30 Days Of The 2014 Tony Awards: Day #24 - Rosie & The Divas
Today we continue the 2014 edition of our annual BroadwayWorld feature series spotlighting the very best Tony Awards-related moments of all time with a special spotlight on 2014 Isabelle Stevenson Award recipient Rosie O'Donnell.
Acknowledged and admitted theatre obsessive - and die-hard devoted Barbra Streisand fan - actress and host Rosie O'Donnell in many ways heralded the era of fan-generated and fan-focused entertainment that is so copiously visible today with her wildly popular TV chat show THE ROSIE O'DONNELL SHOW from 1996 to 2002, while also hosting multiple Tony Awards broadcasts during those years. Nicknamed "The Queen of Nice", O'Donnell shamelessly embraced her love of theatre and showcased countless productions and Great White Way notables over the six years of the show's run - including Streisand herself. Besides mega-wattage stars, O'Donnell also appreciably gave her national stage over to the stalwart stars of Broadway who may have been lesser-known to a nationwide, let alone global audience back in the early days of the internet - and pre-GLEE. Indeed, without Rosie, many twenty-somethings of today may have never gotten that first taste of live theatre and thereby witnessed the power of live performance so expertly and consistently showcased on her show - and all of us are in her debt as a result. If only for that, Rosie's forthcoming special Tony Award to be presented at this year's ceremony has been well-earned. Yet, the media mogul put her money where her mouth is by not only following through on returning to Broadway and Off-Broadway following the cessation of her talk show - even while its ratings were soaring high as ever - as a performer onstage, but also as a producer behind the scenes, on the multi-Tony-nominated TABOO.
When hosting the 1998 Tony Awards, O'Donnell pulled off a diva coup for the ages when she presented not one, but three of the most iconic leading ladies of the last half-century recreating their standout tunes from their most memorable musicals - namely, Jennifer Holliday with "I Am Telling You I'm Not Going" from DREAMGIRLS, Patti LuPone with "Don't Cry For Me Argentina" from EVITA and Betty Buckley with "Memory" from CATS; all kicked off by O'Donnell herself leading a witty parody of "Roxie" from CHICAGO.
Always an iconoclast and ahead of her time, we can't wait to see what Rosie does next and this all-too-deserved Tony Award special honor in the form of the hallowed Isabelle Stevenson Award will hopefully be inspiration to her to return to the place she admittedly loves best - and that loves her back in very much the same way. Today's clip is even further proof of her ability to make magic happen.
So, now, let's revisit the moment we are salivating over and turn back the clock to 1998 to see the divas do what they do best.
What about Rosie O'Donnell's patronage of the arts had the biggest effect on you personally? Furthermore, what is your absolute favorite part of this spectacular Tony Awards diva medley? We can certainly hope this year's Tony Awards show will boast a highlight as endlessly repeat-worthy as this one - and very well could with Rosie herself involved in the proceedings!
From This Author Pat Cerasaro