Launched off-Broadway at New York’s John Houseman Theater, Rita McKenzie’s personal success with Ethel Merman’s Broadway triggered an international tour, taking her throughout America to Carnegie Hall, Pasadena Playhouse, Atlantic City, Las Vegas and on an SRO eight-city tour of Japan. The production is currently planning a limited Broadway engagement. Ethel Merman’s Broadway has been dubbed the longest running one-woman show in theatrical history alongside its countpart, Hal Holbrook’s longest running one-man show, Mark Twain Tonight.
Ms. McKenzie recently completed a critically acclaimed 10-week run of Ethel Merman’s Broadway at the Nederlander’s Broadway Series at the Gem Theatre in Detroit. In the Fall of 2010 she played the show at the Laguna Playhouse where critics hailed the production and performance as one of the tops of the season. Ms. McKenzie has performed in the national tour of Neil Simon's female version of The Odd Couple. Co-starring with Barbara Eden, McKenzie was honored for her outstanding portrayal of Olive Madison with a National Broadway Theatre nomination as Best Actress in a Touring Play. McKenzie and Eden had previously completed a successful tour of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. She starred in the Los Angeles premiere of the off-Broadway musical Ruthless! at the Cannon Theatre and can be heard on the original cast album. She created the role of Phoebe Farber in Sam Harris' production of Hurry! Hurry! Hollywood! in Los Angeles, and she played Maggie Jones in 42nd Street with Mariette Hartley. Her other starring roles include Aldonza in Man of la Mancha, Ruth in The Pirates of Penzance, Belle Poltrine in Little Me, Domina in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Cleo in The Most Happy Fella, Widow Corney in Oliver!, and Nurse Custer in Whoopee! In addition, Ms. McKenzie also toured the country in Merman’s signature role as Annie Oakley in the 50th anniversary production of Annie Get Your Gun opposite Glenn Yarbrough. She has also played Reno Sweeney in Anything Goes and of course, Mama Rose in Gypsy.
An accomplished TV and film actress, Ms. McKenzie played Alice, the housekeeper, on Fox’s "The Brady Bunch: The Final Days," has guest-starred on NBC’s "Caroline in the City," and will be recalled for her roles as Mrs. Littlejohn on NBC’s "Frasier," Rita Marcus on the Family Channel’s "Big Brother Jake," and her recurring role on "Daddy Dearest," starring Richard Lewis and Don Rickles.
“Rita is absolutely the best and it’s a thrilling night and I want everybody out there to come see this. It will never get any better than this.”— Jerry Herman, Composer of Hello Dolly!, Mame, La Cage Aux Folles