Bebe Neuwirth is another legendary triple threat, not to mention a popular theatre performer with significant television and film experience. Why this woman doesn’t have more roles made available for her is a surprise to me.
While I have never seen Bebe Neuwirth on stage (or on television for that matter), what I love about her on recording (and from what I’ve seen in television performances of Broadway shows) is her trademark voice and wit. Many legendary theatre performers have been set apart by that something special, a unique voice or style of comedy. If Neuwirth had hit the scene in the 1950s, it’s no doubt she would have had shows tailored specifically for her plethora of talents.
My first major encounter with Neuwirth was as Lola on revival cast recording of Damn Yankees. On the disc she sounds great. I particularly love the dialogue prelude to her wonderful “Whatever Lola Wants." With her pasted-on accent delivering a fun libretto, it really is too fun for words. Her other tracks on the disc are tremendous fun as well, including the dance showcases “Who’s Got the Pain” and “Two Lost Souls.”
Her work in Chicago hardly needs a mention, but I will add that on the CD, she’s priceless. Here’s a role that almost seems written for her, and she’s such a great fit. I’m so thrilled to hear that she was able to tackle Roxie Hart.
Other treats related to Neuwirth’s talents include two great dance-heavy performances on the My Favorite Broadway concert DVDs. On The Leading Ladies, she duets with Karen Ziemba on “Nowadays/Hot Honey Rag” from Chicago and a charming “I’m a Brass Band” on The Love Songs, which showcases Neuwirth’s charming and endearing side.
On the bonus features for Rick McKay’s Broadway: The Golden Age, I love Neuwirth’s intelligent and passionate observations of Broadway and the state of theatre. In fact, when I made my first trip to Disneyland three years ago, I kept hearing her statement “Go to Disneyland if you want to see . . . [making robotic motions] this stuff happening. Go to Coney Island if you want a ride, wanna see a tire rising up. You go to the theatre for a much more human experience” looping through my head.
So, here’s to another major, under-utilized performer. Bebe Neuwirth, may another big role come your way soon.
Unofficial Website: http://www.geocities.com/bebeneuwirth_site/
the Broadway Mouth
September 7, 2007