Celebrate Women’s History Month with a Tuesday – Friday series honoring women both on and back stage.  And Saturday morning Zoom dance classes (check out our social media feeds for more details).

Tuesday, March 16 – Lyricists

Job Description: A lyricist creates and writes the words for the songs in a musical production. The lyricist works closely with the composer to guarantee that the lyrical and musical components of a piece work together in tandem.

Lynn Ahrens

Lynn Ahrens is half of one of the most celebrated musical theatre writing teams of our time, Ahrens & Flaherty. but she is most regarded for her Tony winning musical Ragtime. Younger viewers might recognize Ahrens’ song “Here’s Where I Stand” from the film Camp (2003). Ahrens wrote the teleplay for “A Christmas Carol” (2004) starring Kelsey Grammar, and contributed music & lyrics to “Schoolhouse Rock” for over 35 years.

WATCH the original cast of Ragtime perform at the 1998 Tony Awards

Brenda Russell

Brenda Russell is a lyricist, composer, singer, and producer who collaborated with Allee Willis and Stephen Bray to write the musical The Color Purple, which was nominated for a 11 Tony and a Grammy Award, and was revived in 2016, winning a Tony & Grammy. Russell’s primary focus for many years has been Pop & R&B records, having produced for Earth, Wind & Fire, Donna Summer, & Diana Ross, as well as releasing 8 of her own solo albums.

WATCH Cynthia Erivo sing “I’m Here” from Russell’s The Color Purple

Dorothy Fields

Is a lyricist and librettist who has written over 400 songs for Broadway musicals and films, and was one of the first successful Broadway & Hollywood songwriters. She collaborated with the likes Jerome Kern, Irving Berlin, Cy Coleman, & Jimmy McHugh. Her catalogue of songs includes “The Way You Look Tonight”, “A Fine Romance”, “On The Sunny Side of the Street”, “Pick Yourself Up”, “I Can’t Give You Anything But Love”, and “Big Spender”.

LISTEN to Dorothy Fields’ Academy Award-winning song “The Way You Look Tonight” sung by Ella Fitzgerald

Friday, March 12 – Actors

Job Description: Broadway cast members may serve in smaller parts may require only a line or two or no speaking at all, or lead roles that require hours of stage time and the memorization of numerous lines. These spots are particularly demanding, requiring repeat performances that hit the right emotional notes time after time. Musicals have chorus roles that are non-speaking parts but require dancing and singing. Cast members rehearse not only before a play opens but they also frequently must rehearse during a show’s run, polishing and adjusting their performances.

Ethel Merman

Ethel Merman has been called “the undisputed first lady of the musical comedy stage”. Known for her powerful voice and comedic timing, Merman took the leading roles in the original productions of many beloved musical theatre titles, such as Anything Goes, Annie Get Your Gun, Girl Crazy, Gypsy, and Call Me Madam.

WATCH Ethel Merman in 1960 singing “Eveything’s Coming Up Roses” from Gypsy

Chita Rivera

Chita Rivera has been nominated for 10 Tony Awards, with 3 wins, and was the first Latin American to be a Kennedy Center Honoree. One of the most iconic triple threats in Broadway history, Rivera originated some of the most physically demanding roles in musical theatre, such as Anita in West Side Story, Velma Kelly in Chicago, Rosie in Bye Bye Birdie, and many more.

WATCH Chita Rivera in 1982 dancing the “Shriner’s Ballet” from Bye Bye Birdie

Audra McDonald

Audra McDonald has the most Tony wins (6) of anyone in Broadway history, and is the first person to win in all 4 categories. In a form increasingly dominated by belters, Audra’s operatic soprano rings out above them all, starring in hits like Ragtime, Porgy and Bess, Carousel, 110 in the Shade, and Lady Day.

WATCH Audra McDonald in 2012 singing “Summertime” from Porgy and Bess

Thursday, March 11 – Stage Managers

Job Description: The stage manager typically comes on one week before rehearsals, and is essentially the Chief Organizing Officer throughout the rehearsal process. From contact sheets and company member health forms to scene breakdowns and prop lists to taping out the rehearsal room floor, the stage manager is the keeper of all of the information on a production and serves as the go-between for all departments. Once a production moves into the theatre the stage manager wrangles house staff and the needs of the creative team and company, as well as “calling” (readying and cuing all sound effects, lighting, set moves, and more) each performance

Ruth Mitchell

Ruth Mitchell was one of the first women to enter the Stage Managing profession. She went on to manage over 50 Broadway productions, including iconic shows such as West Side Story, Sweeney Todd, and The Phantom of the Opera. She partnered as a producer with the great Hal Prince for during the later part of her career.

READ Ruth Mitchell’s obituary on Playbil

Lisa Dawn Cave

After a decade as a performer, Lisa Dawn Cave went from swinging (covering multiple roles in the show) to Stage Managing. Since being hired by Hal Prince on the revival of Show Boat, Cave has been a constant presence, managing many of the biggest and most complex shows on Broadway.

READ about Lisa Dawn Cave’s journey

Amber White

After a short stint in the regional circuit, Amber White quickly moved on to Broadway, most notably as a State Manager for Lin-Manuel Miranda’s In the Heights and Hamilton.

READ A Day in the Life of Hamilton’s Stage Manager

Wednesday, March 10 – Lighting Designers

Job Description: Lighting Designers manage all aspects of lighting for a production. They must create plans, determine what lights are needed, direct lighting cues and work with other members of the production team to carry out the vision of the director. Lighting design is essential to direct the eyes, frame the picture and aid in the transitions from scene to scene.

Jean Rosenthal

Jean Rosenthal was among the first to establish ‘Lighting Designer’ as a legitimate career and integral member of the design team. Early on, she worked with master artists such as Martha Graham and Orson Welles, and quickly became the best in her field, pioneering the use of flood lights to eliminate shadows (among other contributions). Rosenthal designed hundreds of productions for Broadway, the NYC Ballet, and the Metropolitan Opera.

READ an article about lighting pioneer Jean Rosenthal

Tharon Musser

Tony-winning Lighting Designer Tharon Musser made her B’way debut designing the 1956 O’Neil play A Long Day’s Journey Into Night, and worked early on with other heavy-weights like Edward Albee, Neil Simon, and Gene Saks. Musser launched heavily into musicals in the 1970’s, and with A Chorus Line (1975) was the first to design a production that utilized a computerized lighting console instead of the manually operated “piano boards”

READ an article about Tony-winner Tharon Musser

Natasha Katz

6-time Tony Award-winning Natasha Katz is the leading Lighting Designer on Broadway. She’s designed seemingly every recent hit, from The Prom and most every Disney stage-show, to the upcoming Diana.

WATCH Natasha Katz talk about her journey in theatre

Tuesday, March 9 – Composers

  1. Mary Rodgers
    1. Mary Rodgers is a Tony nominated composer, author, and screenwriter. Daughter of Richard Rodgers, mother of Adam Guettel, and dear friend of Stephen Sondheim, Mary is best known for writing the music of Once Upon a Mattress (which launched Carol Burnett to stardom) and for penning the novel Freaky Friday (which has since had many adaptations).
    2. WATCH Carol Burnett in 1964 singing Rodgers’ tune “Shy” from Once Upon a Mattress
  2. Micki Grant
    1. Micki Grant is a Tony nominated writer, composer, and performer. Grant most famously collaborated with Vinnette Carroll (the first Black woman to direct on Broadway) & George Faison in Don’t Bother Me, I Can’t Cope, which Micki wrote music, book, lyrics, and starred in.
    2. LISTEN to the title song from Grant’s Don’t Bother Me, I Can’t Cope
  3. Jeanine Tesori
    1. Tony & Pulitzer Prize winning writer, arranger, and producer Jeanine Tesori is the first female composer to have two new musicals running concurrently on Broadway. In addition to her many acclaimed writing credits, she was a producer on the recent revival of Sunday in the Park with George, starring Jake Gyllenhal and Annaleigh Ashford, which she originally produced as Artistic Director of Encores! Off-Center.
    2. WATCH the 2002 Tony performance of Thoroughly Modern Millie starring Sutton Foster
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