30 Seconds of Broadway Musical Glory, From Lorna Luft to Lena Hall
December 3rd, 2014
by Josh Ferri
There are so many reasons to love Lorna Luft, but if we had to boil it down to two: she’s an Emmy-winning performer whose mother happens to be Judy Garland and she gave a performance for the ages as Marilyn wannabe Paulette in Grease 2. Now if had to narrow those down to one, Grease 2 would win, mostly because of her seven seconds of perfection in the song “Score Tonight.” (1:28).
Now this is just one example of such musical magic. Time and time again, we've seen that a great singer only needs mere seconds to steal a song, give us life and go down in theatre nerd history. Below are 12 such examples of those moments in group numbers where one person basically says, “I got this.”
Megan Mullally is terrific in “Paris Original” from the ’95 revival of How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, but it’s Kristi Lynes who makes us finger wave with her belt at 2:44-2:59. Imagine hearing that live in a theatre? #Only3BroadwayCredits #WhereAreYouKristi
In the original Side Show, there was this sexy (?) showstopper called “Tunnel of Love” or its subtitle “Hugh, Emily and Alice have a belt-off in dim lights.” Spoiler alert: Alice Ripley wins at 4:50-5:00—this music is still in the revival and Emily Padgett nails it!
We honestly thought we were tripping the first time we heard current Pippin tour star Sasha Allen wailing in Hair’s “Walking in Space.” (1:31-2:09)
Ladies don’t have a monopoly on the mid-song moment. Pitch Perfect’s Skylar Astin had us gripping the arm rests of the Eugene O'Neill Theatre to keep from slipping to the floor when he had his solo (3:30-4:12) in Spring Awakening’s “Touch Me.”
How could we have a feature about big-voiced belters who stop and steal a number and not include Tony nominee Orfeh? All of her best Legally Blonde were in solo songs and this is a group project, so let’s take it back to Saturday Night Fever and this “Jive Talkin’” foolishness. #IsItTooLateForaCastRecording #UghLondon
However, a Legally Blonde moment that would be criminal not to include is Kate Shindle’s “Legally Blonde Remix.” The whole thing, but really “the best frickin’ shoes” at 2:18.
And since Laurence O’Keefe wrote both Legally Blonde and Heathers, you can bet Heathers had its own moment, and it comes in the first song…twice. First, Jessica Keenan-Wynn has her haunting raspy solo at 6:20, then Barrett Wilbert Weed brings us to church and beyond beginning at 7:26.
In the big Act I finale of In the Heights, Lin-Manuel Miranda gave all his actors a moment to crush it. You can listen like five times and just pay attention to Mandy Gonzalez or Karen Olivo or Janet Dacal. It’s a choose your own adventure of Olympic Belting.
Another Hair entry, this time from the Actors Fund Recording (which everyone needs to own) . Norm Lewis starts us out strong then a bunch of amazing singers have their moments in the middle, but this track is here for Tony winner Billy Porter, who is living his entire life beginning at 3:39.
Dynamite is one way to describe what Hairspray badass Shayna Steele did at the end of “Welcome to the ‘60s.” The first course was served from 2:16-2:20. Then dinner and dessert were delivered promptly at 3:41-4:47. Now, that’s what you call killer in any decade. Honorable mention goes to OBCer Danelle Eugenia Wilson’s Little Inez verse in “Run and Tell That.”
Broadway might never be able to revive Rocky Horror again because no Riff Raff will do what Raúl Esparza did. Two examples: “Frankenstein Place” from 2:02- 2:34. And then “The Floor Show” beginning 7:16. (Put on your pearls because you’re going to need to clutch something.)
Now like Raúl, Lena Hall has made a career (and won a Tony) for making our draws drop to the floor with vocals. In the last two seasons, girl has done it TWICE! First, she got Kinky Boots off to a Best Musical-winning start with her whole solo section but then she almost killed us dead with “these shoes will carry me…” (5:18-5:30)
And Hall won a Tony Award for what she did in Hedwig and the Angry Inch. You have to see it live because it’s even more jaw dropping, but 4:46-5:19 will give you an idea of what’s happening to audiences at the Belasco Theatre.
Don’t miss your chance to see Lorna Luft live at 54 Below December 17 and 18.