Kristen "Kristy" Cates (born March 14, 1977 in California) is an American actress and singer. She is best known for her role as Elphaba in the Chicago production of Wicked. She was previously in the casts of Princess Ida and the off-Broadway production Boobs! The Musical. In 2016, she portrayed Ms. Bassett in Finding Neverland on Broadway and understudied the role of Madame du Maurier. She was last seen on Broadway as the role of Grandma Josephine in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
March 14, 1977
Cates started her performing career at 3 years old, singing songs and presenting self-written musicals at home. In the second grade, her talents were recognized by the director of her grammar school musical who heard Cates "crowing" at the roosters who took up residence next to the playground. She was immediately cast as the singing rooster in the Christmas pageant. Cates attended Justin-Siena High School in Napa, California.
She performed in community theater productions around her native Northern California, spending 7 years with the Pinole Young Actors group. At age 17, she was cast in her first professional production and made the decision to pursue a career in theater. She auditioned for, and was accepted to, the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music where she spent four years, graduating with a BFA in Musical Theater in 1999. She was roommates and friends with Shoshana Bean, a fellow Wicked alum. Upon graduation, Cates was cast in two productions at the St. Louis MUNY before moving to New York City.
After a few months in New York, Cates was cast in the New York Gilbert and Sullivan Players production of Princess Ida. Shortly thereafter, she began to perform with a number of "unknown" writers and composers—presenting a cabaret of their work at the historical club, Don't Tell Mama. Cates worked at several regional theaters such as the Lucille Lortel White Barn Theatre, North Bay Opera, the Playhouse on the Green, Merry-Go-Round Playhouse and at the Eugene O'Neill Theater Conference. As a singer, she has appeared at numerous NYC clubs and theatres including the Duplex, the Producer's Club, Joe's Pub, Don't Tell Mama, XL, the Triad, and Therapy.
In 2003, Cates starred in the off-Broadway production Boobs! The Musical which celebrated the songs of legendary 50's and 60's singer, Ruth Wallis. She played Ruth Wallis along with other characters (including a medicated Mary Poppins, and a Follies Bergere wannabe).
In 2018, she released a jazzy, musical theatre song called “Kristy’s Lament (Another Awful Day With the MTA).” After leaving her Broadway show one evening, she had took to Facebook to recount her disastrous subway ride home. The post went viral, and caught the attention of lyricist Chris Giordano, who adapted Kristy's commute into a musical number, with composer Ryan Edward Wise.
Cates was cast in the musical Wicked as an ensemble member and understudy for the role of Elphaba, which was played by Idina Menzel. The show opened October 30, 2003. She can be heard on the original Broadway cast recording of the show. As a member of the cast, she performed on the 2004 Tony Awards, Late Show with David Letterman, and at the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. In March 2005, when Stephanie J. Block, who was set to play Elphaba on the show's first national tour became injured, Cates stepped in. Cates then returned to the Broadway production and played her final performance May 29, 2005. She then became standby Elphaba in the Chicago sit-down production of the musical, to Ana Gasteyer.
The Chicago production began previews June 24, 2005, and opened on July 13, 2005. On January 24, 2006, Cates replaced Gasteyer in the lead role. She appeared at the Taste of Chicago and sang the National Anthem on Veterans Weekend at a Chicago Bears football game. Cates left the show on December 10, 2006, and was replaced by Dee Roscioli.
In January 2007, Cates returned to Chicago for a weekend of Solo Shows that she called "An Inteminent Evening with Kristy Cates". Each of her shows sold out, selling over 350 tickets every night. She sang the National Anthem for the Chicago Cubs and Chicago White Sox games in spring 2007.
Cates starred as Tracy Boyd in the musical Unbeatable. The show played in Phoenix and Houston before opening Off-Broadway at New World Stages on October 10, 2008. In February 2010, Cates starred as Susan in the Lyric Theatre at the Plaza production of the Stephen Schwartz musical Snapshots in the Plaza District of Oklahoma City. In April 2014 she starred alongside the majority of the original cast of the off-Broadway musical comedy The Bardy Bunch, a parody in Shakespearean style of the two television shows The Partridge Family and The Brady Bunch.
Cates currently serves as the Creative Director of the New York Film Academy Musical Theatre School and has produced or directed student productions of Spring Awakening, Chess, Wedding Singer and Carousel.
- "UC alumni currently or recently on Broadway". UC Magazine. University of Cincinnati.
- "VIDEO: Kristy Cates Spends 'Another Awful Day With the MTA'". Broadwayworld.com. Retrieved 2018-12-17.
- "Blake, Cates, Wiley, Mendoza and More Set for City of Light Readings". Playbill.com. June 18, 2008.
- "Cates Will Portray Cancer Survivor in New Musical Unbeatable Off-Broadway". Playbill.com. August 1, 2008.
- "John Rubinstein, Emily Padgett & More Will Join Christian Borle in Roald Dahl's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory on Broadway". Broadway.com. Retrieved 2017-10-16.
- Cates, Kristy. "Musical Theatre Department". New York Film Academy. Retrieved 25 May 2016.
- "New York Film Academy". New York Film Academy. Retrieved 25 May 2016.
- Gans, Andrew. "New York Film Academy Will Present Tony-Winning Musical Spring Awakening". Playbill.com. Retrieved 25 May 2016.