Born in Jersey City, New Jersey, Fowler was a teacher with a fondness for Broadway theatre when she decided to audition for Gantry in 1970. She was signed for the chorus and as understudy for the lead, but the show unfortunately closed on opening night. She had better luck with her next outing, Stephen Sondheim’s A Little Night Music. Additional Broadway credits include 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Peter Pan, Baby, Take Me Along, Teddy & Alice, the 1989 revival of Sweeney Todd, in which she portrayed Mrs. Lovett, Beauty and the Beast, in which she originated the role of Mrs. Potts, Bells Are Ringing, and The Boy from Oz where she portrayed Peter Allen’s mother Marion.
Fowler has been nominated for two Tony Awards, as Best Featured Actress in a Musical for The Boy From Oz and as Best Actress in a Musical for Sweeney Todd as Mrs. Lovett, which garnered her a Drama Desk Award nomination as well.
During her career, Fowler also appeared in a number of films, include Sister Act and Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit as Choir Nun, Friends & Family, Did You Hear About the Morgans?, I Don’t Know How She Does It, and Mulan, in which she sang “Honor to Us All”. On television, Fowler guest starred on Law & Order, Law & Order: Criminal Intent, Ed, and Gossip Girl. In 2013, she began appearing in the recurring role as Sister Jane Ingalls in the Netflix comedy-drama series, ORANGE Is the New BLACK. Along with cast, Fowler received two Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series.
Fowler holds a Music Education Degree from Caldwell College for Women, (now Caldwell University).