Explore the captivating world of Broadway through the legendary performances of its shining stars. Julie Andrews, Jennifer Holliday, Ethel Merman, and Carol Channing are just a few to grace this list, leaving lasting imprints with their roles in ‘My Fair Lady,’ ‘Dreamgirls,’ ‘Gypsy,’ and ‘Hello, Dolly!,’ respectively. Contemporary performers like Lin-Manuel Miranda and Ben Platt revolutionize Broadway with their work in ‘Hamilton’ and ‘Dear Evan Hansen.’ This overview dissects some scene-stealing performances in the world of theatre – from Robert Preston in ‘The Music Man’ to Cynthia Erivo’s transformative role in ‘The Color Purple.’ Dive into this list to recapture precious moments of theatre magic.
1. Julie Andrews in ‘My Fair Lady’
Julie Andrews will forever be remembered as Eliza Doolittle in the original Broadway production of ‘My Fair Lady.’ Running from 1956 till 1962, this spectacular performance marked Andrews’ Broadway debut. Her mesmerizing portrayal of a Cockney flower girl being coached to fit into high society became an iconic moment in theater history. Andrews’ charm and versatile voice breathed life into Lerner and Loewe’s vibrant score, leaving audiences utterly enchanted.
2. Jennifer Holliday in ‘Dreamgirls’
The 1981 Broadway musical ‘Dreamgirls’ is remembered for the supreme performance of Jennifer Holliday. Her powerhouse portrayal of Effie White, particularly during the soul-baring number “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going,” has since become a historic Broadway moment. Holliday poured immense emotion into her character, delivering a performance that transcended the stage and established ‘Effie’ as one of the greatest characters in musical theatre.
3. Ethel Merman in ‘Gypsy’
Broadway legend Ethel Merman’s performance in ‘Gypsy’ in 1959 remains one of the most unforgettable performances in Broadway history. Playing the ambitious stage mother Mama Rose, Merman brought power, vulnerability, and a larger-than-life persona that made the character a theatre icon. Her booming final number, “Rose’s Turn,” encapsulates Merman’s command over her craft.
4. Carol Channing in ‘Hello, Dolly!’
Carol Channing’s 1964 performance as Dolly Levi in the original Broadway cast of ‘Hello, Dolly!’ was a unique blend of charisma, comedic timing, and musical brilliance. Channing’s peculiar voice and infectious energy made her the heart of the show, and her performance of the title song “Hello Dolly” is remembered as a magnum opus.
5. Lin-Manuel Miranda in ‘Hamilton’
The Broadway musical ‘Hamilton’ is widely regarded as a revolutionary masterpiece, largely due to Lin-Manuel Miranda’s unforgettable performance as Alexander Hamilton. Through Miranda’s profound delivery and musical genius, the title role was a complex interpretation of one of America’s Founding Fathers. The musical’s success propelled Miranda to further stardom while leaving a significant mark in theatre history.
6. Barbra Streisand in ‘Funny Girl’
Barbra Streisand took Broadway by storm with her 1964 performance as Fanny Brice in ‘Funny Girl.’ Streisand’s extraordinary vocal prowess and natural comic abilities were perfectly suited to the role, which allowed her to portray Brice with vulnerability and spunk. The show-stopping number “Don’t Rain on My Parade” became a major highlight that further cemented Streisand’s status as a Broadway legend.
7. Robert Preston in ‘The Music Man’
Robert Preston’s performance as Harold Hill in the 1957 production of ‘The Music Man’ is regarded as one of the all-time classics. With his vivacious energy and captivating charm, Preston embodied the con man character with absolute sincerity. His embodiment of ‘Professor’ Harold Hill was so complete that it became almost impossible to separate the actor from the role.
8. Patti LuPone in ‘Evita’
The 1979 Broadway production of ‘Evita’ starred Patti LuPone in a star-making performance as Argentina’s first lady, Eva Perón. LuPone’s powerful voice and imposing stage presence made a compelling protagonist in this Andrew Lloyd Webber musical. Her riveting rendition of “Don’t Cry for Me Argentina” remains one of the most striking moments in Broadway history.
9. Ben Platt in ‘Dear Evan Hansen’
Ben Platt’s portrayal of the socially awkward high-schooler Evan Hansen in the 2015 production of ‘Dear Evan Hansen’ is one of the most talked-about performances of the last decade. Platt’s dedication to the character remotely conveyed the despair, longing, and frailty of a teenager struggling with anxiety. His heartbreaking rendition of “Waving Through a Window” echoed the sentiment of a generation grappling with mental health issues, making it a groundbreaking performance.
10. Cynthia Erivo in ‘The Color Purple’
Bringing the harrowing journey of Celie to life, Cynthia Erivo delivered a performance in ‘The Color Purple’ in 2015, which was nothing short of transformational. Erivo’s emotionally nuanced portrayal coupled with her awe-inspiring vocals left audiences and critics moved. Her stirring rendition of “I’m Here” is considered a stand-out moment in Broadway history, a testimony to her extraordinary talent.