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Dazzling Dames of Broadway  

Bonnie Weiss What makes for a great Broadway musical diva? To answer this question we’ll look at the lives and work of some of our most celebrated leading ladies of the stage musical. Using rare clips, footage and little known facts, we’ll explore the range and depth of their acting and singing talents - as well as the special magic that has launched each of these ladies into super stardom. More detail will be provided in the syllabus upon registration. Week 1. Ethel Merman - A look at her life, including rare video clips of her performances in her first musical Girl Crazy, her early movie musical shorts, her frustrating stint in Hollywood, her triumph in a number of her shows from “Anything Goes” to “Gypsy”. Week 2. Mary Martin - Her life, her early years in films, when she was known as "audition Mary" and appeared in such flicks as "Birth of the Blues" and "Star Spangled Rhythm"; her big break in Cole Porter's Leave it to Me; and her performances in such shows as One Touch of Venus, South Pacific, Peter Pan, and The Sound of Music. Week 3. Julie Andrews - Her early life as a child star in England, her U.S. debut, her rise to Broadway stardom and Hollywood super stardom, and her return to Broadway with Putting It Together and Victor Victoria. Week 4. Carol Channing - Her start in San Francisco, early career as a dancer, big break & legendary status, brief Hollywood stint followed by her charitable work for young artists. Gwen Verdon - early years as a Hollywood chorus dancer, and coach of stars; her big Broadway break, her legendary career with three Tony Awards and a nomination in Sweet Charity; and her last stint on Broadway in Chicago. Includes a very rare video clip with her husband, Bob Fosse. Week 5. Bernadette Peters - From a child Broadway performer to her Hollywood career, then her great triumph as a singer and dramatic actress with Sondheim and her Tony Award - winning performances. Week 6. A Bevy of Dazzling Dames - Including dancers Chita Rivera (West Side Story, Bye, Bye Byrdie and Ann Reinking (A Chorus Line, Chicago), Patti Lupone, (Evita), Angela Lansbury (Mame, Sweeney Todd) and Barbara Cook (Candide, The Music Man)...and an in-depth look at Bonnie’s Pick for the “Most Dazzling Dame of the First Quarter of the 21st Century...Audra McDonald. Bonnie Weiss, M.A. is a seasoned theatre educator and writer. She teaches musical theatre appreciation for OLLI at S.F. State, U.C. Berkeley and Santa Clara University, and for retirement communities, Road Scholar (Elderhostel) and professional groups throughout California. She has taught at S.F. Conservatory of Music, U.C. Berkeley Extension and the Colleges of Marin and San Mateo. She writes for The Sondheim Review and Stage Directions.


  • Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at San Francisco State University
    835 Market Street, Sixth Floor, San Francisco, CA 94103
    Phone: (415) 817-4243 Website: