Kendra Kassebaum (born May 12, 1973) is an American theatre actress who has performed in many different musicals (both Broadway and non-Broadway), and is most noted for her role as Glinda in the first national tour, Broadway, and San Francisco casts of Wicked.
Kendra Kassebaum was born May 12, 1973, in St Louis, Missouri. Her parents are Susie and Dave Kassebaum, and she has one brother, Nicholas. Kendra went to St. Martin of Tours Catholic Elementary School for grades kindergarten to eighth grade.Kendra pursued sports and dancing and did not begin performing until she entered Notre Dame High School. She graduated from high school in 1991. On her graduation day, she received the "Best Actress" award.
Kassebaum then attended Southwest Missouri State University (now Missouri State University), where she received her B.F.A. in Performing Arts. Afterwards, she toured with Grease briefly before moving to New York City. She received her Equity card while on a regional tour of "A Chorus Line" at the Gateway Playhouse and began to pursue acting, but she also earned money by working as a nanny.
Kassebaum debuted on Broadway on September 5, 2000 in Rent (as Mark's Mom, understudying Maureen Johnson). She was also in the 2004 Broadway revival of Assassins, and has toured with Grease and A Chorus Line. She has performed in numerous regional shows.
Kassebaum originated the role of Glinda in the first national tour of Wicked. She was nominated for a Helen Hayes Award for Best Actress in a Regional Performance for her role in Wicked, but lost to then co-star Stephanie J. Block. Kassebaum left the tour in September 2006 after spending a year and a half in the role and was replaced by Megan Hilty.
Kassebaum was seen as Amy in the Seattle production of the Stephen Sondheim musical Company at the 5th Avenue Theatre, starring alongside actor Hugh Panaro. The production ran from October 17, 2006 through November 5, 2006.
On January 9, 2007, Kassebaum reprised her role as Glinda in the Broadway production of Wicked, replacing Kate Reinders, alongside her former co-stars Julia Murney, Sebastian Arcelus, David Garrison, and Logan Lipton. She and co-star Julia Murney had their final performances with the Broadway company on October 7, 2007. Kassebaum was replaced by Annaleigh Ashford.
Kendra appeared as Lorraine in Adam Bock's The Receptionist with former Wicked co-star, Jayne Houdyshell. The show took place at stage 1 of The Manhattan Theater Club. The Receptionist opened October 30, 2007, and closed on December 30, 2007.
On May 13, 2008 Kassebaum once again returned to the role of Glinda in the Broadway company of Wicked where she starred alongside former Wicked tour co-star Stephanie J. Block and then Kerry Ellis. She ended her run on November 9, 2008 and was succeeded by former Broadway Glinda standby Alli Mauzey.
Kassebaum most recently reprised the role of Glinda in the San Francisco production of Wicked originally alongside Teal Wicks, and most recently Eden Espinosa as Elphaba. The production began performances January 27, 2009, with an opening night of February 6, 2009, at the Orpheum Theatre. She left the production on June 26, 2010 and was once again succeeded by Alli Mauzey.
She was recently seen as the Fairy Godmother in Seattle's 5th Avenue Theatre production of Cinderella, which ran from November 25 - to December 31, 2011.
Kendra played the role of Sam in the upcoming musical, Leap Of Faith, opposite Brooke Shields and Raul Esparza at the Ahmanson Theatre, for a out-of-town tryout running from September 11 through October 24, 2010. The show will then transfer to Broadway at St. James Theatre in April 2012.
Kendra will be playing the role of Diana Goodman in "Next to Normal" at the Arizona Theatre Company in Tucson, Arizona from September 15 through October 6, and then again in Phoenix, Arizona from October 11 to October 28, 2012. This production is a joint production with the San Jose Repertory Theatre, where it will play from January 10-February 3, 2013.