Ivy Austin > Voice
Ivy Austin is best known for her work on NPR as the vocalist and comedienne from Garrison Keillor’s, “A Prairie Home Companion.” Each week, three million listeners tuned in as the radio songbird took her place at the microphone to croon with Rob Fisher and The Coffee Club Orchestra, and play a host of characters including Gloria in “The Story of Gloria,” and the crusty-voiced French lady, Babette.
She produced and performed holiday specials for NPR—”Christmas at Rainbow Corner,” a celebration of the songs of WWII, and “Her Funny Valentine,” a love letter to lyricist Lorenz Hart.
At age sixteen, Ivy Austin began her career as Nanette in “No, No, Nanette” in Colgate Sealsummer stock at the Gateway Playhouse. During semester breaks from the High School of Performing Arts and Colgate University, Ivy performed in dinner theatres and traveled with a national tour of the musical “Hair” singing, “I Met a Boy Called Frank Mills.”
After graduating from Colgate with a degree in Biology, she toured with “They’re Playing Our Song,” then moved to Hollywood for “Grease 2,” and “High Strung.” She created the role of a boneless rag dolly in a Joe Raposo/William Gibson musical directed by Patricia Birch. The production made history in the Soviet Union in 1986, marking the renewal of cultural relations between our countries.
Ivy returned to the U.S. to find herself on the front pages of The Daily News and The Economist, and the subject of many news articles and talk shows. Later that year, “Raggedy Ann” opened in New York at The Nederlander Theatre, where Ivy Austin made her Broadway debut in the title role.
Following her Broadway engagement, Ms. Austin assembled a long list of credits at Lincoln Center as a member of the New York City Opera under the artistic direction of Beverly Sills—”Naughty Marietta,” “The Merry Widow,” “The Music Man,” “The New Moon,” “The Desert Song,” “South Pacific,” and Harold Prince’s productions of “Candide” and “Sweeney Todd,” where she portrayed The Beggar Woman.
She starred in “Radio Rhapsody,” conducted by Marin Alsop at Alice Tully Hall, and appeared in “Live From Lincoln Center,” broadcast from the Metropolitan Opera House. Ms. Austin has performed at The Mark Taper Forum—”An Evening with Noel Coward,” The Kennedy Center—”Let Freedom Sing,” Merkin Hall—”50th Anniversary Celebration,” Town Hall—”Sweet Adeline,” “Love and Hard Times,” “National Lampoon Radio Hour,” City Center—”10th Anniversary of the NY City Center Orchestra,” and made her Carnegie Hall debut in “Ira Gershwin—the Art of the Lyricist,” curated by Robert Kimball. She was invited by the Rodgers & Hammerstein Organization to sing at the Gershwin Symposium for the Library of Congress.
The list continues with Billy Barnes’ “Blame It On The Movies” on Broadway, The Actor’s Company Theatre productions of “Rhinocerous” and “The Beauty Part,” Cy Coleman’s “Courtroom Cantata,” Melissa Manchester’s “I Sent a Letter To My Love,” and the original “Personals” with Jason Alexander. She has been on stage at the 92nd Street Y as both performer and host in “Lyrics & Lyricists” evenings celebrating The Gershwins, Irving Berlin, Jerome Kern & Dorothy Fields, “Broadway to Hollywood” and “Broadway Swings.” She was a frequent performer at The New York Historical Society in musical evenings featuring songs by Hammerstein & Hart, DeSylva Brown & Henderson, Dietz & Schwartz, and Irving Berlin. She performed musical theatre repertoire and narrated “Peter & the Wolf” with the Queens Symphony Orchestra, was a guest artist with the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra, Austin Symphony Orchestra, James Dapogny’s Chicago Jazz Band, and performed numerous concerts at The Century in honor of the great songwriters Burton Lane, Jule Styne, Comden & Green, Johnny Mercer, Noel Coward, and Vernon Duke, under the artistic direction of Broadway historian Max Wilk.
Ivy Austin created, wrote, produced, and hosted eight seasons of musical shows in the Winter Garden at the World Financial Center: “Women in Cabaret,” “Women on Broadway,” “The Tony Awards—50 Years of Broadway’s Best Musicals,” “The Men I Love: A Centennial Salute to Ira Gershwin and George Gershwin,” “Happy Birthday New York!—A Musical Tribute to the City’s Centennial,” “The Great Songwriters of Hollywood,” “Songs from Shubert Stages—a Centennial Celebration of the Shubert Organization,”and “Spring Fling.”
Ms. Austin created the voice of a lantuch for an animated feature film, “Aaron’s Aaron’s Magic VillageMagic Village” with a musical score by Sheldon Harnick and Michel Legrand. Her voice has been featured on commercials, and cartoons including “The Charmkins,” “Peter Pan,” Steven Spielberg’s “Animaniacs,” and HBO’s “Peter Rabbit. She has recorded over one hundred songs with The Muppets on ” Sesame Street.” Her characters include Cereal Girl, Gloria Esteworm, Hammy Swinette, Sublime Miss M, and Soo-ey Oinker of The Oinker Sisters–the voice on the international hit song, “I Got a New Way to Walk.” She is heard on numerous cast albums, CDs, and videos.
Ms. Austin performs regularly at Symphony Space in WNYC broadcasts of “Selected Shorts” and “Bloomsday,” and has participated in years of “Wall-to-Wall” music marathons celebrating songwriters Irving Berlin, Leonard Bernstein, Kurt Weill, Stephen Sondheim, Frank Loesser, Joni Mitchell, Richard Rodgers, and Stephen Sondheim. She sang the Guys & Dolls classic, “Adelaide’s Lament” in “Wall-to-Wall Broadway.” Ivy was a member of the Night Kitchen Radio Theater, acting in radio dramas on XM Radio. She is about to begin her ninth season as a contributing writer and performer in the “Thalia Follies,” a political satire on the Upper West Side in NYC.
Ivy Austin is the daughter of the late great percussionist Danny Epstein, and proud mother of two sons.