Top 10 Most Rewatchable Female Broadway Belts
VOICE OVER: Emily Brayton
WRITTEN BY: Sammie Purcell
These female Broadway belts reserve a rewatch. For this list, we'll be looking at the most outstanding female belters who we can't get enough of watching. Our countdown includes "On My Own," "I'm Here," "Defying Gravity," and more!
Top 10 Rewatchable Female Broadway Belts
Welcome to MsMojo, where today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Rewatchable Female Broadway Belts.
For this list, we’ll be looking at the most outstanding female belters who we can’t get enough of watching. Male performers deserve their own list, so we’ll be focusing exclusively on the ladies for this one.
Which of these stars impresses you the most? Let us know in the comments below!
#10: “Memory,” Betty Buckley
Now that cat can belt! Betty Buckley has been around for decades, taking the stage by storm since 1969. But when it comes to “Memory?” No one does it quite like Buckley. She starred as Grizabella in the 1982 Broadway production of “Cats,” winning a Tony award for her efforts. And it’s easy to see why. Her performance of the song is exceptional – she starts off almost meek. But when she makes it to the “touch me” line, she explodes up off the ground, belting the emotional and heartfelt lyrics with power and ease.
#9: “Gimme Gimme,” Sutton Foster
“Thoroughly Modern Millie”
If there’s one thing Sutton Foster can do, it’s sing her face off. She’s proven she has what it takes a million times over, and absolutely slays that final note in her rendition of “Anything Goes”. But for this entry, we’re taking it back to the beginning. “Thoroughly Modern Millie” was a star-making performance for Foster, earning her a Tony and allowing her the chance to show off her chops. In “Gimme Gimme,” the show’s big “I want” number, she belts out the final jubilant chorus with so much triumph, it’s hard not to immediately jump to your feet.
#8: “Satisfied,” Renée Elise Goldsberry
“Hamilton” is mostly known for its hip-hop style and amazingly fast raps, but it’s a pretty strong show for belters as well – especially if you’re a Schuyler sister. Phillipa Soo wrangles the anger in “Burn” with gusto and Jasmine Cephas Jones makes belting sexy again in “Say No to This.” But Renée Elise Goldsberry’s final moments in “Satisfied” are too powerful to be ignored. Having spent the entire song switching between singing and rapping, it’s hard to believe anyone could have enough air leftover for what Goldsberry pulls off at the end. But of course, she makes it look effortless, riffing and belting with the best of them.
#7: “On My Own,” Lea Salonga
Before she was a Disney princess, she was a Broadway baby. Lea Salonga was just a teen when she started playing Kim in the London production of “Miss Saigon.” And she carries so much emotional heft on songs like “I’d Give My Life for You.” But for this entry, we’re going with the song that Salonga has said “changed [her] life.” When she went out for “Miss Saigon,” she sang “On My Own” from “Les Misérables.” Just a few years later, she found herself singing it on a Broadway stage as she brought Éponine to life. To this day, it’s still pretty astounding to hear so much power and control coming out of such a petite person.
#6: “Legally Blonde Remix,” Kate Shindle
There’s no other way to say it – “Legally Blonde” is a belter’s dream – especially if you’re playing the role of Elle Woods. In the original Broadway production, Laura Bell Bundy is astounding in the lead role, shooting for the stars on numbers like “So Much Better. But for this list, we went with a different show-stopper. Towards the end of the play, Vivienne – played by Kate Shindle – tries to convince Elle that she needs to come back to the trial. She breaks out into a rousing rendition of “Legally Blonde Remix,” leaving no belt unturned. What makes it so great is how unexpected it is from the character – particularly that face-melting note at the end!
#5: “I’m Here,” Cynthia Erivo
“The Color Purple”
In the modern musical world, there’s almost no one who’s doing it like Cynthia Erivo. These days, it feels like Erivo’s been a household name forever, starring in movies and television shows in addition to being a Broadway star. But back in 2015, she didn’t have near the cachet that she does now – making it all the more impressive when she blew us away as Celie in “The Color Purple.” The star is an incredible Celie, and her voice is lovely throughout the entire show. But something about “I’m Here” makes the hair on the back of our necks stand up. There’s so much freedom in Erivo’s performance, and when she hits that final note, she leaves it all on the table.
#4: “A New Argentina,” Patti LuPone
We probably don’t have to tell you that Patti LuPone is a world-class belter. She’s been a household name and a powerhouse for so long, it’s difficult to pick a favorite example. But watching her as Eva Perón in “Evita” makes it difficult to pick anything other than “A New Argentina.” The song serves as the Act I closer and has a lot of moving parts, but LuPone has a standout moment towards the end. While trying to convince the people of her husband’s support for workers’ rights, she wails some truly poignant lyrics. Her control and strength as she does so are simply unmatched.
#3: “Defying Gravity,” Idina Menzel
If you were around to see “Wicked” on Broadway when Idina Menzel was starring as Elphaba, you got to witness something very special – and something very belty. Elphaba has some of the most memorable belts of all time, including a few that are heart-wrenchingly sad in “No Good Deed.” But we just couldn’t go with anything else but “Defying Gravity.” The subject of many a budding theater kid’s hairbrush routine in their bedroom, it’s become such an iconic belting number that people make compilations just to hear the different runs that each Elphaba puts on the song. But nothing will ever beat the original and Menzel’s pure, magnificent vocals.
#2: “Don’t Rain on My Parade,” Barbra Streisand
No one can do it like Fanny Brice – except Streisand, that is. In the 1960s, Barbra Streisand had already solidified herself as a recording star and had starred in the original Broadway production of “Funny Girl.” But the world didn’t get to see how truly phenomenal her Fanny Brice was until the latter’s film adaptation hit theaters in 1968. Streisand is a certified star throughout the film, but she somehow kicks it up a notch during “Don’t Rain on My Parade.” There’s so much joy and looseness to her voice, filling those high, belty moments that punctuate the song full of unadulterated glee.
Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions.
“Pharaoh’s Story,” Laurie Beechman, “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat”
We’d Let Beechman Tell Our Story Any Day
“She Used to Be Mine,” Jessie Mueller, “Waitress”
She is Messy, She Is Kind, She Can Belt
“You Don’t Know This Man,” Carolee Carmello, “Parade”
We Do Know That Carmello’s Vocals Are Amazing
“Not a Day Goes By,” Bernadette Peters, “Merrily We Roll Along”
Not a Day Goes by That We Don’t Think About This Rendition
“Wait for Me (Reprise),” Eva Noblezada, “Hadestown”
We Can’t Wait to Watch This Again
#1: “And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going,” Jennifer Holliday
Listen, we’re not exaggerating when we say that nothing quite compares to this one. Many have tried – and many have come close – but nobody has quite managed to capture the raw emotion and potency of Jennifer Holliday’s performance of “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going” from “Dreamgirls.” At this point, there’s almost a mythic quality to it, and for good reason. Seeing it in person back in the day would have surely been a life-changing experience. But even watching her belt and run and riff through a small computer screen, you can still feel the sheer vigor and passion emanating out of her person.