A Stage of Their Own: This Season's Leading Ladies Burn Up Broadway
Since the lights first went up on the Great White Way, there's never been a loss of powerhouse actresses, taking bows, stealing shows, and burning up Broadway eight times a week.
This season features a slew of stars originating roles, and plenty more making an existing one their own -- but regardless of the breadth of their repertoire, these divas prove they're the top when it comes to getting away with murder in 1920s Chicago, or running a derelict orphanage -- all while hitting their marks night after night.
Patina Miller's got magic to do nightly as PIPPIN's Leading Player, while Lindsay Mendez continues to defy gravity as Elphaba in WICKED, and MATILDA's four leading ladies rise up and rebel against the Chokey-dependent Miss Trunchbull while showing that sometimes, you just have to be a little bit naughty. In her Broadway debut, Mary Bridget Davies electrifies The Lyceum Theatre with rock and roll wattage as Janis Joplin, and two streets down, Tony-nominee Jesse Mueller brings the life of legendary songstress Carole King to the Stephen Sondheim Theater.
Below, BWW brings you best and brightest leading ladies currently on Broadway - and be sure to let us know your favorite in this week's poll!
Fantasia Barrino as 'Guest Star'
GRAMMY and American Idol winner, actor and author Fantasia is guest starring in AFTER MIDNIGHT through February in her first Broadway role since portraying 'Celie' in THE COLOR PURPLE. The VIP of the evening, Fantasia works her way through some of the Cotton Club's greatest hits in this Broadway revue.
Faith Prince as 'Miss Hannigan'
Tony winner, TV and film star Faith Prince returns to Broadway as ANNIE's infamous, evil orphanage matron. Since Prince won the Tony, Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle awards for her performance as 'Miss Adelaide' in GUYS AND DOLLS, she has continued to exercise her versatility on the Great White Way.
Kate Baldwin as 'Sandra Bloom'
Tony nominee Kate Baldwin, who is no stranger to magical worlds -- see FINIAN'S RAINBOW -- goes from starring in the Public's GIANT to facing a giant in Broadway's whimsical tale BIG FISH.
You can't talk about CHICAGO as if it only has one star (though you might if you were either of the show's self-centered leading ladies) because Bianca Marroquin and Amra-Faye Wright are a team onstage. Marroquin has played the not-so-innocent 'Roxie' for more than 10 years, and Wright, who starred in CHICAGO in South Africa and the UK before coming to the US, has played the underhanded 'Velma' on Broadway since 2006.
Laura Osnes as 'Cinderella'
RODGERS + HAMMERSTEIN'S CINDERELLA
Tony nominee Laura Osnes made her Broadway debut as leading lady 'Sandy' in GREASE after winning a competition show on NBC. Since then she's stayed in the spotlight as 'Nellie Forbush' in SOUTH PACIFIC and 'Bonnie' in BONNIE & CLYDE. As Cinderella, Osnes brings Rodgers & Hammerstein's classic into the 21st Century.
Krysta Rodriguez as 'Casey'
On SMASH, Krysta Rodriguez was forced to play second fiddle in the fictional musical HIT LIST, but now she's part of the leading couple in Broadway's FIRST DATE. Rodriguez plays the flighty serial-dater 'Casey' and lets her inner-critic fly.
Annaleigh Ashford as 'Lauren'
KINKY BOOTS won Annaleigh Ashford a Tony nomination this year for her portrayal of factory worker 'Lauren' opposite Stark Sands and Billy Porter. But she'll soon depart the role for another 'kinky' project -- as a regular on Showtime's MASTERS OF SEX.
Judy McLane as 'Donna Sheridan'
Judy McLane earned the leading role of independent single mother 'Donna' after playing rich divorcee 'Tanya' in MAMMA MIA! for almost eight years.
Paige Brady, 10, Gabriella Pizzolo, 10, Ripley Sobo, 10, and Ava Ulloa, 9, will be making their Broadway debuts as the supernatural genius 'Matilda Wormwood' in MATILDA this coming January. Among them, the girls have appeared in musicals such as The Music Man, Les Miserables, The Sound of Music and Seussical. Not a bad way to start out!
Kara Lindsay as 'Katherine Plumber'
Kara Lindsay made her Broadway debut in NEWSIES and originated the role of 'Katherine' at Paper Mill Playhouse before the musical ever took to the Great White Way. She's stuck with NEWSIES the way its paperboys stick to their cause.
Joanna Christie as 'Girl'
This April, Joanna Christie stepped in to the only starring role on our list without a name - 'Girl' in ONCE. Following her West End turn opposite Daniel Radcliffe in EQUUS, Christie portrays ONCE's subtle leading lady opposite DOCTOR WHO's Arthur Darvill.
Mary Bridget Davies took the country by storm with her portrayal of Joplin before A NIGHT WITH Janis Joplin landed on Broadway. The clothes, the voice, and the drive -- you name it, Davies has got it.
Mary Michael Patterson as 'Christine Daae'
THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA
Talk about a legacy! Mary Michael Patterson is the 18th actress to play 'Christine' in THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA on Broadway, after she paid her dues as an alternate. But a long line of stars before her gives Patterson a strong foundation to make the part her own.
Patina Miller as 'Leading Player'
Not only is Patina Miller a leading lady, she's also the 'Leading Player' in the current revival of PIPPIN -- a part that earned her this year's Tony for Best Actress in a Musical. Miller proves she's "got magic to do" each night, surrounded by the show's acrobatic cast.
Kate Rockwell as 'Sherrie'
ROCK OF AGES
With her roles in BRING IT ON and LEGALLY BLONDE, Kate Rockwell is known for playing bubbly leads. Rockwell's wide-eyed 'Sherrie' comes to Hollywood to follow her dreams, only to discover life isn't always what you think it will be. But that doesn't mean you should "stop believin'".
Rebecca Faulkenberry as 'Mary Jane Watson'
SPIDER-MAN: TURN OFF THE DARK
From ROCK OF AGES' 'Sherrie' to SPIDER-MAN's fiery love interest 'Mary Jane', star Rebecca Faulkenberry knows how to be sweet and sassy all at once. Just look at that kiss!
Lindsay Mendez as 'Elphaba'
Lindsay Mendez is certainly not making her Broadway debut, but this is one of her first lead roles, and it pretty much "defies gravity". Like playing 'Christine' in PHANTOM, taking on 'Elphaba' in WICKED means you must have a load of belting, bold talent, and Mendez delivers in the musical's tenth year on the Great White Way.