Broadway is known for shaping talented performers, and audiences love to play casting director with favorite stars. Who hasn’t built their dream cast of Wicked or Cabaret or Rent? Each of these stars has created a memorable role (or more), and made a name for themselves doing it. Still, there are some dream pairings of actor and role we would love to see:
1. Sutton Foster as Maureen in Rent
Who doesn’t want to hear Foster sing “Over the Moon” with those dreamy eyes and that killer belt? It would be a different direction from the characters she often plays. Her stage presence is incomparable, so it seems like a natural fit. Plus, her offbeat sense of humor makes her a great Maureen. The idea of Foster as a self-involved bisexual activist makes us want to scream, “Moooooooo!”
2. Lea Salonga as Mary Poppins in Mary Poppins
Salonga brings an air of sophistication to the stage and her bell-like soprano would make her Mary ring. Not to mention, as a person she seems practically perfect in every way. She eases her audiences, making them feel comfortable, like a loving nanny. But it’s her killer acting chops and vocal technique that would make a chimney sweep blush. She’s classy and no stranger to the Disney franchise, having voiced Jasmine in Aladdin and the title character in Mulan. Her maturity as a performer renders her a fitting choice to shepherd this musical.
3. Megan Hilty as Roxie Hart in Chicago
It seems like everything Megan does screams “Roxie Hart” (snap, snap, snap). The key to Hilty is that she makes everything her own style. Her sex appeal is classic, and she knows how to bring vulnerability and strength into the mix without feeling artificial. There’s a mini Roxie inside her begging to slip on the leotard and “Fosse” for days. Her perfected Marilyn whisper (a lá Smash) could serve her well playing this inmate of the Cook County Jail.
4. Bernadette Peters as Mrs. Lovett in Sweeney Todd
Picture Peters holding a rolling pin singing, “The Worst Pies in London.” Doesn’t it give you chills? With the snap of a finger, she can make you cry, make you laugh or both. She’s Sondheim-trained and always brings a groundedness to his lyrics. No doubt her experience as Into the Woods’ Witch will help her tap into the deliciously eccentric (and slightly evil) Mrs. Lovett. It takes a mentally strong and versatile performer to do it justice, and Peters is the epitome of all those things.
5. Patina Miller as Elphaba in Wicked
Miller’s voice is one of the more unique sounds in musical theatre right now—that tambor pings. She also knows how to get an audience on her side, whether asking audiences to “join us” as Pippin’s Leading Player or taking on Whoopi Goldberg’s famous Sister Act. Before we know it, we have fallen in love with not only her character, but with her as person. That ability screams “Elphaba!” Her belting notes and sultry soft tones are perfect for any of Elphie’s songs, be it “Wizard and I,” “I’m Not That Girl,” “No Good Deed,” or the epic “Defying Gravity.” When are we going to see Miller put on the green makeup?
6. Neil Patrick Harris as Fiyero in Wicked
Fiyero: A sure of himself guy who knows how to charm the ladies. Neil Patrick Harris already played that part beautifully as Barney Stinson in CBS’s How I Met Your Mother. Thank goodness he has the vocal chops and charisma to pull this off. Not only is he gracious onstage, but he makes everyone in the audience feel like they’re being treated. To us, that is exactly the spirit any actor needs to have when playing Fiyero.
7. Patti Lupone as the Witch in Into the Woods
LuPone has played most of theatre’s famous “diva” roles. She’s even originated a few (Eva Peron and Fantine anyone?). We would love to see her play one of Sondheim’s deepest and most complex roles. The Witch is hard, yet fragile; strong, but desperate; giant, yet timid. LuPone knows how to bring her A-game to everything she does, and her presence will captivate audiences to stay with her.
8. Harry Connick Jr. as Jean Valjean in Les Misérables
While Connick hasn’t been a huge presence in the community since On a Clear Day You Can See Forever, there’s no denying his talent. The power in his voice and appeal exuding from this man’s eyes is made for Jean Valjean. Connick charms (he is from New Orleans, after all), and we want to hear his world-famous jazz sound transformed into the voice of a prisoner-turned-noble Frenchman. Connick has it all: the voice, the wit, the intensity, the dramatics; he will sweep the stage with his rendition of “Bring Him Home.” The thought of it nearly brings us tears.
9. Aaron Tveit as Bobby in Company
The quality of Tveit’s voice is uncanny. He can sing high above the staff effortlessly. As we saw most recently in Grease: Live, this man has natural talent. While his voice is one of the strongest out there, he also knows how to be introspective (like in the above Miscast video), which is key for the complex role of the conflicted bachelor. To succeed in the role of Bobby, an actor must bear his soul while also conveying emotionally timidity. Tveit would bring a fresh perspective to this part.
10. Nathan Lane as Edna Turnblad in Hairspray
It’s safe to say that Nathan Lane can do anything. Created by Harvey Fierstein, Edna Turnblad is a comedic role made for Lane. Knowing Lane makes specific choices, we welcome the opportunity to see what he would bring to the material. Plus, imagine that grand entrance in “Welcome to the ’60s”—wig, dress and all. Lane has a heart that reflects the smiles of his audience, and with a role like Edna, he’ll wield his presence as the no-nonsense mama.
11. Billy Porter as Billy Flynn in Chicago