The 5 Most “Under-the-Radar” Female Performers on Broadway Right Now
By Jonathan Edmondson
The Broadway community is currently abuzz with anticipation over the fall season. Theater veterans like Nathan Lane and celebrities such as Hugh Jackman and Bradley Cooper will be taking the stage in much talked about productions. While audiences will certainly flock to New York to see these headliners, there is a crop of under-appreciated talent that is worth tuning into. Whether originating a role in a brand-new musical or bringing fresh talent to a familiar role, these future household names have talent that is undeniable and portray their roles with something beautifully intricate. Below are five of the most under-the-radar actresses currently on Broadway.
5. Jenn Colella as Anne in “If/Then”
“If/Then,” the Tony-nominated new musical starring Idina Menzel, features a dynamic cast of diverse talent. Colella, who plays the girlfriend of the character Kate (LaChanze), has a striking look and a gorgeous voice. She easily holds her own with legends like Menzel, LaChanze and Anthony Rapp. With an impressive Broadway history, including roles in “Chaplain,” “High Fidelity” and “Urban Cowboy,” Colella proves that she is an impactful performer who deserves to step into a leading role in the near feature. In addition to her vocal talents, Colella is a LGBTQ advocate, which makes her all the more interesting and engaging as a person.
4. Lisa O’Hare as Sibella Hallward in “A Gentlemen’s Guide to Love and Murder”
“Gentlemen’s Guide” received many accolades at the 2014 Tony Awards, but none of them made note of musical standout O’Hare. Originating from Britain, she makes her Broadway debut in this production playing a hilarious dame who gets caught in a messy love-triangle. “Audiences are eating up Lisa O’Hare’s performance as a self-centered beauty who is so bored with her rich husband that she has an affair with her ex-beau,” said theater critic Beth Stevens in an article for Broadway.com. While the men in the cast get the most laughs, O’Hare gets the biggest with this featured comedic role.
3. Gayle Rankin as Fräulein Kost in “Cabaret”
Rankin proves she can hold her her own during her Broadway debut as the feisty Kost in “Cabaret” opposite Michelle Williams and Alan Cummings. “[Rankin has] a stunning Broadway debut as the Nazi-sympathizing, accordion-playing prostitute Fraulein Kost,” said Stevens. The Scotland native and Julliard graduate is a triple threat in acting, singing and dancing. She impresses with featured dances and stuns with a soaring belt during “Tomorrow Belongs to Me,” a show-stopping Act I number.
2. Michele McConnell as Carlotta Guidicelli in “Phantom of the Opera”
“Phantom,” which opened in 1988 and is currently the longest running show on Broadway, has a continuously rotating cast of theater veterans and celebrities alike. While audiences generally come to see whoever is playing the latest Phantom or Christine, the role of Carlotta is one of the hardest roles to portray with accuracy. Her songs involve intricate melodies and require a bombastic, operatic sound that is only acquired through years of classical training. McConnell plays the part with vocal tenacity and fierce histrionics. As the counterpoint to Christine, the character offers both comedic relief and soaring soprano vocals. As the operas company original prima donna, Carlotta is inherently over-the-top. McConnell captures Carlotta with perfection and passion, adding a new dimension to an otherwise familiar show.
McConnell, a 41 year-old Indianapolis native, makes her Broadway debut with this show. “I was in New York for 14 years—I thought I didn’t have the pedigree,” McConnell said to Broadway.com. Luckily for us, someone finally discovered her talent.
1. Deanna Doyle as Meg Giry in “The Phantom of the Opera”
Along with McConnell as Carlotta, Doyle also shines in the current “Phantom” cast. She plays another of the supporting females in the show and demonstrates her soaring, tender soprano in the song “Angel of Music.” When not belting out numbers, Doyle bounces around on stage with earnest energy and showcases her chops as an actor and dancer.
Aside from being a performer, Doyle works at the Broadway Dance Center in New York and has also choreographed numerous traveling shows around the country. She also judges dance competitions across the globe.