A familiar presence in the world of the Broadway musical, singer-actress Carolee Carmello was born in Albany, New York. She played the parts of Margaret and Stand-in in the original cast of the Tony Award®-winning City of Angels (1989), a noir musical comedy that opened at New York’s Virginia Theatre, with music by Cy Coleman, lyrics by David Zippel, and book by Larry Gelbart. In 1992, she formed part of the original cast of Falsettos – a Broadway musical by James Lapine and William Finn that played at the John Golden Theatre – playing the kosher caterer Cordelia. Falsettos won Tony Awards® for Best Book of a Musical and Best Original Score.
In Michael John LaChuisa’s musical Hello Again (1994) – based on Artur Schnitzler’s Reigen (or La Ronde), the scandalous late-19th-century play about interlinked sexual encounters – Carmello played the Young Wife in the original Lincoln Center cast, earning an Obie Award for her performance. She can be heard on the original cast recording.
At the Gershwin Theatre in 1997–98, she played the part of Abigail Adams in the Broadway revival of the musical 1776, with music and lyrics by Sherman Edwards and book by Peter Stone. This was followed by her playing the role of Lucille Frank in the original Broadway production of Parade, a musical with a book by Alfred Uhry and music and lyrics by Jason Robert Brown, directed by Harold Prince. The musical won Tonys® for Best Book of a Musical and Best Original Musical Score, with Carmello – who sings on the original cast recording – earning a Tony® nomination for Best Actress in a Musical as well as a Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Actress in a Musical.
In a special 2002 benefit concert of Funny Girl (by Lennart, Styne, and Merrill), Carmello sang “The Music that Makes Me Dance” and was one of several stars to portray Fanny Brice in the production – some of her fellow funny girls being Kristin Chenoweth, Ricki Lake, Andrea Martin, and Bebe Neuwirth. In 2003 Carmello joined the cast of Mark Hollmann and Greg Kotis’s Tony®-winning distopian musical Urinetown, playing Penelope Pennywise,a hardened woman charged with maintaining order in a grungy urinal. She later joined the Winter Garden cast of the ABBA musical Mamma Mia!
In the Elton John / Bernie Taupin musical Lestat (2006), based on Anne Rice’s popular vampire novels, Carmello played Gabrielle in the original Broadway cast, earning a Tony® nomination for Best Featured Actress in a Musical.
In addition to her work on the stage, Carmello has appeared on television in the daytime dramas Another World and As the World Turns, and she had a regular role as the onetime burlesque dancer Maple LaMarsh on the American Movie Channel series Remember WENN, for which she earned a Screen Actors Guild Award nomination for Best Ensemble in a Comedy Series.
Her husband, Gregg Edelman, is also well known for his work in musical theater.