Star Quality: Broadway's Best Belting

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19 Apr 2014

Playbill.com correspondent Ben Rimalower offers a collection of the best belting performances by Broadway leading ladies.



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It's always the columns I'm most excited to write that turn out to be the most difficult. Best Broadway Belting — to quote Baby, "What could be better?" I immediately realized I had to narrow this down or I'd wind up imploding Playbill's servers with a hundred million words on Laurie Beechman's performance in Funny Girl at Sacramento Music Circus in 1992. So this is limited to Broadway, and this is limited to leading roles. I realize that's somewhat subjective, or even arbitrary depending on semantics, but for my purposes, it means performances as female characters that had the most solo singing in the show.

My cut off is 1980; apologies to Angela, Barbra and Ethel, et al. Also, some might call some of this singing mixing, not belting — the technique is the singer's business, as long as I get the feeling of being belted at. And I've penalized for quality of material. Heather Headley sang her face off in Aida, but it doesn't make the cut. That said, some great belting elevates weaker material to a higher position on the list. And finally, I've cut the ladies off at one role. No one appears on the list more than that. Otherwise, Patti LuPone would have more performances on this list than she played as Nancy in the fast-flop 1984 revival of Oliver — which would have ranked pretty high on the best belting list. And while we're at it, let's keep it to original cast performances — no revivals, no replacements. Even so, I still couldn't get it down to ten.

Click through to read my choices for Best Broadway Belting performances.

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