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The Greatest Musical Theatre Voices Ever?- Page 4

Upstate Cate
Swing
joined:2/10/21
Swing | Joined: 2/10/21

mikewood said: "richard kiel Don Quixote

Betty Buckley
"

OMG I was just about to skip down to type exactly those two, Richard Kiley and Betty Buckley when I saw you got there first!  Coincidence?  I think not.  They are legends yes

A Singer Obsessed
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OlBlueEyes
Broadway Legend
joined:5/31/10
Broadway Legend | Joined: 5/31/10

To go back in time a bit, two performers popular in their time, the multi-faceted Paul Robeson and the slight Helen Morgan, both came together in Show Boat.

Robeson in the 20s was mainly known as a concert performer. It is said that the role of Joe was written with him in mind. Although he missed the premiere in New York, he played the role in the London opening and was associated with it thereafter through the 1937 film.

Morgan is often referred to as the Judy Garland of her time. She sang torch songs and drank herself to an early death. But she originated the role of Julie on Broadway and therefore debuted the song “Bill.” She also played Julie in the 1937 film and received acclaim that gave a boost to her career, but her liver did her in in 1941.

OlBlueEyes Profile Photo
OlBlueEyes
Broadway Legend
joined:5/31/10
Broadway Legend | Joined: 5/31/10

To go back in time a bit, two performers popular in their time, the multi-faceted Paul Robeson and the slight Helen Morgan, both came together in Show Boat.

Robeson in the 20s was mainly known as a concert performer. It is said that the role of Joe was written with him in mind. Although he missed the premiere in New York, he played the role in the London opening and was associated with it thereafter through the 1937 film.

Morgan is often referred to as the Judy Garland of her time. She sang torch songs and drank herself to an early death. But she originated the role of Julie on Broadway and therefore debuted the song “Bill.” She also played Julie in the 1937 film and received acclaim that gave a boost to her career, but her liver did her in in 1941.

OlBlueEyes Profile Photo
OlBlueEyes
Broadway Legend
joined:5/31/10
Broadway Legend | Joined: 5/31/10

To go back in time a bit, two performers popular in their time, the multi-faceted Paul Robeson and the slight Helen Morgan, both came together in Show Boat.

Robeson in the 20s was mainly known as a concert performer. It is said that the role of Joe was written with him in mind. Although he missed the premiere in New York, he played the role in the London opening and was associated with it thereafter through the 1937 film.

Morgan is often referred to as the Judy Garland of her time. She sang torch songs and drank herself to an early death. But she originated the role of Julie on Broadway and therefore debuted the song “Bill.” She also played Julie in the 1937 film and received acclaim that gave a boost to her career, but her liver did her in in 1941.

Alex Kulak2
Broadway Legend
joined:9/11/16
Broadway Legend | Joined: 9/11/16

Best Female voice is a tie between Audra McDonald and Marin Mazzie

Best Male voice is a tie between Mandy Patinkin and Steven Pasquale.

Theatrefanboy1
Broadway Star
joined:8/2/15
Broadway Star | Joined: 8/2/15
In terms of healthy voice production and sound. Undoubtedly Julie Andrews no question. And though I don’t care for him Brian Stokes Mitchell has a great instrument.

Honorable mentions:
Ethel Merman
Barbara Cook
Bernadette Peters
Emily Skinner
Carolee Carmello
Victoria Clark
Donna Murphy

George Hearn
Mandy Patinkin
Norm Lewis
Raul Esparza
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justoldbill
Broadway Star
joined:10/17/07
Broadway Star | Joined: 10/17/07

Perhaps not so much in terms of pitch, vocal technique, et al, but oh! what a theatre voice- LOTTE LENYA!

Well-well-well-what-do-you-think-of-that-I-have-nothing-here-to-pay-my-train-fare-with-only-large-bills-fives-and-sevens....
another sloe eyed vamp Profile Photo
another sloe eyed vamp
Stand-by
joined:8/18/04
Stand-by | Joined: 8/18/04

It's hard to believe that no one has mentioned Brian d'Arcy James.

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dianamorales
Featured Actor
joined:8/9/15
Featured Actor | Joined: 8/9/15

I can't possibly come up with a full list, but I know Gavin Creel is on it. like buttah.

ronya
Swing
joined:2/19/21
Swing | Joined: 2/19/21

luvtheEmcee said: "Raúl is a rare talent and I love him, but I don't think I'd be so pretentious as to put him on a list of the greatest vocalists ever.

Oh that note, IDINA MENZEL!!!!!!!! re: The Greatest Musical Theatre Voices Ever?

In all seriousness, Julie Andrews. God, I wish she could still sing that way.

ETA - B_B_S, it's Heather Headley.


omegal cpstest
"

Yes, As like you, I am also supporting

Love and support from great Serbia.

 

Soaring29 Profile Photo
Soaring29
Broadway Star
joined:12/14/14
Broadway Star | Joined: 12/14/14

Ethel Merman, Julie Andrews, Barbara Cook, Gordon Rait, Angela Lansbury, Audra McDonald, Kristin Chenoweth, Kelli O'Hara.

SingOutLouise3
Swing
joined:12/7/19
Swing | Joined: 12/7/19
There are so many great musical theater voices out there... I know as soon as I hit send I will think of others that I would want to include:

Cynthia Erivo, Kelli O’Hara, Audra McDonald, Sutton Foster, Patti LuPone, Laura Benanti, Lindsay Mendez, Jessie Mueller, Stephanie J. Block, Patina Miller, Shoshana Bean, Heather Headley, Lea Salonga, Liz Callaway, Megan Hilty, Marin Mazzie, Carolee Carmelo, Beth Leavel, Christine Ebersole, Kate Baldwin, Phillipa Soo, Renee Elise Goldsberry, Judy Kuhn, Betty Buckley, Carmen Cusack, Denee Benton, Rachel Bay Jones, Elaine Page,

Joshua Henry, Raul Esparza, Steven Pasquale, Gavin Creel, Colm Wilkinson, Mandy Patinkin, Ramin Karimloo,
Jarethan
Broadway Legend
joined:2/10/11
Broadway Legend | Joined: 2/10/11

I never liked Merman’s voice. Strong but harsh for me.

No order to the following:

Men: Richard Kiley, John Cullum, Mandy Patinkin, Colm Wilkinson, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Jack Cassidy, Nathan Lane

Women: Julie Andrews, Liza Minnelli, Donna Murphy, Audra MacDonald, Bernadette Peters, Barbara Cook, Angela Lansbury

Lupone is in a category of her own to me...strong voice, slurry lyrics, incredible charisma

I loved Boyd Gaines’ voice in She Loves Me and Company...not quite on the above list though

I think Corey Cott has a gorgeous voice and think he is great on the Bandstand and Gigi cast recordings. I just wish he would pronounce his t’s like t’s, not D’s

Leslie Uggams was in great voice in Hallelujah Baby...just not enough material to make the above list.

Then of course there are Richard Burton and Rex Harrison. If I added one talk-singer to the list, it would be Burton.

Updated On: 2/22/21 at 03:28 PM
spicemonkey
Understudy
joined:6/3/18
Understudy | Joined: 6/3/18
Audra McDonald
Howard McGillin
Marin Mazzie
Michael Ball




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qolbinau
Broadway Legend
joined:6/29/08
Broadway Legend | Joined: 6/29/08

In terms of female voices, I spend a bit of time thinking about this - I find it really hard to single out a 'best' as they all have their strengths, but there is one voice if I had to choose that I would describe as the 'best' (probably not going to surprise anyone who I think this is).

Anyway, the way I think about this [and by the way I am trying to compare when they were in their peak, not now].

1. A group of technically proficient classical voices 

e.g. Audra McDonald, Julie Andrews, Marin Mazzie*, Kelli O'Hara, Barbara Cook etc.

* Marin Mazzie is unique in this category and probably the favourite to me because she also had a very unique ability to belt strongly too compared to the others, although to my ears her soprano is less 'pure' than the others in the category

2. A group of the most powerful belters whose strengths are most evident singing strongly/loudly

e.g. Ethel Merman, Patti LuPone, Jennifer Holliday, Idina Menzel, Liza Minnelli etc.
 

3. A group of flexible singers who have strengths in both belting (mostly not to the extent of the above) & singing quietly/vulnerably 

e.g.Betty Buckley, Donna Murphy, Bernadette Peters, Angela Lansbury, Cynthia Erivo, Alice Ripley, Chita Rivera

Plus many other groups of singers that I don't think would ever make it to a 'best' list (e.g. non-singing actresses, people with servicable 'plain' voices, people whose voices have no personality/unique timbre etc.) 

Now who is best?
 

  • In my opinion if you are speaking pure technical/classical proficiency it would be someone in group 1, but in Musical Theatre especially as the vocal trends have changed over time I don't think these voices are as flexible, unique and exciting as those in group 2 or 3. 

 

  • While I love a good belter (group 2), I think it is important for someone to be able to sing softly  & vulnerably - otherwise their voices are only most exciting in select moments. That's not to say that Ethel Merman and Patti LuPone couldn't sing softly of course, but when they do in my opinion it's far less interesting and unique as when people in Group 3 do it.

 

  • So that leaves group 3 - out of the examples above I would say Betty Buckley has by far the most powerful, piercing and unique belt - her soundboard recording of "Eve Was Weak" is incredible. But she also can sing incredibly softly and vulnerably too (see When There's No One). It's also what makes her "Memory" so thrilling in my opinion - incredible belting and vulnerability in the same song! And similarly her sunset boulevard tracks highlight this strength. So I think she could ALMOST be the greatest musical theatre voice ever to me. HOWEVER - to me the timbre of her voice is so dark that it is not as flexible as some of the others....I don't know how to describe but whenever I hear her sing I feel emotion and pain, never sweetness. I don't find it particularly pleasant listening to her sing "Some Enchanted Evening" or in fact many recordings of her performances outside the intense, dark roles she is known for

 

  • So who else? For me it has to be Bernadette Peters - in her peak (e.g. 1984-1999) she had an incredible, powerful belt, a very unique timbre, flexibility to sing dark roles, sweet roles, the ability to sing very very low (Sunday title song) but also can sing Soprano notes. She also is unmatched in my opinion in terms of vulnerability. This is why her performance in "Anyone Can Whistle", for example, is so thrilling to me - she can belt the hell out of "There Won't be Trumpets" but can then also make a slow quite number ("Anyone Can Whistle"re: The Greatest Musical Theatre Voices Ever? an absolute show stopper. There is almost nothing her voice couldn't do in its peak, including Gypsy - see her "Some People" on the C hall recording. Amazing! (sadly I think her voice did decline a little bit by the time she actually performed the role and of course she had well known vocal issues during previews - I wish she performed the role earlier).




     
"Rose in Gypsy was like going through therapy for me. Playing Rose helped me put a lot of emotions to bed. There was so much lacking in Rose and that's why she had to prove herself through her children. [interviewer]In ways that reminded you of your mom?[/interviewer]. Let's just say the role was very interesting for me. That one was the most interesting [I've ever played]" - Bernadette Peters (2018)
Updated On: 2/22/21 at 07:58 AM
Jarethan
Broadway Legend
joined:2/10/11
Broadway Legend | Joined: 2/10/11

qolbinau said: "In terms of female voices, I spend a bit of time thinking about this - I find it really hard to single out a 'best' as they all have their strengths, but there is one voice if I had to choose that I would describe as the 'best' (probably not going to surprise anyone who I think this is).

  • So who else? For me it has to be Bernadette Peters - in her peak (e.g. 1984-1999) she had an incredible, powerful belt, a very unique timbre, flexibility to sing dark roles, sweet roles, the ability to sing very very low (Sunday title song) but also can sing Soprano notes. She also is unmatched in my opinion in terms of vulnerability. This is why her performance in "Anyone Can Whistle", for example, is so thrilling to me - she can belt the hell out of "There Won't be Trumpets" but can then also make a slow quite number ("Anyone Can Whistle"re: The Greatest Musical Theatre Voices Ever? an absolute showstopper. There is almost nothing her voice couldn't do in its peak, including Gypsy - see her "Some People" on the C hall recording. Amazing! (sadly I think her voice did decline a little bit by the time she actually performed the role and of course she had well known vocal issues during previews - I wish she performed the role earlier)

For me, I actually think it may be Lansbury.  To me, she has a perfect voice for classic Broadway scores that didn't rely on a pure soprano.  Just listen to the OCRs of Mame and Gypsy.  She really had a surprisingly strong belt.  On the pure soprano front, I would have said Julie Andrews..

Updated On: 2/22/21 at 03:16 PM
dangeresque49
Chorus Member
joined:4/20/19
Chorus Member | Joined: 4/20/19
This subject made me think about the time I saw Great Comet. I thought josh groban was going to be the best voice I ever heard. It turns out while he is good so is pretty much everyone in a leading role on broadway. The guy who played Anatole was awesome. I got a stage seat for that one too the whole thing sounded unbelievable.
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noradesmond
Featured Actor
joined:10/29/08
Featured Actor | Joined: 10/29/08

stonewall2 said: "For sheer clarity and diction Mary Martin topped my list! Have you ever listened to songs as a kid and completly misunderstood the words 'cause the singer wasn't clear(and then felt like a fool as an adult!!!)??"

I was surprised Mary Martin had not been mentioned yet. 

 

Jarethan
Broadway Legend
joined:2/10/11
Broadway Legend | Joined: 2/10/11

noradesmond said: "stonewall2 said: "For sheer clarity and diction Mary Martin topped my list! Have you ever listened to songs as a kid and completly misunderstood the words 'cause the singer wasn't clear(and then felt like a fool as an adult!!!)??"

I was surprised Mary Martin had not been mentioned yet.


IMO Mary Martin had mega-charisma and a good voice, nothing more.

 

Jarethan
Broadway Legend
joined:2/10/11
Broadway Legend | Joined: 2/10/11

Dup...slow internet

 

Updated On: 2/25/21 at 10:25 PM
Jarethan
Broadway Legend
joined:2/10/11
Broadway Legend | Joined: 2/10/11

Same...sorry

 


 

Updated On: 2/25/21 at 10:25 PM

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