How has singing on Broadway changed over the years? This is a complicated topic that few individuals have explored at length. It is important to note that new research on musical theatre voice training is being released almost daily. We must explore this subject from multiple angles in order to fully understand it. In this two-part blog series, I will approach the topic from a historical perspective. These posts are not meant to be comprehensive in scope, but they will provide an overview based on personal research.
PART I: 1900-1960s
At the turn of the 20th century, virtually all leading ladies on Broadway were classically-trained, ‘legit’ sopranos. Prior to 1930, belt singing was used for character roles only. Although vaudeville actresses like May Irwin, Stella Mayhew, Ethel Levey, and Sophie Tucker did sing in belt voice, they frequently did so in roles which stereotyped minorities. It is important to stress that belting was not a Broadway…
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