Star Quality: Broadway's Best Belting

By Ben Rimalower
19 Apr 2014



Patti LuPone
Photo by Ethan Hill

1. Patti LuPone, Evita

It's been almost 35 years since Patti opened in Evita on Broadway, but she still takes the cake for the best Broadway belting. It's not because she belted the highest, although few have equaled her impressive high Es and Fs and Gs ("He supports you, for he loves you, understands you, is one of you!"). It's not because she belted the loudest, although Patti's power is pretty unbeatable in the decibel department ("Screw the middle classes!"). It's not because she did the most dramatic keychanges or crescendos, or because of the range and versatility of her singing — one critic wrote that she "belts like Merman and purrs like Piaf." It's a combination of all those things and the great style with which she synthesized them as she ripped through that punishing score like a hurricane unleashed. The magic ingredient to Patti is that she's a trained actor, a gifted actor with a larger-than-life presence; and her god-given vocal talents have only ever been an instrument for that voracious expression. I've cherished Patti's triumphs in a number of revivals, but I hope against all hope that we'll once again get to see her set the gold standard starring in a new musical on Broadway.

(Ben Rimalower is the author and original star of the critically acclaimed Patti Issues. Read Playbill.com's coverage of the solo show here. Visit him at benrimalower.com and follow @benrimalower on Twitter.)