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Top 10 Legendary Female Broadway Stars

VO: Emily Brayton
Script written by Nick Spake Top 10 Female Broadway Stars Subscribe: They’ve got the singing chops and can woo a crowded theatre. If you love Broadway, then you know the names of these performers are legendary. In this video, we countdown the biggest names in Broadway including, Angela Lansbury, Carol Channing, Barbra Streisand Audra McDonald, Kristin Chenoweth, Chita Rivera, Patti Lupone, Ethel Merman, Liza Minnelli and Julie Andrews. Special thanks to our user roxy for submitting the idea on our Interactive Suggestion Tool at MsMojo's Social Media: Facebook: Twitter: Instagram: Snapchat:

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Top 10 Female Broadway Stars

These stars certainly know how to light up a stage. Welcome to MsMojo and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the Top 10 Female Broadway Stars.

For this list, we’re taking a look at actresses that gained fame on Broadway, bringing down the house with their singing, dancing, and acting gifts.

#10: Angela Lansbury

Angela Lansbury may have gotten her start on the silver screen – like in Oscar-nominated supporting performances in “The Picture of Dorian Gray” and “Gaslight”- however, this character actress eventually became a leading lady on the Broadway stage. She won her first Tony Award for playing the glamorous title character in the hit musical, “Mame.” Lansbury continued to thrive with roles like Rose in “Gypsy” and Mrs. Lovett in “Sweeney Todd.” Throughout her illustrious career, Lansbury has demonstrated great range as a performer. She can be eccentric and over-the-top, but also warm and gentle. Her work in musical theater would additionally benefit her film career, leading to roles in “Bedknobs and Broomsticks” and “Beauty and the Beast.”

#9: Carol Channing

Carol Channing may not have the traditional angelic voice people typically associate with Broadway. That’s part of what makes her a one of a kind talent, though. Landing the role of Lorelei Lee in “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes,” Channing dominated the stage with her unique singing chops, unparalleled comedic timing, and larger than life personality. This would pave the way for her acclaimed performances in “The Vamp” and “Show Girl.” She would also star in over 5000 performances of “Hello, Dolly!,” achieving her first Tony Award in the process. Channing has additionally appeared in a couple movie musicals, including an Oscar-nominated turn in “Thoroughly Modern Millie,” but the theater will always be her home.

#8: Audra McDonald

Be it drama or musical, Audra McDonald can do it all. That’s probably why she’s the only person that’s taken home Tony Awards in all four acting categories. Before turning 30, McDonald had already earned three Tonys for her work in “Carousel,” “Master Class,” and “Ragtime.” She showed no sign of slowing down in the following years, winning three more statuettes for “A Raisin in the Sun,” “Porgy and Bess,” and “Lady Day at Emerson's Bar and Grill.” With six Tonys on her mantel (so far!), she currently holds the record for most performance wins. Possessing a resilient, powerful voice, McDonald has performed in her fair share of concerts and operas too. Even when singing Yahoo! Answers, she’s nothing short of classy.

#7: Kristin Chenoweth

Although Kristin Chenoweth has a respectable career in film and television, she was destined to be on stage. Known for playing perky, wide-eyed characters, this multi-talented actress turns into a ray of sunshine whenever the spotlight hits her. Chenoweth stole the show as Sally in “You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown,” receiving a Tony for her adorable portrayal. She later landed the role of a lifetime as Glinda the Good Witch in a little musical called “Wicked.” A host of gifted actresses have since taken over this role on Broadway, but Chenoweth is still considered the definitive Glinda. The same can be said about her “Wicked” costar, Idina Menzel, who defied gravity as Elphaba.

#6: Patti LuPone

“Evita” is often cited as one of the greatest musicals of all time, but it never would’ve worked without the right leading lady. Fortunately, Patti LuPone captured all of Eva Perón’s passion and charisma when the show originally hit Broadway. While LuPone wasn’t the happiest camper during this production, Evita is widely considered her career-defining role. With that said, LuPone has played plenty of other timeless characters, such as Fantine in “Les Misérables” and Reno Sweeney in “Anything Goes.” In recent years, she’s been praised for her phenomenal work in productions of “Sweeney Todd,” “Gypsy,” and “Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown.” With multiple Grammy and Tony Awards to her name, LuPone still has theater-goers crying for Argentina.

#5: Ethel Merman

This renowned actress originated several iconic roles on Broadway, most notably Reno Sweeney in “Anything Goes,” Annie Oakley in “Annie Get Your Gun,” and Rose Hovick in “Gypsy.” So as you can imagine, most musical theater historians associate Ethel Merman with "I Got Rhythm,” "There's No Business Like Show Business,” and other classic show tunes. Merman would reprise a few of her roles in movie musicals, but she never left the stage behind. Although she had no formal singing training, Merman flawlessly belted out songs with a commanding voice and perfect pitch. Her all-encompassing presence set the standard for Broadway starlets, which is why Merman has been described as the undisputed First Lady of the American musical comedy stage.

#4: Liza Minnelli

The bar was set pretty high for Liza Minnelli, seeing how her mother was the invaluable Judy Garland. Minnelli was born to be a star, however. Minnelli was the youngest performer to win the Tony for Best Actress in a Musical following her Broadway debut in “Flora the Red Menace,” and she would take home three more Tony Awards for her “Live at the Winter Garden” 3-week concert run, “The Act,” and her show “Liza's at The Palace...” In addition to her show-stopping stage work, Minnelli’s musical gifts have earned her an Oscar, Emmy, and Grammy. While Liza is sensational in any medium, there’s nothing quite like seeing her live on Broadway. Overflowing with charm and pizazz, she truly makes life feel like a cabaret.

#3: Julie Andrews

Long before she was Hollywood royalty, Julie Andrews blessed Broadway with the sound of music. This English actress first appeared on the American stage at age 19, stealing the show in “The Boy Friend.” Andrews would become one of Broadway’s biggest names with her performances as Guenevere in “Camelot” and especially Eliza Doolittle in “My Fair Lady,” but lost out on the role to Audrey Hepburn when the play was translated to film due to a then-lack of name recognition in the medium. Nevertheless, things soon worked out pretty well for Andrews, who delivered an Oscar-winning performance as Mary Poppins that same year. Andrews returned to Broadway in the 1995 stage version of “Victor/Victoria,” enchanting audiences with her elegant voice once more.

#2: Barbra Streisand

Even though Barbra Streisand has only starred in two Broadway productions, no one can deny the impact she’s had on musical theater. Like Julie Andrews, Streisand made her Broadway debut at the age of 19, starring in “I Can Get It for You Wholesale.” Following that Tony-nominated performance, she became an acting legend in the making with her immortal portrayal of comedian Fanny Brice in “Funny Girl.” Streisand lived and breathed this character, blowing audiences away with her stunning voice, sharp wit, and lively stage presence. Babs didn’t win the Tony for playing Fanny, instead losing out to Carol Channing, but would take home a Best Actress Oscar when she reprised her role on the big screen. Hello, gorgeous!

Before we get to our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions:

Mary Martin

Elaine Stritch

Bernadette Peters

Sutton Foster

Lea Salonga

#1: Chita Rivera

This Latino American performer got her big break when she escorted a friend to an audition for the chorus in “Call Me Madam.” In an ironic turn of events, Chita Rivera was cast as a dancer. On the heels of that cross-country tour, she appeared in Broadway productions of “Guys and Dolls” and “Can-Can.” Rivera reached another level of fame when she landed the role of Anita in “West Side Story.” From there, she starred as Velma Kelly in “Chicago” and Rosie in “Bye Bye Birdie.” It was only after about three decades of singing and dancing her way into the hearts of millions that Rivera achieved her first Tony for her rousing performance in “The Rink,” but it was an overdue win for one of Broadway’s finest.

Do you agree with our list? Who’s your favorite female Broadway star? For more entertaining Top 10s published every day, be sure to subscribe to MsMojo

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