From Barbra to Bernadette: Top Ten Signature Songs from Broadway

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17 May 2014

Playbill.com correspondent Ben Rimalower offers a collection of the top ten signature musical theatre songs.



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Since the days of the Ziegfeld Follies, when audiences clamored for star performers to reprise familiar favorites from their repertoires, a signature song has been a hot commodity for any singer on Broadway. Of course, Broadway musicals today are structured with more integrity than yesteryear's revues, and not even a jukebox musical would be produced to include the talent's work from unrelated sources. Still, in a Broadway performer's career away from the Great White Way, in cabarets, concerts and especially Broadway tribute events, a signature song closely associated with its Broadway debut is of great value to whoever can claim it as their own.

Oftentimes, there may even be more than one performer with their flag planted atop a particular number. Right now, I only want to explore the originals. Who put their indelible stamp on a song the first time it was heard on Broadway and why? And have they held on to the song? It's one thing to triumph, but a signature song is to be celebrated, not ignored and left for other singers to to seize upon. I've limited the search to performances of the last 50 years, reasoning that I should have had the opportunity to see the song recreated out of context by its originator.

Click through to read my selections for the Top Ten Signatures Songs from Broadway musicals.

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