Skip to page content

 

In 1945, when JOHN RAITT made his Broadway debut playing Billy Bigelow in the Rodgers and Hammerstein masterpiece Carousel, he made musical history, introducing such immortal songs as "If I Loved You" and "Soliloquy." He emerged as one of the most notable stars of the Broadway stage and for more than 40 years has entertained standing-room-only audiences across the country with his rich baritone. Among his many stage credits are starring roles both on Broadway and in national companies of Oklahoma, Annie Get Your Gun, The Pajama Game, Zorba, Kismet, Shenandoah, The Music Man, A Joyful Noise and Man of La Mancha, among many others. Born in Santa Ana, California, Raitt began performing professionally with the Los Angeles Civic Light Opera and was shortly thereafter signed to a contract with MGM, where he appeared in Flight Command, Billy the Kid and Ziegfeld Girl. Following concert tours and additional stage productions, he was invited to take over for Alfred Drake in the role of Curly in the national company of Oklahoma! Impressed with his work, Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein decided to cast him as the star of the Broadway-bound Carousel, and he was subsequently voted "best performance of the year by an actor in a musical" by the New York Drama Critics, the Theatre World and Donaldson Awards Committee. Raitt celebrated the 50th anniversary of Oklahoma! by singing the show's title song on the stage of Broadway's St. James Theatre, where Oklahoma! first opened. He has received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and was inducted into the Theatre Hall of Fame at the Gershwin Theatre on Broadway. He has performed with his daughter many times, including a special PBS concert with the Boston Pops Orchestra conducted by John Williams.