For his March 25, 1998 STAGESTRUCK column, Peter Filichia announced his choices for the 100 top Broadway musical performers of all time. Playbill On-Line invited readers to suggest names that they would have added to the list -- and names they would have left off the list.
The great volume of responses caused us to create this second file of results. Playbill On-Line thanks all those who took the time to write.
How could you forget such a luminous star as Joanna Gleason, or raucous as Elaine Stritch! The magic of Ann Miller, or the style and grace of Marcia Mitzman.
Definitely missing, and not because she just passed away, is gorgeous voiced Laurie Beechman.
From Gotham PC:
I have to add three of Broadway's current character actresses to the list with the wish that we start seeing even more of them:
Faith Prince for her wonderful comic characterizations: Guys & Dolls, Nick & Nora, Jerome Robbins Broadway but more importantly for her untapped dramatic side (if you saw her perform "Holding to the Ground" in Falsettoland you know she could stop a show).
Debra Monk: Company (would you attempt a role Elaine Stritch made famous?), Steel Pier, Nick & Nora and Pump Boys & Dinettes (performer and co-author).
Alison Fraser: The Secret Garden, Romance/Romance, The Green Heart.
From Tina Sheing:
I enjoyed your list! What do you think you could do for the 50 top up-and-coming legends -- Starting with SAM HARRIS - what a match that would be considering he's playing your #1 Al Jolson!
i feel like a lot of newer performers were looked over for the sake of older ones. Especially the star of Chicago, Bebe Neuwirth. In my opinion, if people like Liza Minnelli are going to be mentioned, then it is only fair to put Bebe Neuwirth on it.
What? No Karen Morrow? It's a scandal, it's an outrage....
I think I would have definitely found a place for Victor Garber. Forget that he has 3 TONY nominations-he's in the biggest motion picture of all time & still comes back to Broadway. Besides, how can you not love the man who sang JOHANNA?
I almost agree with the list, but would have loved to have seen the following people included: Kaye Ballard, George Hearn, Jennifer Holliday, Laine Kazan, Dorothy Louden and Andrea McArdle.
From John Conrad (firstname.lastname@example.org):
Where's KAYE BALLARD? Golden Apple, Carnival!, Decline and Fall..., So Long 174th Street, Hey MA!.....and BEN VEREEN, Pippin, Grind, etc..
I have one question....Did you ever see RENT?
People I think should be added:
Julie Andrews (can't believe she isn't there but didn't see her)
George M. Cohan
Ezio Pinza (for both South Pacific and Fanny)
Michael Crawford (more for Billy than for Phantom)
Also, you say you were looking for people who did a body of work but unless I'm mistaken Zero Mostel, Lauren Bacall and several others only did one musical.
You made a major omission!!!! Jim Dale is a Broadway standard! He has done it all -- musicals (Barnum - won a Tony award); dramas (Joe Egg) and comedies (Candide). He even co-adapted one, Scapino!! These are among a FEW of his credits. And the man has been around a long time making a living in a profession where few succeed. Now I know you will correct this error!
From Robin Kyin (email@example.com):
Mr. Filichia has obviously done a great deal of research and pondering to come up with the list that he did. To discriminate the 100 *greatest* artists, he clearly was forced to use the strictest of measurements. What annoyed me when reading some of the responses was people who lamented over such new and as-of-now, clearly unworthy names. As much as I love Lea Salonga, Linda Eder, Judy Kuhn and Rent, I don't think they deserve to be on a list of "Greatest." Mr. Filichia had to scan through over *half a century* of names and to expect such recent names on a list like this is ridiculous.
I think Howard McGillin should have made the list for his classic leading man style and fine singing voice.
From Shaffner Publications:
Bebe Neuwirth?!?!? Where is Bebe Neuwirth?!?!? Lilith Shmilith! She'll always be Lola and Velma Kelly! Other than this shocking omission, I agree with your list whole-heartedly! Thanks!
Okay...where are the following people:
VICTORIA CLARK--first and foremost her! She's the best Smitty ever in How to Succeed (revival cast) and she's incredible as Alice Beane in Titanic! Okay, so she's not well known around these parts, but she is incredible!
MARCIA MITZMAN GAVEN--she was the best Mrs. Walker on Broadway and is revolutionizing L.A. theatre as Mother in Ragtime. Where is this woman?!
JUDY KUHN--Come on!
MICHAEL CERVERIS -This man is one of the most brilliant theatre actors I've ever seen!
DOUGLAS SILLS--definitely the best newcomer!
LAURIE BEECHMAN- whatever everyone else said only ten times more!
From Ella Starr:
You should definitely have put Victor Garber on that list. Ever since Godspell he's been the best, from Anthony in Sweeney Todd to John Wilkes Booth in Assassins. He's the best, no question. (Don't listen to all those Michael Crawford fans. Really, aside from Phantom, who's heard of the guy?)
From J. Andrew Jones (firstname.lastname@example.org):
Good list.......BUT!!! You left off JUDY KUHN, THE QUEEN OF AMERICAN MUSICAL THEATRE. She has the voice of an angel - nothing short of perfection.
Also, Bebe Neuwirth. Bebe rocks...enough said!!!!!
Your biggest miss is Judy Kuhn, not only a great actress but what a voice!!! She has gone through flops(Metropolis, and Rags) but she has been part of legends(Les Mis, Chess, and Sunset). Others noteworthy lately are Judy Blazer, Marin Mazzie and Audra McDonald. All who are currently working in shows at epic status that continue to sell out.
Additionally, Betty Buckley deserves a higher spot than Bernadette Peters whose only work lately has been the Into the Woods reunion concert(she even cracked on numerous occasions). Betty is still going strong! Please reevaluate your list find a spot for Judy Kuhn, she deserves it!
No Victor Garber?????? I think he is an AMAZING ACTOR... the original Anthony in Sweeney Todd, John Wilkes Booth in the workshop of Assassins, and also revived and did a much better job doing it that some stupid moron (HEY LAAAADIESSS!!!), the role of Applegate in Damn Yankee's!!! I definitely think Garber should be up there.. and I also agree with including Len Cariou and George Hearn.
From David Alan:
I think a serious omission from the list of 100 was Charles Nelson Reilly. He made a strong impression in any musical he was in.
From Eddie Molloy:
You skipped Charlotte d'Amboise. Actually, you missed her whole family, all talented singers and dancers. She's only had rather small parts on Broadway but she always manages to outshine the others. Don't miss her in Chicago's traveling cast as Roxy!