Marin Mazzie, a three-time Tony Award nominee known for powerhouse Broadway performances in “Ragtime,” “Passion” and “Kiss Me, Kate,” died Sept. 13 at her home in Manhattan. She was 57.
The cause was ovarian cancer, said her husband, actor Jason Danieley.
Ms. Mazzie’s career went from screwball comedy — in “Kiss Me, Kate” and “Monty Python’s Spamalot” on Broadway and London’s West End — to riveting, dysfunctional mothers in “Next to Normal” and “Carrie.”
Her cancer diagnosis came on the opening day of a concert production of “Zorba!” in May 2015, and she refused to pull out. In one song, she sang: “Life is what you do while you’re waiting to die.”
Ms. Mazzie later underwent a hysterectomy, a bowel resection because the cancer had spread and weeks of chemotherapy. She returned to Broadway a year later, replacing Kelli O’Hara in “The King and I.”
“It’s very emotional for me,” she told the Associated Press in 2016. “I’m so anxious and excited and thrilled to be able to bring, in essence, a new me back to the stage with what’s gone on in my life.”
New York Times theater critic Ben Brantley wrote that Ms. Mazzie brought “a touch of brass” to the role of English schoolteacher Anna Leonowens. He praised her for a “husky quietness, and you hear the fragile heart beating beneath the stalwartly corseted form.”
Ms. Mazzie was born in Rockford, Ill., on Oct. 9, 1960, in a home often filled with show tunes and original cast recordings. She attended Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo to study theater, and her first job was in a musical at a dinner theater in her hometown.
When she was 8, she saw a touring company of “Carousel” starring John Raitt, a key moment in her life. In the second act, Rockford was plunged into a blackout, and the actors needed flashlights to finish the show.
After it ended, Raitt came out and sang for the audience until it was deemed safe for everyone to go home. He sang for 45 minutes. “I will never forget that moment,” Ms. Mazzie recounted in “Making It on Broadway,” a book of Broadway stories. “To me, that was the magic of theater. Every night is different. Every audience is different. I just love the magic.”
A soprano, she made her New York stage debut in the 1983 revival of Frank Loesser’s musical “Where’s Charley?” Her big break came playing Beth in “Merrily We Roll Along” at the La Jolla Playhouse in California in 1985, the first production outside New York. La Jolla artistic director Des McAnuff later that year put her into “Big River” on Broadway, marking her debut on the Great White Way.
One of her proudest accomplishments was originating a Stephen Sondheim role: Clara in 1994’s “Passion,” the first of her Tony nominations for best actress in a musical. (The other two were for a 1997 production of “Ragtime” and a 1999 staging of “Kiss Me, Kate.”)
Ms. Mazzie was also a frequently booked singer at concerts across the country, playing Carnegie Hall, the Hollywood Bowl and with the Boston Pops, New York Pops and the New York Philharmonic. She released the live album “Marin Mazzie: Make Your Own Kind of Music” in 2015.
She met her future husband in 1996 at the now-defunct theater company En Garde Arts while working on “Trojan Women: A Love Story.” They put out an album of duets, “Opposite You,” in 2005 and appeared together in the autobiographical cabaret show “He Said/She Said.”
On TV, Ms. Mazzie appeared in “Without a Trace,” “Still Standing,” “Nurse Jackie,” “The Big C” and “Smash.”
In addition to her husband, survivors include her mother, Donna Mazzie, and a brother.