Five singers who went from Billboard to Broadway with ease

These singers killed it on stage.
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Josh Groban had been on Broadway. In 2016, he acquitted himself quite well in Dave Malloy’s Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812. But this was Sondheim. This was Sweeney Todd. It had won the Best Musical Tony in 1980 and had already been revived on Broadway twice. It had been revived in London three times, twice winning the Olivier for Best Revival. Len Cariou and George Hearn had played this role. Brian Stokes Mitchell sang the part. Johnny Depp was in the movie. There was A LOT to live up to.

I missed Groban on stage, but I do know several people who did catch him. They all echoed what NY Times critic Jesse Green had to say. Though he could not pull off quite the same menace that an actor like Cariou achieved, his voice was outstanding. He gave Sweeney a different texture. It may emphasize the dark, absurdist comedy more than the sheer terror, but for the most part, audiences seemed satisfied.

Groban told Stephen Colbert that the hardest part of the production was eating the rather unappetizing meat pies. And then singing. It is entirely possible that Groban's two successful runs on Broadway may lead to a third – one in which he does not have to swallow gluten-free pies and slit people’s throats.

Next. Overlooked 1980s. Overlooked albums from the 1980s. dark

I recently saw a local revival of the 1960s game-changer Hair, which helped vault the rock opera into the mainstream.  Almost sixty years later, rock & roll seems to be enjoying a new life in New York. A revival of The Who’s Tommy is playing at Nederlander. The James Earle Jones Theatre has The Heart of Rock and Roll, a musical featuring the songs of former Billy Flynn actor Huey Lewis. And Arcade Fire’s Will Butler has written original songs for Stereophonic at the Golden.

I imagine we’ll be seeing a few more recording artists looking for the particular brand of challenge and excitement that only live theater can provide. At least Phil Collins got his little taste back when he was a teen. So many other accomplished singers haven’t had that chance yet.

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