( b. Jul 15, 1918 New York, New York, USA - d. Aug 13, 2012 Stamford, Connecticut, USA ) Female
Roberts was the soprano who originated one of the major leading-lady roles in American musical theatre. In age when taste seem to dictate that sopranos sound ethereal and unreachable, stressing the melody and shimmering vocal technique over the lyric, Ms. Roberts clearly articulated both the earthbound lyrics of Oscar Hammerstein II and the beauty of Richard Rodgers' music. The 1943 show, Oklahoma!, was after all, set in the plains of Indian territory, not in some gossamer fairyland.
In addition to working in TV and films (making her professional debut at the age of five in an episode of the "Our Gang" films, according to her son), in recent years, Ms. Roberts conducted workshops on singing and voice projection. In 2011 she was honored by the University of North Carolina's School of the Arts while attending their replica production of the original Oklahoma!, where she was joined by fellow original star Holm. Ms. Roberts' autobiography, "Stage Right," was released by Kaufmann Publishing earlier this summer.
In her bio in the 2001 Playbill for Follies, Ms. Roberts indicated that she was handpicked by her mentor Hammerstein for the part of "yeller"-haired Laurey Williams, a country girl caught between two men - confident cowboy Curly and hulking ranch hand Jud. The conflict in the show largely has to do with Laurey and Curly's stubbornness and pride. Nevertheless, in articulating the tension of young courtship, they sang the choice duets "The Surrey With the Fringe on Top" and "People Will Say We're in Love." Laurey also sings "Many a New Day" and "Out of My Dreams." The latter sparked the show's famous "dream ballet," in which separate dancers played a "Dream Laurey" and a "Dream Curly," dancing the inner feelings of the characters.
Late in her career, in 1998, she played Daisy in the play Driving Miss Daisy on the Hempstead campus of Long Island's Hofstra University. She also appeared in Legacy, a show at San Jose Rep in California.