Legally Blonde's Vivienne
"These days, I value the Miss America title to an extraordinary extent because it gives me access to communities where most AIDS activists can't get in the door. People are afraid to talk about AIDS, but they aren't afraid of Miss America. The credibility of the Miss America Organization is a tremendous asset in my work and has enabled me to become a respected activist. That's what Miss America really is these days. No, she's not a doctor or a scientist, but she can be a peer educator. With respect to AIDS and a lot of other problems facing teens, peer education is tremendously underrated. It's worked for me." Kate Shindle
Miss America 1998 Kate Shindle has branched out into acting and has a relatively successful career on stage. She made her Broadway debut as Lucy in a production of the musical "Jekyll & Hyde" and played Sally Bowles in the Broadway and national tour of the Tony-winning "Cabaret" revival. She now plays Vivienne Kensington, Elle Woods' main rival, in the Broadway musical based on the Amanda Brown novel and the 2001 film starring Oscar winner Reese Witherspoon, "Legally Blonde," which officially opened on Broadway on April 29, 2007.
Having sang since the age of 4, Shindle has performed in a number of recordings and concerts.
Childhood and Family:
Born on January 31, 1979, in Toledo, Ohio, Katherine Shindle grew up in Moorestown, New Jersey. She attended Bishop Eustace Preparatory School in Pennsauken, New Jersey, where she appeared in shows like "Into the Woods" and "Godspell." She then attended Northwestern University and graduated with a bachelor's degree in theater and a certificate in musical theater in 1999. She also did graduate work at NYU and UCLA.
Kate now lives in a two-bedroom apartment in New York City, alongside her cats Howard, Roark and Vivvie.
20-year-old Kate Shindle delivered the loudest-ever rendition of Barbra Streisand's popular song from the 1964 musical "Funny Girl," "Don't Rain on My Parade," which would impress judges of Miss America 1998, where she represented the state of Illinois as Miss Illinois 1997. After being crowned Miss America 1998, Shindle, who has chosen AIDS prevention as her platform issue, traveled the country talking about HIV prevention, AIDS issues, and safe sex during her year of service. She also participated in and chaired a session at a conference at the World Health Organization in Geneva, Switzerland.
“My work with AIDS started after a professor in our theater department died right after I got to college, and subsequently a family friend discovered he was living with AIDS. Like most people, I didn't begin my activism until I learned the hard way that this epidemic could penetrate even my white, middle-class, suburban comfort zone. I always say that growing up, I knew that AIDS was killing people, but I didn't know whom or where. It's not that I was apathetic. It's just that I was uneducated.” Kate Shindle
Graduating from Northwestern University, Kate Shindle moved to New York and got a job at a deli while trying to break into acting. She soon landed a role in the Broadway production of the musical based on the novel by Robert Louis Stevenson, "Jekyll & Hyde," playing the beautiful prostitute Lucy, opposite Rob Evan in the title roles.
Not long after, she returned to Broadway starring as the English 19-year-old cabaret performer Sally Bowles in both the Broadway and national touring production of the Tony-winning "Cabaret" revival. Based on John Van Druten's play "I Am a Camera," which in turn was adapted from the novel "Mr. Norris Changes Trains" and a collection of short stories, "Goodbye to Berlin," by Christopher Isherwood, the production was directed by Sam Mendes and Rob Marshall.
Shindle subsequently became a correspondent on the NBC morning news program "Today," and played small roles in Frank Oz's film adaptation of Ira Levin novel, "The Stepford Wives" (2004; starring Nicole Kidman, Bette Midler, and Matthew Broderick), and Bennett Miller's Academy Award-winning biographical film "Capote" (2005; starring Philip Seymour Hoffman). She was also spotted as a guest in an episode of CBS’ long-running soap opera, "As the World Turns."
During this time, Shindle, who has sung with The Atlanta Symphony, The Cincinnati Pops, and at popular New York venues including Joe's Pub, Birdland, Don't Tell Mama, The Duplex, Ars Nova, and Danny's Skylight Room, provided her beautiful voice for a number of recordings and concerts. Her first CD, “Christmases to Come,” was released in 1999 on SSP Records. It featured the Chicago jazz ensemble Skip Sams' Society Sound and was used to promote AIDS awareness and raise money for the National AIDS Fund. Her first proper solo CD, “Till Today,” eventually hit the stores in 2003. It was produced by Skip Sams and released on Sams' label. In 2005, Shindle recorded Frank Wildhorn's "Dracula" and "Jekyll & Hyde – Resurrection," both on Wildhorn's label GlobalVision Records and joined composer Jeremy Schonfeld for a concert in conjunction with the release of his new CD, “37 Notebooks.”
Shindle has also done extensive regional work, including Arthur Miller's "After the Fall" (as Maggie) at The Alley, "Himself and Nora" (as Nora Barnacle) at The Old Globe, the musical "Gypsy" (as Louise), which was loosely based on the 1957 memoirs of the famous striptease artist Gypsy Rose Lee, "Into the Woods" (as Witch), the award-winning musical inspired by Bruno Bettelheim's 1976 book "The Uses of Enchantment," Agatha Christie's murder mystery "The Mousetrap" (as Miss Casewell), and "First Lady Suite" (as Amelia Earhart). Her other New York work includes William Shakespeare's classic romantic comedy "A Midsummer Night's Dream" (as Helena), and "The Woman Upstairs" (as Kassan). She also won praise for her one-woman show, “Me and My Shadow: Songs I've Heard in Pageants,” and her headlining performance in “Nights on Broadway” at Caesars Atlantic City in New Jersey.
Additionally, Shindle, alongside her friend Jamie McGonnigal, co-founded the World AIDS Day Concerts to raise funds for various AIDS service organizations. It has since released productions of Stephen Schwartz's two-act musical play loosely based on the "Book of Genesis," "Children of Eden" (as Yonah), Stephen Schwartz's musical based on the life of the son of Charlemagne, "Pippin" (with Ben Vereen and Rosie O'Donnell), the musical based on the 1909 classic children's novel by Frances Hodgson Burnett, "The Secret Garden" (as Mrs. Winthrop), and the musical "Rags."
"As an AIDS volunteer, I have seen victims lose their youth, their self-esteem, and their dreams for the future. Because AIDS is a major killer of Americans ages 25-44, it is critical for Miss America to show concern for the magnitude of this disease and its effect on the public." Kate Shindle
Shindle now plays Vivienne Kensington, Elle Woods' (portrayed by Laura Bell Bundy) main rival, in the Broadway musical based on the Amanda Brown novel and the 2001 film starring Oscar winner Reese Witherspoon, "Legally Blonde." After a pre-Broadway tryout at the Golden Gate Theatre in San Francisco, the Broadway production directed and choreographed by Jerry Mitchell officially opened at the Palace Theatre on April 29, 2007, to primarily positive reviews. It has since been recorded for an MTV airing and will be followed up by West End and U.S. tour productions.
Shindle has also been published as a writer in "Newsweek," "The Advocate" and "Poz." She penned a novel titled "Crown Chasers" and is currently working on her second novel, tentatively titled "November."