By: megan schafer


Broadway Theatre (commonly known as Broadway), is is widely considered to represent the highest level of commercial theatre in America. New York did not have a significant theatre presence until about 1750, when actor-managers Walter Murray and Thomas Kean established a resident theatre company. A riot broke out in 1849 when the lower-class patrons of the Bowery objected to what they perceived as snobbery by the upper class audiences at Astor Place: "After the Astor Place Riot of 1849, entertainment in New York City was divided along class lines: opera was chiefly for the upper middle and upper classes, minstrel shows and melodramas for the middle class, variety shows in concert saloons for men of the working class and the slumming middle class.

Carol Burnett

When you scan Carol Burnett’s musical-theater career, it kind of makes you mad at TV. She showed off her big voice and even bigger slapstick skills as the gawky, brash Princess Winnifred in Once Upon a Mattress in 1959, then returned for 1964’s Hollywood musical spoof Fade Out – Fade In—and after that, nothing until the 1999 Sondheim collage Putting It Together. Folks justly worship the comedy dynamo for her 1970s sketch series. But we can only dream of what Burnett would have achieved had she stuck it out on the boards.

Kristen Chenoweth

A diminutive blond with a piercing, high belting voice Kristin Chenoweth is the most distinctive musical-theater star in decades. The stylized perfection of her delivery is well matched to cartoonish roles—she won a national following as Wicked’s Glinda, and a Tony for You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown—but she is also an accomplished coloratura soprano, who has amazed concert audiences with Leonard Bernstein’s high aria from Candide.

Ethel Merman

No performer has the spirit of the Great White Way more than the Ethel Merman, the Queens Broadway megaphone. After rocketing to fame in 1930 singing “I Got Rhythm” in the Gershwins" , 1930 Girl Crazy, she stayed in orbit for decades. Merman played lead roles in a whopping 13 original musicals, nearly all of them hits; among the roles she created were Reno Sweeney in Anything Goes, Annie Oakley in Annie Get Your Gun and Rose Hovick in Gypsy. She had a voice that carried, and carried shows. “There’s no business like show business,” she famously sang.

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