Shelly Burch, who was born in Tucson, Arizona, and grew up in Washington D.C., came to New York City, after attending Carnegie-Mellon, and immediately landed a role on Broadway in the 1978 revival of ‘Stop The World, I Want To Get Off” with Sammy Davis Jr. She then went on to play Star-to-Be, and Lily in “Annie” for 804 performances on Broadway. In 1981 she left “Annie” to create the role of Claudia in Tommy Tune’s “Nine,” where she introduced the Maury Yeston classic “Unusual Way,” (for which she received a Drama Desk nomination). Frank Rich, then the theatre critic for The New York Times, called her “a Modigliani Goddess with a strong voice and an almost other worldly presence.”
While appearing in “Nine,” TV beckoned and she became the devilish Delila in the classic ABC-TV soap opera “One Life to Live.” She vamped her way through eight seasons, but still found time to develop three nightclub acts that she performed at the Duplex, Greene Street, and Freddy’s in New York City, and at Blues Alley in Washington D.C.
In 1989, Shelly returned to the stage, starring as Julie in the Paper Mill Playhouse production of “Show Boat,” which was filmed for Great Performances on PBS. Later that year, Shelly moved to Orlando where she married and ultimately had three children. Between soccer games in Florida, she continued to perform, playing among other roles, the lead in A.J. Gurney’s “Later Life”, Aldonza in “Man of La Mancha,” and the title role in “A Closer Walk with Patsy Cline”, garnering rave reviews.
Divorced in 1998, Shelly also sang with the Orlando Philharmonic, and performed the national anthem at the Meadowlands and RFK Stadium and three times at the Republican National Convention.
In 2004, Shelly called an old friend – her “Annie” director Martin Charnin – and together they embarked on her re-emergence into the world of theatre and cabaret, and he created 3 cabaret acts for her which played in Orlando and Washington D.C.
She subsequently moved to the Pacific Northwest, where she triumphed in “Shelly’s Back” at the Crepe De Paris in Seattle. “ She also performed in Issaquah at Village Theatre in the new musical “Robin Hood,” and in “Shadowlands,” the story of the love affair between C.S. Lewis and Joy Gresham, and again received accolades ranging from “radiant” to “stunningly attractive”. She played the role of Joanne in “Company” (originated on Broadway by Elaine Stritch) at The 5th Avenue Theatre, Where critics again acclaimed her portrayal as “searing and heartbreaking.” Shelly also created one the leading roles in Village Theatre’s production of “Love is Love,” which moved to The Moore Theatre in Seattle, and went on to be produced in Florida in October 2009, at The Maltz Jupiter Theatre in Jupiter Florida, and received glowing notices.
Shelly also played the role of Mrs. Kelly in the Showtunes Theatre Company production of “Annie Warbucks.” In 2007 she recorded, alongside Carol Burnett, Harve Presnell, Sally Struthers, Kathie Lee Gifford, Andrea McArdle, and a host of other “Annie” Company members, two different roles on the Time-Life 30th Anniversary recording of “Annie”. The two disc set is currently available all over the country.–link to Amazon.com
In 2007 she co-starred “Rodgers &…” –a 62 song celebration of the life and career of Richard Rodgers and his five collaborators, the last of which was Martin Charnin (now her husband). The event was called a “moveable feast”. Originally performed at the Kirkland Performing Arts Center in Kirkland, Washington, for Showtunes Theatre Company, “Rodger’s &…” opened the 2008 Lyrics and Lyricists Series at the 92nd Y in NYC. A month later, Shelly returned to the New York Cabaret scene performing her brand new entertainment “Second Coming” with lyrics and direction by Tony, Emmy and Grammy winner, Charnin. The reviews for her show were a reclamation of Frank Rich’s 1982 kudo.
Back in the Pacific Northwest, she starred in 3 independent films, the last of which “Oy Vey! My Son Is Gay”, was released in 2010, and she then went on to star as Dorothy Brock in Village’s 4 month long production of “42nd St.”, again garnering sensational reviews.
A one-woman show is now being readied for production in 2011.