Thursday, September 24, 2009

Show Tunes: The Divas

I just went to a production of A Chorus Line last night, so I am pumped up for my second Show Tunes segment! the show is full of wannabe divas, so that is a perfect segue. Now what, may I ask, would a Broadway show be without a diva? (Or, in Glee terms, a "stunning young ingenue everyone roots for"). Not much, that's what. Here are some of my favorite standouts, from old-school Broadway stars down to the more recent up-and-comers:

Ethel Merman- The original Mama Rose in the frequently-revived Gypsy. The Merm could belt. The Merm didn't need a mic. The Merm is classic:

Everything's Coming Up Roses (Gypsy)

Mary Martin- When I think of MM I think wholesome. I think J. M. Barrie and I think Rodgers & Hammerstein:

Cockeyed Optimist (South Pacific)

Julie Andrews - Though possibly most well-known as Maria in film version of The Sound of Music (played by Mary Martin on Broadway) she was the original Eliza Doolittle on Broadway. Audrey Hepburn is one of my all-time favorite people (of all time ;), but she didn't do her own singing in the film version of My Fair Lady. Julie was upset by not being cast in the film after being with Rex Harrison in the Broadway cast, but that same year another little film called Mary Poppins was also released for which Julie won an Oscar. Now that's what I call Karma people:

I Could Have Danced All Night (My Fair Lady)

Patti LuPone- The epitome of diva, right here. Never was there more perfect casting than Miss LuPone as Eva Perone in Evita. What could be more fitting than a diva playing a diva? She was also the original Fantine and a year ago won a Tony for the the most recent revival of Gypsy as a Mama Rose to rival The Merman. (check out this video of her Gypsy acceptance speech. Oh. My. Diva):

I Dreamed a Dream (Les Miserables)

Bernadette Peters- She is phenomenal and I swear the woman doesn't age. I got to see her in a revival of Annie Get Your Gun and also as Mama Rose in Gypsy, and she just has so much humor and charisma (not to mention incredible hair):

Happiness (Sunday in the Park with George)

Elaine Paige- How could we leave out the woman who originated the role with the most overplayed song in Broadway history (Well, this is actually the Original London cast version which I grew up with- on Broadway it was Betty Buckley in the role). She's done plenty of other things too, but she will always be Grizabella to me:

Memory (Cats)

Audra McDonald- Love her. So beautiful and soooo talented. She won three Tony awards by the time she was 28! I would have killed to see her in Ragtime with Brian Stokes Mitchell who is maybe one of the only leading men who can match her musically:

Simple Little Things (110 in the Shade)

Lea Salonga- Ahh, our resident Disney princess. To be honest, I grew up listening to the Original London Cast recording of Les Miserables and I think that Lea's voice (from the Broadway Cast version) is too... pretty, I guess, for Eponine. I prefer the grittier Frances Ruffelle version from the London Cast. Gotta love Lea though, since she is the singing voice of both Jasmine and Mulan and was the heartbreaking Kim in Miss Saigon:

I Would Give My Life For You (Miss Saigon)

Sherie Rene Scott- Such a unique voice and some extremely varied roles:

Here I Am (Dirty Rotten Scoundrels)

Sutton Foster- Saw her in Thoroughly Modern Millie and again in Little Women. She is so high energy and physical comedy and entertainment. Plus, extra points for her guest spot in Season One of Flight of the Conchords as Bret's girlfriend Coco:

Gimmee Gimmee (Thoroughly Modern Millie)

Kristin Chenoweth- She is so fantastic. How in the world does that huge voice and all of that bubbly energy come out of that tiny little body? Though I loved all of the characters, she was possibly my very favorite, or at least the funniest, part of Pushing Daisies:

Goodnight, My Someone (The Music Man)

Idina Menzel- Saw her in Wicked. Twice. Amazing. I think a lot of her appeal is that her voice is so edgy and not a traditional Broadway sound. Girl can go all over the place with her vocals. I have seen Wicked a couple of other times with other leads whose voices were just as good, but seeing her live, it was obviously not just her voice but her personality that won her the role. She has amazing comic timing and this loveable-ness and you really feel like she is the character (Plus, way to bag hottie Taye Diggs (costars in the original cast of Rent) as your husband in real life):

The Life of the Party (The Wild Party)

Kelli O'Hara- I got to see her in The Light in the Piazza and she was incredible. All of the people that I have gotten to see live were of course incredible, that's why they get picked for leading roles in eight times a week live performances, but with Kelli, after her solo numbers, there was literally a ripple throughout the audience of everyone releasing the breath that they had been holding in a unanimous sigh of 'wow.' I would have loved to have seen her in the recent revival of South Pacific. I've no doubt we'll be seeing more of her:

The Light in the Piazza (The Light in the Piazza)

Laura Benanti- Also won a Tony for the recent revival of Gypsy with Patti LuPone. I adore her voice and her character range- she can go from 80s valley girl to opera star:

Unusual Way (Nine)

Karen Olivo- I got to see her as Vanessa in In the Heights a year ago, and this past summer she won a Tony for playing Anita in the revival of West Side Story. I hope she will be in more shows. Great voice, great attitude. We need a Latina Disney princess so that she can play her:

It Won't Be Long Now (In the Heights)

Honorary Mentions:

Barbara Streisand- as Fanny Brice in Funny Girl on Broadway, preceding the movie version:

Don't Rain On My Parade (Funny Girl)

Sara Brightman - though she may not have quite as impressive of a resume as the others as far as Broadway shows go, I could hardly leave out the original Christine Daae. (Plus, she was the muse for the composer, Andrew Lloyd Webber, who became her husband. Er, for a while):

Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again (The Phantom of the Opera)

Linda Eder- though she has done recordings for multiple Broadway shows/songs, she has only starred in one. It's one to remember though (She was also the influence for the composer, Frank Wildhorn who also became her husband. Ummm, but also not anymore):

Someone Like You (Jekyll & Hyde)

There are several others who I considered as well:
Liza Minnelli, Angela Lansbury, Marin Mazzie, Stephanie J. Block, Lea Michele ... but these are my standouts. I hope I didn't leave anyone crucial out- other theatre dorks (I know who you are) please correct me if I overlooked someone!


dave + kirst said...

Well I think you got everyone, if I think of anyone else I'll let you know. Good song choices! Ah to sing like that! Sigh.. maybe when I reach heaven.

SisterPresidentMann said...

I don't know if I like there being so many wonderful divas who weren't even BORN when I started listening to divas! Nice choices - isn't it fun when you've seen them in person?

Anonymous said...

oooo i really want to get the 110 in the shade music from you. It's gorgeous! I can't wait to see that next year!