Discussion: Country … on Broadway?

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November 22, 2008

I fell in love with Broadway musicals at age 6 when my parents took me to see “Camelot”. It was a truly magical experience, and over the years I’ve often wondered if my early love of musicals contributed to my discovery of country music, as both rely on the emotional connection developed through story songs.

In recent years, a number of mainstream musical artists have ventured onto “The Great White Way.”  Among them former American Idol contestants and pop stars. For the most part country music stars have stayed away, but Reba McEntire stands out as a noteworthy exception. In 2001, she starred in “Annie Get Your Gun” to great acclaim. Even as a mid-run replacement she was given a special Drama Desk award, among others. She also gave a memorable turn as Nellie Forbush in the Carnegie Hall production of “South Pacific” in 2006.

While I do believe the experience may be beneficial for some artists in learning how to interpret lyrics and connect with the audience, most country artists will likely never perform on Broadway. So mostly for fun, and out of appreciation and love for both genres, I cast some of today’s country artists in various Broadway roles:

  • Carrie Underwood as Cosette in “Les Miserables”
  • Kellie Pickler as Ado Annie Carnes in “Oklahoma”
  • Emily West as Sally Bowles in “Cabaret”
  • Julianne Hough as Glinda in “Wicked”
  • Toby Keith as Jud Fry in “Oklahoma”
  • Taylor Swift as Wendla Bergmann in “Spring Awakening”
  • John Rich as Harold Hill in “Music Man”
  • Ashton Shepherd as Jo March in “Little Women”
  • Keith Urban as Roger Davis in “Rent”
  • Brad Paisley as Seymour Krelborn in “Little Shop of Horrors”
  • Charles Kelley as Joe Gillis in “Sunset Boulevard”
  • Martina McBride as Peter in “Peter Pan”
  • Big Kenny as the Engineer in “Miss Saigon”

What do you think? Any additions?

Reba in “Annie Get Your Gun”

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  1. SheldonNo Gravatar says:

    Don’t forget about Larry Gatlin and Roger Miller – Both were big on Broadway…Roger won a PILE of Tony awards…and Dolly’s music is heading to Broadway this spring with “9 to 5 – the Musical”

  2. Lynn DouglasNo Gravatar says:

    Very true Sheldon! Roger Miller wrote the music and lyrics for one of my favorite musicals “Big River” (the adventures of Huck Finn). Larry Gatlin starred in “Will Rogers Follies” which is also a fun show.

    I didn’t mention Dolly’s musical “9 to 5″ because no country stars will perform in it on Broadway. (Actually, I read that Alison Janney is going to be in it (love her!) and Megan Hilty (who was fantastic as Glinda in “Wicked”).)

    I also didn’t mention “Urban Cowboy, the Musical”, among others, which did not star any known country singers, but a whole host of famous songs made their way into the score.

  3. SpencerNo Gravatar says:

    Gary Morris also had a turn on Broadway as Jean Valjean in “Les Miserables” many years ago. That’s a role I could see Tim McGraw nailing.

    A young Troy Gentry as Curly in “Oklahoma!”

    Carrie Underwood as Kate Monster from “Avenue Q.” Yes, I know the character is a puppet, but I can see Underwood singing “There’s a Fine, Fine Line” and bringing the house down. The other R-rated bits could possibly cause some of her fans to go into shock, though, and alter that wholesome image forever.

  4. Occasional HopeNo Gravatar says:

    Is the role you suggested for Taylor Swift a non-singing one?

  5. BethNo Gravatar says:

    I find it a bit insulting that Carrie Underwood is cast in the children’s role. Sure, the character matures, but well towards the end.

  6. J.R. JourneyNo Gravatar says:

    Jennifer Nettles in ‘Wicked’.

  7. Lynn DouglasNo Gravatar says:

    Carrie Underwood is not cast in a children’s role. Two different actresses play that part – one a child, the other an adult (as Cosette matures through the show). Obviously, I intended for her to play the adult role.

  8. SamBNo Gravatar says:

    Cosette is an adult for most of Les Miserables. As a child she only has one song, then several as an adult (albeit no full solo numbers).

  9. Lynn DouglasNo Gravatar says:

    Jennifer Nettles would actually be great in the role of Elphaba in “Wicked.” Actually, I could cast a country version of that entire show pretty easily!

    Also, for the record, I was not insulting Martina McBride by casting her as Peter Pan. That role is always played by a woman, and she has the right look and voice for that role. It’s a favorite role of mine.

  10. J.R. JourneyNo Gravatar says:

    Yeah, wasn’t Larry Hagman’s mother the original Peter Pan?

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