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BWW Exclusive: Discovering Heather Headley

by Mark Brandon at Binder Casting/RWS Entertainment Group

Today, December 12, 2017, Broadway Dreams will honor Tony and Grammy Award-winner Heather Headley in celebration of 20 years since her Broadway debut in Disney's landmark musical The Lion King. The tenth annual Broadway Dreams Supper will take place at The Plaza. Mark Brandon at Binder Casting part of RWS Entertainment Group took a moment to reflect back on how Heather got her start in the industry:

I first discovered Heather when she was Audra McDonald's understudy in RAGTIME. They were still in Toronto trying out the show before coming to Broadway. We had seen several women for Nala but just hadn't found "the one". Heather's then manager (and good friend) Janet Louer and I worked arduously hand in hand to get Heather to NYC to audition for Julie Taymor, the rest of the team and producers. Heather had the passion, strength, talent and undefinable quality needed for the role. We offered her the part of Nala soon after she auditioned.

AIDA was in development at Disney Theatrical at the same time I was casting LION KING. Jay Binder and I were working on AIDA together and I mentioned that we might have a star in the making and that she could be right for the title role. We cast her in the out of town tryout that went to The Alliance in Atlanta and she continued with the show after that and on to her Drama Desk and Tony.

Binder Casting then cast Heather in "Do, Re, Mi" at Encores! opposite Brian Stokes Mitchell. It was really Heather's introduction to classic musical comedy in NYC and she stopped the show cold.

Jay and I are so proud of being a small part of Heather's illustrious career and having the privilege of giving her the start in this business that she so richly deserves.

Heather Headley is a critically acclaimed stage and recording artist who earned the prestigious 2000 Tony® Award for "Best Actress in a Musical" and Drama Desk Award for "Outstanding Actress in a Musical" for her star turn as the titular role in Elton John and Tim Rice's Aida. In 2010, Headley won the Grammy® Award for "Best Contemporary R&B Gospel Album" for her third studio album, Audience of One. Other theatre credits include Rachel Marron in The Bodyguard in London's West End and her triumphant return to Broadway last year as nightclub singer Shug Avery in the Tony Award-winning revival of The Color Purple. Throughout her career, she has been recognized with two Soul Train Lady of Soul Awards and named one of People Magazine's 50 Most Beautiful People and Essence Magazine's 30 Women To Watch, among other accolades.

Now in its tenth year, this black tie event raises critical awareness and support for Broadway Dreams and its mission to make world-class performing arts education accessible to all, regardless of socioeconomic status. Since the organization's launch in 2006, Broadway Dreams has engaged more than 11,000 students and has awarded over one million dollars ($1M) in financial need-based scholarships, empowering the next generation of performing artists across North America and in select international markets.

The 2016 Broadway Dreams Supper honored the Tony Award-winning songwriting team, Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty.

The evening is presented with the support of Point Park University, the exclusive higher education partner of the Broadway Dreams Supper.

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