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Home > The Buzz > Toast Rosie O’Donnell’s Return with Her Best Broadway Clips

Toast Rosie O’Donnell’s Return with Her Best Broadway Clips

October 13th, 2011

Sutton Foster on "The Rosie O'Donnell Show". Image via YouTube.

Gimme an “R-O-S-I-E”!

Rosie O’Donnell is back on the airwaves weeknights at 7pm on OWN with a brand new talk show. Although the name and place maybe be different (The Rosie Show airs live from Chicago), it looks like some things haven’t changed; she’s still Broadway’s biggest cheerleader. Tonight, smack dab during her big premiere week, she will make time to showcase the stars of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert in a medley of its disco hits…feather boas, platform shoes and all.

Whatever you may think of Rosie and her song & dance abilities (personally, I miss her mixture of exuberance, emotion and prickly wit), her old daytime talk show helped push musical theater back into the cultural mainstream long before Glee downloaded its first auto-tuned hit. Like a daily Tony Awards show, The Rosie O’Donnell show gave everyone outside New York City a taste of the talent that fills Broadway theaters each night. Heck, she probably single-handedly won a Tony Award for Titanic with her high-profile support.

So in honor of her return, let’s raise a glass to Rosie and watch a few of my favorite Broadway (and Off-Broadway) performances featured on her original series.

Sutton Foster, “Gimme Gimme”: A star is born. There were so many performances to choose from but, without even having to look, this is the one that I still remembered. I absolutely recall watching this moment on TV and being blown away by Foster’s voice and nimble interpretive chops. And if you ever want a textbook example of how to build a song, this is it.

Betty Buckley, “Serenity”: Can you tell I like my belters? Buckley imbues this material with such emotion and a clarity of storytelling — which is something given that the song is a bit of a wordy swirl as written. It’s always a joy to see her work her way around material, not just because the voice is so exciting, but because she cares about the acting of a song. There have been many imitators, but there is only one Betty Buckley.

John Cameron Mitchell, “Origin of Love”: Rosie O’Donnell put the glammed, hot pants-wearing, bleach-blonde, man-woman Hedwig on DAYTIME television!  Think about it. And luckily, Mitchell didn’t hold back from giving a rocking performance that certainly opened my eyes and ears to the wider possibilities of music theater. (It also didn’t hurt that I’d had a huge crush on him since I showed him around our alma mater, me as a student, him as a famous alumni…but that’s another story.)

There were so many great moments on Rosie’s show, I could have chosen a dozen more examples (Chenoweth doing “My Philosophy”, the entire cast of Ragtimeincluding a tween Lea Michelle–on one tiny stage, etc.). Share your favorites in the comments below…

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