Broadway Replacements: Your Favorite?

Categories: Theater

Criss_RT.jpg

Darren Criss is attracting screaming Gleeks to How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, and they're filling the seats once occupied by screaming Potterphiles.

Which brings to mind the topic of Broadway replacements and how they fare in light of all the hoopla generated by the original stars.

Sometimes they reek of second-rate desperation and can't hold a candle to the glory that preceded them.

But then there are the worthy ones who don't scream "bottom drawer." In fact, some of them could have christened the show.

For example ...

Fantasia was astounding in The Color Purple, bringing heart, soul, and oomph to the show -- at least on those occasions when she showed up.

I like Brenda Braxton, a sleek and talented singer/dancer, whenever I see her go on as Velma in Chicago.

Usher was OK as Billy Flynn in the same revival, though it seemed like he was dying to cut loose more.

Joey Fatone hardly disgraced himself when I saw him in Rent -- in fact, he was 'N Sync with the tone of the show.

Jerry Lewis amused me when he stepped into a so-so revival of Damn Yankees in the '90s and gave it some pizzazz.

Liza Minnelli made headlines for messy behavior when she replaced Julie Andrews in Victor/Victoria, but I was just happy to see Liza!

Years before that, Liza subbed for Gwen Verdon in the original Chicago and was a dazzling Roxy I'll never forget. (Yes, this actually happened and I really saw it. Fabulous!)

And Judith Light was superb when I saw her as a replacement in Wit years ago (Off-Broadway).

And through the years, replacements like Raquel Welch, Melanie Griffith, Brooke Shields, and Jordin Sparks have breathed fresh energy into shows that needed the PR boost.

Ever see a replacement player and not want your original $75 back?



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29 comments
brdgeubrn55
brdgeubrn55

Reba in "Annie Get Your Gun". The best replacement EVER! Reba is Annie Oakley in every way.

Don Zorn
Don Zorn

RE: "Fantasia...at least on those occasions when she showed up" ...Why the sarcasm? You don't give somebody a break who has misdiagnosed, airway-blocking bleeding tumors on their vocal cords? She wasn't just sleeping in or chillin'. And besides, the number of shows Fantasia missed was GREATLY, EXTREMELY exaggerated in the media.

Movielover
Movielover

The guy in this picture is both really cute (!) and goofy.  I can't understand those eyebrows.

mjm
mjm

-Betty Hutton as Miss Hannigan in Annie-Judy Holliday in Born Yesterday -Pearl Bailey, Betty Grable, and Ethel Merman in Hello Dolly-Lilias White as Effie in Dreamgirls-Bernadette Peters and Elaine Stritch in the revival of A Little Night Music-Liza as Roxie Hart in Chicago -Joel Grey in Stop the World I Want to Get Off-Betty Garrett and Hal Linden in Bells Are Ringing-Ann Miller in Mame-Diahann Carroll in Agnes of God

Guest
Guest

Vanessa Williams Replacing Chita Rivera in Kiss of the Spiderwoman. And Tamyra Gray as a replacement Mimi in Rent. As of late, Harvey Fierstein in La Gage and Bernadette Peters and Elaine Stritch in A Little Night Music.

Phx3rings
Phx3rings

Liza was amazing!  I remember sitting across the aisle from Liberace the night I saw the show.

Ron Bruguiere
Ron Bruguiere

Micheal, you must've sat on your mother's knee when you saw Liza in CHICAGO, that was YEARS ago!

David Perkins
David Perkins

You forgot one of the best replacements ever Reba McEntire for Bernadette Peters in Annie Get Your Gun.  Frank Rich gave her a much better review than Bernandette even though Bernandette got a Tony for it

Wings
Wings

And Susan Lucci.

Guest
Guest

Reba McEntire in Annie Get Your Gun in 2001.

Bway
Bway

And of course Ms. Loudon was later a replacement for Mrs. Lovett in Sweeney Todd and got great response.

Gregorama
Gregorama

Hey, this is a multi-topic reply!  My very first Broadway show, I'll shamelessly admit, was "Annie" in 1978.  I had listened to the soundtrack LP about 4,000 times and flew 1100 miles to NYC to see Andrea McCardle.  And my first Broadway show was also my first experience with that disembodied, "messenger of doom" pre-curtain voice, who announced that night that, "...the role of Annie will be performed by Sarah Jessica Parker".  I was pretty crushed, but I've got to say, I thought she did a great job, and by the end of the show, I wasn't disappointed at all to have missed Andrea.  Not to mention Dorothy Loudon, who was GOD. I left the theatre a fully-anointed Broadway musical queen.

Musto
Musto

I just added Fantasia Barrino (Color Purple) to the blog post. She was truly stunning.

Whimps
Whimps

CMG, I respect your opinion, but just asking:

Wasn't Brad Oscar basically just doing an imitation of Nathan Lane? I think he admitted to borrowing a lot.

Timmee
Timmee

Patti LuPone replacing Zoe Caldwell in Master Class. It takes a diva to play a diva!

Fingers
Fingers

I like Steven webber (in the Matthew Broderick part) in Producers.

MartinNYID
MartinNYID

Billie Joe Armstrong was great in American Idiot, for obvious reasons, but still.

CMG
CMG

Brad Oscar and Roger Bart in The Producers.  Much more Mostel and Wilder than Lane or Broderick.  

Everybody I know who saw it said Estelle Parsons in August: Osage County. 

Margaux
Margaux

Brooke Shields was good in Chicago but not so hot in Addams Family.

Bway
Bway

And Maria Chita Alonso!

latenitebump
latenitebump

chita rivera/vanessa l williams kiss of the spiderwoman.

Musto
Musto

I was but a slip of a child.

brdgeubrn55
brdgeubrn55

@David Perkins I saw her.............she was AMAZING!!!! Definitely put the "other Annie's" to shame! Broadway Gold right there!

Musto
Musto

I didn't forget it. I put my own personal favorites. I didn't see Reba, tragically enough.

Movielover
Movielover

Seems like a natural for Annie Get Your.  I even like reruns of her sitcom, but that accent really grates.  Could it be real?

Movielover
Movielover

Seems like a natural for Annie Get Your.  I even like reruns of her sitcom, but that accent really grates.  Could it be real?

Phx3Rings
Phx3Rings

Let's not forget her replacement Sweeney, George Hearn, who basically made the role his own.Angie and Len were great, George and Dorothy. I saw both casts. Loved them, love the show. Actually, I have to say this thread is a little depressing.  It makes me realize how many of these beautiful performances I saw...and how long ago some of them were!

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