In 1995 Michele made her Broadway debut in the original production of Les Misérables. Here, at around the age of nine, Michele was featured on an early-morning talk show, where she performed “Castle on a Cloud.” At the time, she alternated in the role of Young Cosette in Les Miz.
Michele garnered attention in the theatre scene in 2006 when she returned to Broadway in Spring Awakening. In the production, which transferred from an Off-Broadway run at the Atlantic Theater Company, Michele starred as troubled-teen Wendla Bergman—a role that she was attached to since the musical’s early workshop phase. Here, Michele performs “Mama Who Bore Me” at the 2007 Drama Desk Awards. (She received a Drama Desk nod for Outstanding Actress in a Musical.)
After Spring Awakening became a hit and cult favorite, the musical was nominated for 11 Tony Awards (winning eight, including Best Musical). Here, Michele and the cast perform a medley of songs from the Duncan Sheik-Steven Sater musical at the Tonys, which included “Mama Who Bore Me,” “The Bitch of Living” and “Totally F*cked.”
In 2008, Michele returned to her Broadway roots—this time taking on the role of Eponine in the Hollywood Bowl production of Les Misérables. The performer joined a star-studded cast that featured Tony winners Brian Stokes Mitchell and John Lloyd Young. Here is a clip of her “On My Own.”
That same year, Michele auditioned for “Glee,” the Fox musical series that made her a household name. For her audition, she chose to reprise her performance of “On My Own.” Although she thought she blew her audition—having to start her song over again and receiving laughs for her dramatic monologue—she still landed the role of Rachel Berry.
When the actress is not performing on “Glee,” she often reunites with Spring Awakening co-star—and best friend—Jonathan Groff. Here, in one of her many cabaret performances, she covers Jason Mraz’s “Lucky” with Groff.
In 2010, the Tony Awards welcomed back Broadway's Michele and Matthew Morrison. Even though the two were not a part of the Broadway season, they both performed—Morrison offered “All I Need is the Girl” from Gypsy, and Michele belted out “Don’t Rain on My Parade” from Funny Girl (a song she also covered on “Glee”). Who could forget when Michele replaced “Hey, Mister Arnstein!” with “Hey, Tony Awards!”?
As for Michele’s performances on “Glee,” one unforgettable moment was when she covered Christina Perri’s “Jar of Hearts.” At McKinley High’s prom, Rachel Berry took the stage for the heartfelt ballad.
At last year’s Super Bowl (Super Bowl XLV: Green Bay Packers vs. Pittsburgh Steelers, for sports fans), Michele was asked to perform. Here, before the game, she sang “America the Beautiful.”
On screen, Michele was most recently seen in the feature film “New Year’s Eve.” Here is her performance of “Auld Lang Syne” from the movie.
Although it’s not a performance, we thought we'd include Michele’s acceptance speech at the Jan. 11 People’s Choice Awards.