Various Artists

My Favorite Broadway: The Leading Ladies

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On a Monday night in September 1998, PBS's Great Performances series staged a program at Carnegie Hall that was a kind of one time only Lilith Fair of the musical theater. Drawing on the talents of 16 female performers then appearing in Broadway musicals (and thus in New York and available, Monday being the theater's traditional "dark" night), plus a few ringers, the lineup presented women repeating their current roles (Karen Ziemba and Bebe Neuwirth's "Nowadays" from Chicago, Lea DeLaria's "I Can Cook Too" from On the Town) and women re-creating roles they had originated or revived on Broadway (Faith Prince's "Adelaide's Lament" from Guys & Dolls, Priscilla Lopez's "Nothing" from A Chorus Line, Andrea McArdle's "Tomorrow" from Annie, Debra Monk's "Everybody's Girl" from Steel Pier, Nell Carter's "Mean to Me" from Ain't Misbehavin', Dorothy Loudon's "Fifty Percent" from Ballroom, Jennifer Holliday's "And I'm Telling You" [aka "And I Am Telling You I Am Not Going"] from Dreamgirls, and Elaine Stritch's "The Ladies Who Lunch" from Company), with some interesting combinations thrown in. Particularly interesting were Linda Eder's version of "Man of La Mancha," a song well within her range, if not her gender, and "The Webber Love Trio" [sic], in which three of Andrew Lloyd Webber's songs were rendered by Audra McDonald, Marin Mazzie, and Judy Kuhn. One might note that some of these "leading ladies" were actually second leads and that, without such missing names as Bernadette Peters, Patti LuPone, and Betty Buckley, the show could not boast a comprehensive collection of the current crop of female Broadway stars. But that didn't mean there weren't some wonderful performances of some terrific show tunes done by many of the people who sang them for a living.

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