In honour of International Women’s Day, at Jazzart, we wanted to take a minute to celebrate some of the finest female performers in the musical theatre industry. Through hard work and determination, these actors have gone on to have amazing careers while undoubtedly bringing much joy and inspiration to aspiring actors who want to follow in their footsteps. Here’s a short list of some of our favourites:
Dame Julie Andrews
Easily one of the most beloved performers in the world, Dame Julie Andrews first found success on the English stage in the late 1940s before moving to America where she made her Broadway debut in The Boyfriend. In 1956 she starred opposite Rex Harrison as Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady for which she received her first Tony Nomination. Other notable performances include her roles as Mary Poppins and Maria von Trapp in Mary Poppins and The Sound of Music respectively, which have remained popular classics to this day!
Born in New York City in 1971, Idina Menzel made her Broadway debut playing Maureen in Rent, a role which she reprised in the 2005 film version. In 2003 she starred alongside Kristin Chenoweth as Elphaba in the musical Wicked for which she received the 2004 Tony Award for best leading actress. Aside from musical theatre, Menzel has also had many successful roles in both television and film, most recently voicing the character of Elsa in Frozen and Frozen 2.
As a teenager, Liza Minnelli gave up her studies to pursue a stage career in New York and it was here that she landed her first leading Broadway role as the titular Flora in The Red Menace. Despite only running for a few weeks, Minelli won a Tony Award for her performance and as she was only 19 at the time, this made her one of the youngest performers to ever win the award. In 1972, she performed arguably her most iconic role; Sally Bowles in the movie Cabaret for which she won an Academy Award.
Not only has Barbara Streisand sold approximately 250 million records worldwide, she is the only artist to have earned honours from all the major award institutions, including: 2 Academy Awards, 1 Tony Award, 5 Emmys, 10 Grammys, 13 Golden Globes and the American Film Institute’s Lifetime Achievement Award. Some of the most significant musical theatre performances from her long and successful career include: Fanny Bryce in Funny Girl, Dolly Levi in Hello Dolly and Yentl in Yentl.
Martha Graham is recognized as a primal artistic force of the 20th century. Her style, the Graham technique, reshaped American dance and is still taught worldwide. Martha danced and taught for over 70 years! TIME magazine named her as “Dancer of the Century” and People magazine named her among the female “Icons of the Century”. In 1926, Martha founded her dance company and school, living and working out of a tiny Carnegie Hall studio in midtown Manhattan. The Martha Graham School is the oldest professional school of dance in the United States and the only one primarily focused on the Martha Graham Technique and repertory. Martha Graham is most definitely iconic!
Look out for Part 2 of our International Women’s Day blog!