Child stars who made it to Broadway

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Do you remember Olivia from The Cosby Show? The uber adorable little girl who stole scenes everywhere she went? Well, now she's a nun. On Broadway, that is. She's currently playing Deloris in the Broadway production of Sister Act.

Time will tell whether Raven-Symoné's time on the big stage proves successful. But overall, former child stars who make it to Broadway have had mixed results. Here are a few child stars who have made the leap, some who have soared and some who have flopped.

Daniel Radcliffe, Equus and How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying: The Harry Potter star first made waves on Broadway in Equus, a very not-appropriate-for-children production that was a stark departure from the role that made him famous (along with some disturbing subject matter, the role required him to appear fully nude onstage). Radcliffe received rave reviews for his performance, and last year he returned to Broadway as the lead in How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, for which he also received plenty of praise. I saw him in How to Succeed last summer, and he was amazing. Radcliffe's Broadway future seems pretty secure.


Worst actor transitions from movies to Broadway

Theatre stage

If you recall, last week I wrote a post about the most successful actors on film and on Broadway. You didn't think I'd let the flops go without notice, did you? Here are some of the worst attempts of famous actors to star in a Broadway production...none of them attempted a second.

Lucille Ball: I'm sure you know Lucille Ball as Lucy in I Love Lucy and probably several other characters in various movies. But you've probably never heard of her success on Broadway because, well, she didn't have any. In 1960, Ball starred in a musical called Wildcat. In it she played Wildcat "Wildy" Jackson, a woman who dreams of finding oil but doesn't know where to begin. The writer of the book had pictured a young woman in the lead role (whereas Lucille Ball was 48 years old), but when Ball committed funding to the project, he had to rework the show. The Broadway production only ran for 171 performances, due to lukewarm reviews, the fact that "Wildy" was not at all like Ball's I Love Lucy character, and the fact that she kept getting sick and audience members requested refunds in droves.


Best actors on both stage and screen

Theatre stage

This was originally going to be a post about the best actors on television or in movies to make a career transition to the theatre, but as I did more research it turns out that many of them actually started in the theatre and then made seamless transitions back and forth. So these are the chameleons that can act on film and onstage, despite the vast differences in the two mediums.

Matthew Broderick: Mr. Broderick has done his fair share of acting both onstage and in movies. He won a Tony Award when he was 21 with a featured role in Brighton Beach Memoirs (1983). But, of course, he is most famous for the movie that came soon after, 1986’s Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. This really shot him to stardom, and he continued to dabble in films for several years. In the last 15 years or so most of his work has been back onstage, including 1995’s How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying (for which he won a Tony) and 2001’s The Producers. His next project is Nice Work If You Can Get It, which begins previews March 29, 2012, at Imperial Theatre on Broadway.


Shortest running shows ever to hit Broadway

If you recall, a few weeks ago I posted a list of the longest running Broadway shows and promised to follow up with a list of the shows with the shortest runs. It turns out, there have been a LOT of really terrible shows with incredibly short runs. Here are my top picks:

10. High Fidelity

You've seen the movie, right? Well, this is a musical based on the novel upon which the movie is based. It should have been good, but it makes the top ten shortest runs on my list, as it closed in December 2006 after only 14 regular performances and 18 previews.

9. Elling

Elling was a play based on a Norwegian film of the same name, starring Brendan Fraser and Denis O'Hare. The story is of two mismatched roommates, ala "The Odd Couple." Despite a situation that's ripe with comedy, the play closed after only nine regular performances.


Longest running Broadway shows

Broadway is about to kick off a new season of shows, all of which I’m sure would like to become the next big thing that runs for 20+ years. And some shows that have only been around for a year, like Book of Mormon, look like they’ll have nice long runs. However, some newbies have a long way to go before they can top the list of the longest running shows of all time. Below, the top ten (as of today…check out #10).

1. The Phantom of the Opera

Total performances: 9795 (as of 8/14/2011)
Run dates: 1/25/1988–present

The Phantom of the Opera wins this category by a long shot, as it’s been running over 23 years and it’s still going strong. Audiences love the spectacle created by the massive chandelier and other special effects that set the mood for this musical, and the production also won 7 Tony Awards in its first year.

2. Cats

Total performances: 7485
Run dates: 10/7/1982–9/10/2000

Cats is one of those shows that you either love or hate, and it’s apparent that a lot of people loved it, considering the run lasted almost 18 years. Unfortunately, this show will probably lose its #2 spot at some point, since there are some close competitors that are still on Broadway.