Happy Birthday "Bunheads"! Where's the Cast Now?
Seven years ago today something very special entered the lives of bunheads everywhere. What was it? Well, “Bunheads,” the Amy Sherman-Palladino television show that aired on ABC Family for 18 short episodes, until the final curtain fell in February of 2013. Unlike the sadistic pop culture depictions of ballet that sandwiched it (Black Swan in 2010 and “Flesh and Bone” in 2015), “Bunheads” was a wholesome, funny and mostly true-to-life look at what it’s really like to be a teenage trina.
The show, which followed a group of four high schooler dancers and best friends living in a sleepy California town, dealt with issues like body image, competition, the struggle to afford new pointe shoes, family drama and more. And it was chock-full of creative and very real dancing. As for the girls‘ two teachers, “Bunheads” starred some of our favorite dance-happy musical theater actresses of all time: Kelly Bishop and Sutton Foster. And to really push it over the edge, Sherman-Palladino wrote the show in the same kind of rapid-fire, reference-filled, quippy style that made her earlier “Gilmore Girls” a smash hit. (Sherman-Palladino, we saw that “Gilmore Girls” revival… where’s our “Bunheads” reunion?)
So in honor of “Bunheads”‘s birthday, top players are up to now.
Sutton Foster – Michelle Simms
Musical theater queen Sutton Foster played the show’s protagonist, Michelle Simms, a sarcastic, charming former ballerina turned Vegas showgirl, who winds up moving to Paradise, California with her husband (who’s mother owns the local dance studio) and soon after dies in a car accident.
IRL, Foster has been very busy. She continues to be one of the biggest names in Broadway: In 2014 she starred in Violet, which earned her a sixth Tony Award nomination, and in September of 2020 she’ll return to the stage in the revival of The Music Man, opposite Hugh Jackman. And “Bunheads” only whet her appetite for TV: She’s acted in the series “Younger,” and made a song-and-dance cameo in Sherman-Palladino’s “Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life.” She’s also the mother to an adorable daughter.
Kaitlyn Jenkins – Boo Jordan
Boo was the show’s unlikely heroine, a hard worker with a sweet temperament constantly pushing back against the physical expectations of the ballet world. Actress Kaitlyn Jenkins had a lot in common with her character (you can read all about her in our 2013 cover story). Since “Bunheads,” Jenkins has acted in a number of short films and made appearances in TV shows like “Don’t Worry You’re Not Invited” and the upcoming “The Last Scion.” According to her Instagram, she’s also teaching dance.
Julia Goldani Telles – Sasha Torres
Sasha was the resident mean girl of “Bunheads,” seemingly perfect on the outside but troubled within. Julia Goldani Telles, the actress who played her, has since had recurring roles on “Nurse Jackie” and “The Affair.” Like Foster, she also played a small part in “Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life.” Telles attended Columbia University, and will show off her dancing chops once again in this new We Are Courtship music video.
Bailey De Young – Ginny Thompson
Ginny was peppy, upbeat and like Boo, she struggled with her body image (she was self-conscious about needing to wear a bra under her leotard). Towards the end of the show she auditioned for a musical, leading us to believe that she would have eventually left ballet for theater.
Since “Bunheads,” Bailey De Young (nee Buntain) has had a lot of luck in the Sherman-Palladino-verse. After a small role on “Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life,” she’s back as Imogene Cleary on “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.” In an early episode we saw her in a highly choreographed 1950s-style exercise class, where she put all that dance training to good use.
Emma Dumont – Melanie Segal
The fourth bunhead, Melanie Segal, ended up finding more joy in roller derby that she did at the barre. And according to Emma Dumont’s Instagram bio, dance and derby are both still a part of her life. Her lengthy list of post-“Bunhead” TV credits includes “The Gifted,” “[email protected],” “Aquarius” and others.
Kelly Bishop – Fanny Flowers
As the former Ballet Russe dancer and tough-love ballet teacher Fanny Flowers, Kelly Bishop was spot-on. In the show’s pilot, after her students groaned about a tough combination, she delivered this deadpan line: “Mr. Balanchine once made us do grand battements for two and a half hours. We only stopped when somebody dropped dead.”
As far as we’re concerned, Bishop is dance royalty. She originated the role of Sheila in A Chorus Line on Broadway (for which she won a Tony) and played Jennifer Grey’s mother in Dirty Dancing. Oh, and she’s probably best known today for her role as Emily Gilmore on “Gilmore Girls.” Since “Bunheads,” she’s appeared in TV shows including “The Good Wife,” “Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life,” “Flesh and Bone” and more.
Matisse Love – Matisse
Matisse Love played herself on the show, one of the younger students always around the studio who occasionally got a line. The only professional bunhead to come out of the pack, Love later graduated from the Bolshoi Academy in Moscow, and today dances with The Russian State Ballet Theater.
RaJahnae Patterson – Rahjanae
Like Love, RaJahnae Patterson was a dance extra often hanging around the main crew. Today, Patterson is in Vegas! The Show. She’s also performed with Miley Cyrus’ Bangerz Tour and with Neal Patrick Harris at the 65th Emmy Awards. Based in Las Vegas, she also teaches dance at the Millenium Dance Complex.
Jeanine Mason – Cozette
Cozette showed up towards the end of “Bunheads”‘s run, creating all sorts of drama and competition. Jeanine Mason, who played the role, won “So You Think You Can Dance” in 2009. After “Bunheads,” she had a recurring role on “Grey’s Anatomy.” Today she is best known as Liz Ortecho in the CW show “Roswell, New Mexico.” In a recent Watch! article, she attributed her ability to take direction on set to her extensive dance training.