Broadway and SNL: Ten Broadway Stars Who Should Host
With Lin-Manuel Miranda poised to host Saturday Night Live, our nation’s most well-known and enduring sketch comedy show, I thought it might be interesting to suggest a few other faces from the Great White Way who would make fabulous hosts of the show. Broadway stars so seldom get the opportunity to show off their comedic talents to a larger viewing audience than the mere numbers a Broadway theatre can hold. Many great television and movie comedians of yesteryear have also spent time on Broadway AND appeared on SNL. But who of the contemporary theatre world would be good for a night of riotous laughter and a great opening monologue? Though it is very unlikely to happen to many (Hamilton is, after all, a national phenomenon and pop culture anomaly that has lifted Miranda and Hamilton into the stratosphere of iconic stardom), here are a few Broadway stars who I think would be up to the challenge:
Live from New York, it’s Saturday night… starring…
Anyone who follows her Twitter account, or anyone who has seen her impressions of Donald Trump's (latest) wife, knows that Laura Benanti is one of the funniest people out there. Her daffy performance in the musical Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown is also an excellent example of how she can play the broad comedy required for a show like SNL. And really, who doesn't love Laura Benanti? Her versatility and total commitment to any role would shine in a Carol Burnett-type lunacy when applied to sketch comedy.
This list needs a first-rate diva, and no one quite fits that bill quite like diva extraordinaire Patti LuPone. She can be deliciously self-deprecating while commanding total worship, often at the same time. TV audiences would revel in her style. I bet they could even work in a sketch where she eviscerates a studio audience member for using their cell phone during her opening monologue. Ms. Patti is a beloved icon of the musical stage: infinitely versatile and possessing a powerful dry wit. She can do this in her sleep!
She's quirky and she's talented and that combination has made her a star of stage, and to a lesser extent, of TV. From her Tony-winning tour-de-farce as Sally Brown in You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown to her delightfully dippy Glinda in Wicked, Chenoweth navigates the ins and outs of humor with an ease and precision that are unparalleled. She would be a scream playing off of and blending in with SNL's talented ensemble. She guest-starred several times on TV’s Glee (to comedic effect), and always seamlessly became one of that ensemble.
We all know she can play just about anything. Her multiple, record-breaking Tony Award wins are proof that she has an ease of versatility and that something extra that simply appeals to audiences. Sketch comedies require performers with an eclectic ability, and boy has she proven she is capable of that. Many people also swoon over her voice, so maybe she could also be the musical guest? Broadway fans will explode with excitement.
I’m a particular fan of his web series Submissions Only, finding an off-beat wit and a charming personality to both be a big part of Andrew Keenan-Bolger’s arsenal. This star of Newsies and Tuck Everlasting is youthful, energetic, and refreshingly original. Perhaps he is better suited as a writer for SNL, but there is something in his timing and ease with comedy that make me think he could reel us in as the host.
This bodacious lady just gets more and more fun with time, and though she spent some years dazzling us as an ingenue, it's with the character roles that we think she particularly shines. She's equal parts comedy and drama (think back to Billy Elliott on Broadway and Merrily We Roll Along at The Kennedy Center) and we admire her broad talent range. She can do just about anything, so SNL would be a great showcase for all of it!
Ms. Finneran has done much to prove herself as an adept stage comedienne over the years, from her award-winning work in Noises Off to Promises, Promises. She knows how to steal a show, and isn't that what a good SNL host should do? Finneran is just wacky enough to have fun with a bevy of over-the-top characters. SNL would be a great way to spread the word about this amazing actress to the masses.
Avenue Q was, in many ways, like a really clever sketch comedy organized into a situation comedy-musical a la puppets. Ann Harada was, in my book, the stand out nut job in a kooky ensemble. Her performance as Christmas Eve still has me laughing all these years later. Please let her unleash her skills on SNL. I'm convinced there is so much untapped hilarity waiting to be released by this lady!
With his escalating fame resulting from the Netflix series The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, it is only a matter of time before Tituss Burgess hosts SNL. Let's begin the petition for him to do it now! He is great at larger-than-life, hysterically -charged characters and he'd be a whirlwind of fresh air on SNL. His Sebastian the crab was a highlight of The Little Mermaid on Broadway, and anyone who can wear that costume and make it work has the skills to excel in the world of sketch comedy!
Okay - I guess he's not exactly a Broadway star, per se, but he so lovingly lampoons Broadway and its great divas in his webcast that I am confident that he can represent the Great White Way for an SNL host turn. In fact, his writing is so hilarious (and often spoofs showtunes) that we should also assign him to write the episode. Let's face it, sometimes SNL is hit or miss with their sketch writing. Mr. Rainbow NEVER misses!