Let’s start a weekly post devoted to some of my favorite Broadway “divas”, shall we? I use “”, as most of these women are only divas in my mind, and I doubt any of them would label themselves as such. Each one has a gift that should be celebrated.
My first Friday Diva post features the talented Miss Alice Ripley, 2009 Tony Award nominee for Best Actress in a Musical:
Alice came into my radar when she opened the Broadway cast of Sunset Boulevard as Betty Schaefer, replacing a pregnant Judy Kuhn (who will have her own Diva Friday post in the very near future). Years ago, Sunset Boulevard was kind of an obsession, and I gloated over my encyclopedic knowledge of the show. (Don’t worry, my tastes in shows haven’t improved). So, naturally, Alice was part of this obsession, by proxy.
Click here to see her “big scene” in Sunset (can I tell you how geeked I am to learn how to link to a specific time in a YouTube video??? Major.)
However, little did I know her talents were much more than pretty soprano ingenue.
The next show that really brought her into focus for me was Side Show — a musical about Siamese twins. It was a cult favorite, and a commercial flop, yet has enjoyed a very healthy afterlife in regional theatre. What emerged from the ashes of that crumbled show was the mega Broadway duo known as Alice Ripley and Emily Skinner, or Skinneripley. They rocked the Tony Awards in 1998 receiving a joint nomination for their amazing turns as the Hilton sisters. Below is their notable Tony performance:
Three things make this particular performance notable:
- The introduction. Alice (on the right) began the song with the wrong line (“I’m scared, Daisy…,” vs. “What have we done…?”), causing Emily to improvise…and wring her hands. The tears of confusion and shock are not just brilliant acting, but the result of dread and fear of losing it on live TV. (To see the correct introduction, watch their performance of this number on the Rosie show here.)
- Yes, Emily is a wee larger than Alice. This is due to the show closing six months prior to the Tonys. Bodies change. Apparently Alice’s flub was caused by the shock of seeing her close friend and costar in costume for the first time in over half a year.
- The performance? Amazing.
So, she’s a great actress who sings soprano, with a KILLER rock belt.
Did someone say rock? Yes — Alice writes and performs her own faux rock music, too. While I must admit that I’m not a fan of Broadway singers doing “pop” or “alternative” music, kudos to them for trying to branch out.
Amongst her other credits, I must note that she sang a thrilling “Meadowlark” as Geneviève in The Baker’s Wife at Papermill Playhouse a few years ago. How do I know this? YouTube, of course:
(Neveryoumind the final note is a tad…flat. It was a preview.)
And now…she’s the favorite to win the Best Actress Tony Award for her landmark performance in Next To Normal. Every major critic is predicting her win, and it’s long overdue. Thank God another true-blue Broadway singer/actress is set to win this award (Last year was LuPone for Gypsy).
Here she is, in her Tony-Nominated role, playing a bi-polar suburban mother dealing with all sorts of highly-contemporary issues:
I hope you learned something…or please teach me something about Miss Ripley. Comment below.