100 Theatre Performers To See Before You Die

Aaron Netsky

  • OnStage New York Columnist
  • @AaronNetsky

Seems like every day on facebook there’s a new list by which to measure how culturally informed you are, whether it’s some form of “100 Books You Must Read Before You Die” or “100 Movies Your Must See Before You Die” or, more rarely, “100 Musicals To See Before You Die” or, even more rarely, “100 Plays To See Before You Die.”

My list is less judgmental, and in fact is more a measure of how much fun you have had or could have before you die. It is a list of performers you should see live, whether on Broadway or in concert, or in a small off-off Broadway space or cabaret room. It’s also arguably harder to complete, since unlike books and movies, which are there for you to pick up or put on at your leisure, some of these people may not give you the opportunity to see them perform live, although you might be surprised. Even the oldest among them are still quite active.

For the record, I’ve seen sixty-seven of them, mostly in big musicals with ensemble casts, but sometimes in significantly smaller settings. I don’t know how many more of them I will manage to see before I die, and then there are the people not listed, and then there are the stars of tomorrow…like any list, it’s really far larger than any blog post can convey, and always growing, but here, at least, is a start:

1)             Chita Rivera

2)             Bernadette Peters

3)             Kristen Chenoweth

4)             Audra McDonald

5)             Joel Grey

6)             John McMartin

7)             Patti LuPone

8)             Idina Menzel

9)             Norm Lewis

10)          Raúl Esparza

11)          Brian Stokes Mitchell

12)          Laura Benanti

13)          Jane Krakowski

14)          Sutton Foster

15)          Hunter Foster

16)          John Cullum

17)          George Hearn

18)          Carolee Carmello

19)          Greg Edelman

20)          Terrence Mann

21)          Rebecca Luker

22)          Melissa Errico

23)          Linda Eder

24)          Judy Kuhn

25)          Will Chase

26)          Robert Cuccioli

27)          Michael Crawford

28)          Jessie Mueller

29)          Andy Karl

30)          Andrew Samonsky

31)          Lea Salonga

32)          Stephanie J. Block

33)          Faith Prince

34)          Kevin Chamberlin

35)          Nathan Lane

36)          Matthew Broderick

37)          Bebe Neuwirth

38)          Jackie Hoffman

39)          Angela Lansbury

40)          James Earl Jones

41)          Seth Rudetsky

42)          Billy Porter

43)          Christian Borle

44)          Andrew Rannells

45)          Norbert Leo Butz

46)          Hugh Jackman

47)          Neil Patrick Harris

48)          Peter Benson

49)          Robert Creighton

50)          Jill Paice

51)          Maria Friedman

52)          Michael Ball

53)          John Barrowman

54)          Joshua Henry

55)          Tonya Pinkins

56)          Anika Noni Rose

57)          Tom Hewitt

58)          Michael Cerveris

59)          Donna Murphy

60)          Lillias White

61)          Kerry Butler

62)          Adam Pascal

63)          Anthony Rapp

64)          Nikki M. James

65)          Michael Park

66)          Kelli O’Hara

67)          B. D. Wong

68)          Roger Bart

69)          Michael K. Lee

70)          Lin-Manuel Miranda

71)          Christopher Jackson

72)          Ruthie Ann Miles

73)          Victoria Clark

74)          Patina Miller

75)          Matthew Morrison

76)          Brian d’Arcy James

77)          Laura Osnes

78)          Renée Elise Goldsberry

79)          Phillipa Soo

80)          Ann Harada

81)          Robin de Jesús

82)          Douglas Hodge

83)          Priscilla Lopez

84)          Celia Keenan-Bolger

85)          Andrew Keenan-Bolger

86)          Sierra Boggess

87)          Keala Settle

88)          Jason Danieley

89)          Marin Mazzie

90)          Rob Bartlett

91)          Jesse Tyler Ferguson

92)          Tracee Chimo

93)          Jessica Hecht

94)          Danny Burstein

95)          Darryl Winslow

96)          Jim Norton

97)          Lily Rabe

98)          Michael McCormick

99)          Jefferson Mays

100)       Mandy Patinkin

 Aaron Netsky writes the 366 Days/366 Musicals blog on tumblr (http://366days366musicals.tumblr.com), now in it's final month of daily posts, and he writes about culture and politics on his personal blog (http://cantonaut.blogspot.com). His writing has been published on ThoughtCatalog.com and TheHumanist.com, and you can follow him on Twitter @AaronNetsky.