• 22 February 1938
  •  Chicago, Illinois, USA

Barry Dennen

Biography

Best known for his nearly 40-year association with the musical sensation "Jesus Christ Superstar," actor-singer-voice artist Barry Dennen has a multi-media resume. Dennen was born in Chicago on February 22, 1938; his family moved to Los Angeles when he was a child. After graduating from UCLA (where George Takei was a classmate), he began his career in New York City, performing in workshops and on the cabaret circuit while living with, and nurturing the singing career of, his girlfriend Barbra Streisand. After a couple years, Dennen decided to explore professional opportunities "across the Pond" and in 1968, shortly after relocating to London, he was selected by legendary theater producer Hal Prince to create the role of the Emcee in the original West End cast of "Cabaret." Barry's striking performance opposite Dame Judi Dench - preserved on the cast album - earned him the "Evening Standard Award" for Best Actor. While living and working in London, Dennen was invited by Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber in 1970 to sing the part of Pontius Pilate on the famous double disk LP of Webber & Rice's groundbreaking "Jesus Christ Superstar." A year later, Dennen co-starred as Pilate in the original Broadway production of the hit show, and again in Norman Jewison's acclaimed 1973 feature film version. (It was Dennen who suggested "Superstar" as the director's next project, while appearing as Mendel in Jewison's movie of the Tony-winning "Fiddler on the Roof.") Throughout the 1970s and '80s, Dennen worked in both the U.K. and the States, settling in Los Angeles in the mid-1980s. In addition to sporadic film and TV roles, notable stage appearances include the ventriloquist's Dummy in "Ghetto" (Mark Taper, Los Angeles); the testy Headwaiter in "She Loves Me" (Ahmanson, Los Angeles); Mr. Wilson in "Annie Get Your Gun" (A.C.T., San Francisco); and the Major-General in "The Pirates of Penzance" (Santa Barbara CLO, Santa Barbara). Dennen created the role of Bertold Brecht in the world premiere of "Silent Partners" by Charles Marowitz at the Scena Theatre in Washington, DC; and in 2009 was seen as The Old Actor in "The Fantasticks" for Jason Alexander's Reprise Theater at the Freud Playhouse in Los Angeles. Over the years, he has reprised his role of Pilate in a variety of tours and anniversary productions of "Jesus Christ Superstar," frequently appearing with other original cast members (from both Broadway and the movie). In 2006, Dennen and his friends and co-stars Ted Neeley, Yvonne Elliman and Ben Vereen were joined by comedian Jack Black in a one-night only, sold-out performance at the Ricardo Montalban Theatre. The author of several teleplays and screenplays, Barry published his moving personal memoir, "My Life with Barbra: A Love Story," in 1997, sharing for the first time in his own words the fascinating background behind the nightclub act he created and directed that launched Streisand's early stardom.

Filmography

Movie Name Release Date
Justice League: Throne of Atlantis January 13, 2015