Since the beginning of Broadway, people of both sexes have relocated to New York with the sole intention of seeing their name in lights. Some of them make it and some of them don’t.
This is a list we compiled of some of our favorite Broadway singers to ever grace a well-known musical with their presence.
PS: this month of March is Women’s History Month! Join us as we honor women’s accomplishments in the performing arts with 3 select shows to stream – and for only $1 each! Learn more here.
1. Julie Andrews
There is no denying that this singer has built a solid career within the genre of musicals, be them on stage or the screen. As for Broadway, Andrews has sung on the famous street in four productions.
Starting with The Boy Friend in 1954 she went on to play Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady two years later. In 1960 Andrews played Guinevere in Camelot while her last Broadway appearance was in 1995 as Victoria Grant in Victor/Victoria.
Born as Julie Elizabeth Wells in October of 1935 in England, Andrews. Her parents divorced and at first she lived with her father. But he eventually sent Julie off to live with her mother and new stepfather, Ted Andrews, because there Julie, who was already showing promise, would be able to get better training in the arts with her mother. Still, her family was financially destitute.
As a child Andrews studied under Madame Lilian Stiles-Allen who has said that the “range, accuracy, and tone” of her young voice amazed her. In the mid-forties would perform with her parents on stage. Her professional debut occurred when her step-father introduced her to Val Parnell, whose company own several theaters in London.
Julie Andrews first appeared at the London Hippodrome performing arias and established a rather impressive portfolio of work in the UK by the time she was nineteen. She made her debut on Broadway in 1954 playing Polly Browne in The Boy Friend, which was a raging success on London’s West End.
Of course, Andrews would reach her biggest heights in fame when she began making movies. Her portrayal of Mary Poppins in 1964 won Andrews an Oscar for Best Actress and a Golden Globe in the same category. The next year she would star in The Sound of Music, which turned out to be the most successful movie in 20th Century Fox history. The role won her a second Golden Globe.
Andrews would go on to perform in many more memorable film roles although she suffered permanent damage to her voice in the late nineties. Her biggest hit post-surgery was in 2001 in The Princess Diaries.
2. Idina Menzel
In 1971 this “Let it Go” star was born in New York. At the age of fifteen she began to perform at weddings and bar mitzvahs. She did this while studying at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. Menzel earned a B.F.A. in Drama while there.
She was selected to perform in Rent, in 1995, which was instant success. Menzel was nominated for Best Actress in a Musical Tony Award but did not win that year. She left the show in 1997.
From there Menzel went on to record an album, Still I Can’t Be Still, and played in Summer of ’42 as the first in the role of Dorothy. This show debuted at the Goodspeed Opera House in Connecticut. Menzel would soon make her way back to Broadway in Aida as Amneris, In The Wild Party at the Manhattan Theatre Club in 2000, Menzel won a Drama Desk Award for her performance.
Menzel would return to Broadway opposite Kristin Chenoweth in the smash hit Wicked. It was for this part that she would win a Tony for Best Actress in a Musical. She would stay with the show for two years. At her second to last performance Menzel was injured and couldn’t go on to sing at her final performance. She did appear for the show and sang one song, for which the audience stood and applauded her for five minutes.
While performing on Broadway and off Menzel also worked in movies and sang at concerts like the 1998 Lilith Fair. She has appeared on film in Kissing Jessica Stein, Ask the Dust, Enchanted, and a film version of Rent.
As the speaking and singing voice of Elsa in the animated musical Frozen in 2013, which delighted little girls and boys all over the world. The main song, “Let it Go” turned into a major hit for the American singer.
3. Maureen McGovern
Youngstown, Ohio hails as the birthplace of our next female who has performed on Broadway. Born in 1949 it is said that McGovern began at the age of three singing loving to imitate the songs she heard on the radio. Five years later she announced to her family that she wanted to be a professional singer.
Of course, she had to finish high school, which she did in 1967. She spent some time working as a secretary and fronting a folk group titled Sweet Rain. The head of 20th Century Records was impressed with her demo and hired McGovern, whom he had never seen, to record “The Morning After” from The Poseidon Adventure.
It was released as a record and McGovern signed a contract with 20th Century Records. “The Morning After” won an Oscar for Best Original Song and reached number one on the recording charts in 1973. The next year McGovern would sing the themes to The Towering Inferno and Gold.
For a time, due to financial troubles, McGovern dropped out of performing and went back to being a secretary She was under financial strains from the large percentage of profits her manager took when McGovern was successful plus paying her band a full time salary. She was pulled back and recorded a few more movie themes but they brought her minimal success.
This is when she would move on to Broadway, in 1981 McGovern would debut in The Pirates of Penzance replacing Linda Ronstadt in the role of Mabel. From there she would go on to the Pittsburgh Civic Light Opera for two roles, as Maria in The Sound of Music later that same year and as Nellie in South Pacific in 1982.
Her most recognizable role is in the movie Airplane! as the guitar playing nun who inadvertently dislodges a sick girls intravenous tube. McGovern continues to perform in musical theater, giving concerts, and recording songs. Some of her recordings include Baby I’m Yours (1992), Out of This World (1996), The Music Never Ends (1997), and The Pleasure of His Company (1998).
4. Bianca Marroquín
Born in 1976 in Monterrey, Marroquín is the first actress from Mexico to play a lead character on Broadway. Growing up in a border town, she studied various forms of dance at Bellas Artes Academy.
Marroquín began her performing career in Mexico City as a part of Beauty and the Beast. She stayed in Mexico City and reprised roles from popular musicals that appeared on Broadway including Rent and Phantom of the Opera.
Her performance of Chicago in Mexico City earned her a call to perform for her first time on Broadway as Roxie Hart alongside George Hamilton. Once she finished this musical production Marroquín became a part of the Mexican cast of The Vagina Monologues.
Off-Broadway productions that she was a part of are And the World Goes ‘Round (2007) and Bye Bye Birdie (2008) at the North Shore Music Theatre. Back in Mexico she played the lead role of Maria in a version of The Sound of Music produced there, which would reach one hundred performances.
After that she joined the United States national tour of Chicago. Then Marroquin returned to Broadway in 2010 to take on the role of Daniela in the musical In the Heights. That same year she became a judge for the Hispanic version of Dancing with the Stars.
In 2011 Marroquín joined the cast of a popular Colombian television show, Pequeños Gigantes. The next year she played Mary Poppins in Mexico City on November 14th. This would be the first time the Disney musical would be produced in Spanish.
This Broadway savvy female is still an active singer today. She sits as a judge on the reality competition Univision show Bailando por un Sueño. Releasing El Mundo Era Mio on May 13, 2014, Marroquin co-wrote several of the tunes on the album, which was her first solo recording.
5. Lea Michele
Best known for her role on the television show Glee, this Broadway femme has many other achievements for which to be proud. Born on August 29, 1986, in the Bronx, New York, Michele’s success came as a child.
She accompanied a friend to an audition for Les Misérables and took a chance. She landed the role and Michele would perform on Broadway at a younger age than any of the other women on this list. The repertoire she built before high school also include Ragtime and Fiddler on the Roof.
When she reached secondary education Michele focused on her education and put Broadway on the back burner although she did sing with the choir. She worked at her father’s deli until it shut down. She then took part-time work at a dress shop.
During the summers Michele would attend Stagedoor Manor, a camp for the performing arts training. While there she toured with their production of Our Time Cabaret, Side by Side by Side by Sondheim, and The Who’s Tommy.
From there Michele played Wendla Bergmann in Spring Awakening. She would originate the same role on Broadway at the age of twenty in 2006. This performance got her nominated for a Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Actress in a Musical.
In 2008 she left Spring Awakening and performed in a new musical Nero at Vassar College, she played Éponine in a concert of Les Misérables songs at the Hollywood Bowl, and sang at Upright Cabaret.
Michele’s role as Rachel Berry in Glee was written with her in mind. She would go on to become a household name due to her progression through this role. The amount of awards she has won for her interpretation of Rachel Berry including the 2009 Satellite Award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Musical or Comedy Television Series and the 2012 People’s Choice Awards in the Favorite TV Comedy Actress category.