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Mary Beth Peil poster

Mary Beth Peil

Mary Beth Peil (born June 25, 1940) is an American opera singer and actress.Born in Davenport, Iowa, Peil (pronounced "peel") trained as an opera singer at Northwestern University under Lotte Lehmann. There she became a member of the Gamma Phi Beta sorority. In the 1960s, the soprano toured with Boris Goldovsky's opera company and the Metropolitan Opera's national company singing such roles as Susanna in Mozart and da Ponte's The Marriage of Figaro. She also sang with the New York City Opera. In 1971, she originated the role of Alma in the opera Summer and Smoke, based on a Tennessee Williams play, and performed it again when it was broadcast on television.Peil was persuaded to take a role in Kiss Me, Kate and soon found herself on Broadway. In May 1983 she was cast as the twelfth Anna Leonowens to Yul Brynner's King of Siam in the revival of The King and I. Some critics said she was better than Gertrude Lawrence, who originated the role, and Peil was nominated in 1985 for a Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Musical.Peil won an Obie Award in 1995 for her work in three non-musical plays, The Naked Truth, Missing Persons, and A Cheever Evening.In 1996 and 1997, Peil toured in A. R. Gurney's Sylvia with Charles Kimbrough and Stephanie Zimbalist. She played evangelist Aimee Semple McPherson in a revival of Irving Berlin and Moss Hart's As Thousands Cheer.Peil's work has been confined largely to the stage. She made her film debut in 1992's Jersey Girl. She appeared in Law & Order in 1994. She also was "Felice," the love interest of Jack Lemmon (as "Felix") in 1998's "The Odd Couple" sequel. In May 1999, Peil appeared in the Yale Repertory Theatre's production of the Noel Coward play Hay Fever. She played the beggar woman in Sweeney Todd at the Kennedy Center in 2002 and in the spring of 2003 she played Antonio Banderas's mother in the revival of the musical Nine. In the winter of 2003, she again appeared on the New York stage, starring in Frame 312, Keith Reddin's play about the Kennedy assassination. In 2008 she appeared as the Old Lady and Blair Daniels in the Roundabout Theatre revival of Stephen Sondheim's Sunday in the Park with George.Between 1998 and 2003, Peil was introduced to a wider audience through her role as Evelyn 'Grams' Ryan on teen television drama Dawson's Creek. Alongside the four main young stars of that show, she was the only actress to appear as a credited regular throughout the show's six-season run, appearing in 74 of 128 episodes.She also played Nancy Reagan's mother Edith in the Showtime movie The Reagans.Peil was seen last in M Proust by Mary Zimmerman at the Steppenwolf Upstairs Theatre.She has just finished working in Romania on thriller film, Mirrors, with Kiefer Sutherland in the starring role.She is a grandmother.