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Musicals

Vaudeville in the United States

It would only begin to tell the larger story of how and why Jewish women and vaudeville came to intersect as they did in the early decades of the twentieth century.

Theater in the United States

For over a hundred years, Jewish women have been involved in the American theater as writers, actors, directors, designers and producers. The vitality of the Yiddish theater, the splendor of Broadway, the rich tapestry of the regional theater—and everything in between—all owe a debt to the Jewish women who have given of their talents, their energy, their drive, and their dreams.

Helen Tamiris

Helen Tamiris was a leader in forming American modern dance. An acclaimed choreographer and director, she used dance to comment on the social issues of her day, including racism, poverty, and war.

Sylvia Blagman Syms

Sylvia Syms’s dynamic saloon performances were characterized by an intimate storytelling style and a grainy contralto voice combined with honesty, a “been-there” aura, and a genuine love of the connection with her audience. She was touted as one of the best contributors to her genre by such noteworthy peers as Cy Coleman, Billie Holiday, Frank Sinatra, and Duke Ellington.

Barbra Streisand

Barbra Streisand is more than another consumer-culture icon. She is a diva, a superstar, a sensation. Since the 1960s, she has won more varied awards (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, special Tony, Golden Globe, CableACE, Peabody) than anyone else in show business, and has sold over sixty-eight million records, more records than any other female singer.

Molly Picon

A drunk’s dare to a five-year-old on a trolley car initiated the career of Molly Picon, the petite darling of the Yiddish musical theater.

Wendy Wasserstein

In 1989, with her play The Heidi Chronicles, she won a Pulitzer Prize and became the first woman to receive the Tony Award for Best Play.

Julie Taymor

Julie Taymor's years of work in theater, opera, film and television and her frequent use of masks and puppets, as well as Asian forms, won her a 1997 Tony Award for The Lion King—the first "Directing" Tony given to a woman in the fifty-year history of the Awards.

Tess Slesinger

Novelist and Hollywood screenwriter Tess Slesinger was born in New York on July 16, 1905. She published several works, including: The Unpossessedand Time: The Present. Slesinger died of cancer at age thirty-nine before the premiere of one of her final works, the acclaimed A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.

Vivienne Segal

A talented singer/actor and superb comedian, Vivienne Segal enjoyed a lengthy career. She was best known for her role as Vera Simpson, the older woman in love with the “heel,” Joey (played by Gene Kelly), in the 1940 Rodgers and Hart musical Pal Joey.

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How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Musicals." (Viewed on November 16, 2018) <https://jwa.org/topics/musicals>.

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