked for a brief run in the fall of 2006. She was joined by former co-star Megan Hilty. Bean departed the touring cast on December 31, 2006. Since leaving Wicked, Bean has recorded background vocals for the film soundtracks to Hairspray as well as Enchanted.
Recently, Bean has been in Los Angeles working on her debut album, Superhero which will debut on December 2, 2008