SUELLEN ESTEY grew up in a small town in Iowa. On her walk to school, she would look up. If there was plane overhead, would say a prayer, “Please, God, may I be on that plane going … anywhere.” The path that opened, was first, Stephens College and Okoboji Summer Theater. Then, a transfer to Northwestern University, where she earned her BA degree in Theater Arts. Her first professional paycheck was $90.00 per week from Wagon Wheel Playhouse in Warsaw, Indiana. She returned to Chicago and began knocking on doors, submitting her picture and resume to the doorman of the Schubert Theater. This led to an audition for the touring company of Sweet Charity starring Chita Rivera. She auditioned. She got the job. She got her Actors’ Equity Card on that stage. Within the next two years, she was cast as “Pegeen Ryan” in the post-Broadway engagement of Mame starring Angela Lansbury, playing the Curran Theater in San Francisco and the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in LA. The day after Mame closed, she carried her makeup kit to the other end of the Music Center, to begin as the “telephone girl” and understudy for “Sally Bowles” in the national tour of CabaretThat was the beginning … SuEllen’s most recent Broadway performance was as “Queen of Transylvania” in the Tony nominated revival of My Fair Lady for Lincoln Center Theater, directed by Bartlett Sher.

SuEllen Estey has appeared in more than 150 professional productions.

SuEllen is still actively performing. In the summer of 2022, she performed the role of “Berthe” in a production of PIPPIN at Playhouse on Park, in West Hartford, CT.

SuEllen Estey’s papers are being collected at her alma mater in the Northwestern University Archives. 

Her papers can be accessed by clicking this link here: Charles Deering McCormick Library.


Photo Credits:
BARNUM (personal photo); Stephen Sondheim (photo by SuEllen);  Stop the World I Want to Get Off (photo by Carol Rosegg); My Fair Lady (personal backstage photo); Pygmalion (personal backstage photo); Olympus on My Mind with Kenny Boys; Photo from the album cover of The Bathrooms are Coming; The Sound of Music (photo by Michael Ortiz); Oklahoma (photo by Lee Langum); Das Phantom der Oper (photo by Ralph Brinkhoff. These are reproductions from the souvenir brochure of the Hamburg PHANTOM OF THE OPERA production 1998 © Brinkhoff/Moegenberg.); Richard Rodgers (photo signed to SuEllen); MAME with Angela Lansbury (personal signed photo in dressing room); A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum with Zero Mostel (photo by Pam McComb); 1776 with Howard DaSilva and William Daniels; Sunday in the Park with George (Costume Book by Robert Cohen); Sweeney Todd (Revival) (photo by Martha Swope ©The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts); SuEllen with Luciano Pavarotti (personal photo); Evening with Josh Logan, The Theatre Guild at Sea (photo by David Laundra); My Fair Lady (personal photo backstage at the Vivian Beaumont Theater); La Cage Aux Folles (Revival Tour) (photo by Bob Compton, courtesy of The Starlight Theatre); SuEllen in Paris (personal photo); Das Phantom der Oper (personal photo); It’s Almost Christmas Eve (CD Cover Design by Ron Spivak); 42nd Street (Revival Tour) (personal photo).