The varied career of Italian-Polish-American actress and singer Judith (or Judy) Blazer (b. Dover, NJ, October 22, 1956) ranges from daytime soap opera to Mozart to lead roles in musicals to running a theatre school. She has performed on- and off-Broadway and all across the United States in regional theatre, contributed voice-overs to animated films, and recorded over twenty CDs.
Judy Blazer’s parents met in Italy during the Second World War. Her mother was a native Italian and taught voice at the Naples Conservatory; her father, a first-generation Polish-Jewish American, was a singer, cantor, and voice teacher. When they settled in Montclair, NJ, after the War, her mother taught piano and her father joined the faculty of the Manhattan School of Music. Both Judy and her brother spoke Italian before learning English. Music, according to Blazer herself, was the most important thing in their family: she started with piano when she was “teeny-weeny” and graduated to the violin when she was eight. “I said I would never be a singer . . . that’s what my parents do, I would never do that. But it was impossible. . . . Eventually the voice took over from the violin . . . secretly, I longed to become an actress.”
While she was in her early teens, Olympia Dukakis and Louis Zorich were running the Whole Theatre Company in Montclair, and Blazer established a personal relationship baby-sitting for their children, picking up advice and inspiration. In her junior year of high school she dropped out and enrolled in the Manhattan School of Music. Too young to begin an opera career, she spent time in Italy, and soon upon her return to New York was cast as The Girl in The Fantasticks at the Sullivan Street Playhouse.
Then after a few appearances in regional musicals, Judith Blazer spent two and a half years (1982–85) in soap opera – a medium not altogether to her personal liking but commanding her great respect – playing Ariel on As the World Turns. Far more inspiring was singing in Sondheim musicals off-Broadway (A Little Night Music 1985, Company 1987).
Blazer made her Broadway debut in 1989 as the lead replacement in Me and My Girl and the next year led the cast in a short-lived musical, A Change in the Heir. From this point her activities branched out in many directions: she taught for four years at New York University; she sang title roles in musicals all across the country (Funny Girl at Sundance in Utah, The Miracle Worker in New Brunswick, NJ, The Night Governess in Princeton, My Fair Lady in Seattle, On the 20th Century in San Jose, and Peter Pan at Niagara Falls), and she joined stellar casts doing voices for films (Beauty and the Beast: The Enchanted Christmas 1997, Anastasia 1997, Buster & Chauncey’s Silent Night 1998).
In 1994 she was featured at Lincoln Center in Hello Again, earning a Drama Desk nomination and kicking off an enduring association with composer Michael John LaChiusa, whose songs she has recorded, and in whose Bernarda Alba she performed the role of Magdalena off-Broadway in 2006.
More recently Judy Blazer has performed on Broadway in Titanic (1997), Neil Simon’s 45 Seconds from Broadway (2001), and LoveMusik (2007) directed by Harold Prince. She has sung at New York City Opera in Sweeney Todd (2004) and Candide (2008), and has been featured on two PBS Specials: Bernstein’s New York and In Performance at the White House. On Law and Order (2000, 2003), Blazer has played both a District Attorney and a convicted murderer.
She has sung leading roles in a wide variety of operas: The Cunning Little Vixen, L’Enfant et les sortilèges, Lee Hoiby’s Summer and Smoke, Verdi’s Falstaff, Donizetti’s Don Pasquale, Massenet’s Manon, and several Baroque works; she has taught as a guest at the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music, University of California/Davis, Notre Dame de Namur University in California, and the GITIS Academy of Theatre Arts in Moscow.
Judith Blazer’s passion for the theatre and related arts has borne fruit in The Artist’s Crossing Theatre Company and School, which she co-founded in Dayton, Ohio, while teaching at Wright State University. As Artistic Director she conducts workshops in New York and other venues around the country, building theatrical, vocal, and confidence skills with young performers.