Top Divas of Broadway
The archetypal Broadway star is a women and legendary ladies were the bulbs that lit the great white say in its golden and silver ages and they sure still dominate the mythology of the genre. Choosing one favourite is a deeply personal journey that never ends as the variety of great divas each brings a different dimension of special to the stage.
Carol Burnett’s musical theatre career includes the 1959 hit show called Once Upon a Mattress, in 1964 she returns to Hollywood in a musical called Fade Out – Fade In, followed with a long break until the 1999 Sondheim collage of Putting It Together. She was worshipped for her comedy and sketch series in the 1970s and it can only be imagined what Burnett would have achieved, if she decided to stuck it out on the boards.
Barbra Streisand might have had the starring role in only one musical as Fanny Brice but the ugly duckling of Funny Girl never really left Broadway. She brings Broadway with her movies, concert halls and albums. Her signature vocal style is a bridge suspension between microphone pop and old school belting. Streisand remains influential throughout the theatre world. As Adam Feldman said… Sometimes just a single stamp can leave a lifelong deep impression.
Liza Minnelli was born a showbiz merger between Judy Garland and Vincente Minnelli. Liza has entertainment in her blood and she has always eagerly poured herself out on the stage. Liza Minnelli was 19 years old when she won her first Tony Award for the 1965 Flora, the Red Menace and her trademark mannerisms is the spiky jazz dance gestures, widened eyes into need pools and the huge acting choices have remained largely intact through the decades. Even in her sixties with an EGOT behind her name, Minnelli still seems precocious as if she is seeking the audience’s approval and love. After countless travails, personal and professional, Liza Minnelli continues to give Broadway her all, ever the sequined model.
Dorothy Loudon was a master of letting loose, no one could shake it like Dorothy. She honed her comic craft in a series of short lived Broadway shows, in nightclubs, plumbing her quavering and expressive pipes to madcap effect. She was often both loud and dotty, true to her name. She hit the 1977 jackpot flouncing gleefully through her role in Annie as the villainous miss Hannigan and in her next show the Ballroom, a musical drama, Loudon confirms that she could not only split your sides but she could break the audiences heart.
Christine Ebersole, has and can do it all, from films to nightclub acts and even a successful season of Saturday Night Live. Christina is a quasi-operatic soprano that moves with ease and can really knock out a number. After many years in the business Ebersole ascended to the pantheon in 2006 with her uncanny channelling of the unhinged sharp minded Little Edie Beale in the cult musical Grey Gardens.
Idina Menzel built herself a stratospheric reputation on the strength of two mega musical hits, Wicked and Rent and no one is going to ever bring her down. She has not been back on the Broadway stage since her final high of the climax of Defying Gravity in 2005. Theatre goers want more of Menzel and Broadway seeks her vocally spiky, quirky and modern mega talent but she can’t be dumped in any revival … original musicals will have to rise to her.