Come From Away Star Jim Walton’s 10 Favorite Theatregoing Experiences

Favorite Things   Come From Away Star Jim Walton’s 10 Favorite Theatregoing Experiences
 
The Broadway veteran reflects on his favorite stage performances, including those given by Elaine Stritch, Gregory Hines, and more.
Favorite_Things_Graphic_ Jim Walton.jpg

Broadway veteran Jim Walton, who created the role of Franklin Shepard in the original Broadway production of Stephen Sondheim’s Merrily We Roll Along, returned to the New York stage last November in the Tony-winning Come From Away at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre. Walton, who plays the role of Nick, has also been seen on Broadway in Sunset Boulevard, Stardust, Sweeney Todd, The Music Man, Guys and Dolls, Bye Bye Birdie, The Mystery of Edwin Drood, On the Twentieth Century, 42nd Street, Perfectly Frank, and She Loves Me. (Walton's niece, Emily Walton, recently joined him in the cast of the critically acclaimed Come From Away.)

We recently asked the Broadway favorite to pen a list of his most memorable theatregoing experiences. Walton’s choices follow.

Len Cariou in Sweeney Todd

Angela Lansbury and Len Cariou in <i>Sweeney Todd</i>
Angela Lansbury and Len Cariou in Sweeney Todd Martha Swope

A bravura performance in one of my all-time favorite musicals. He actually scared me during the great “Epiphany.”

Gregory Hines in Sophisticated Ladies

Gregory Hines_lookback_HR
Gregory Hines and Judith Jamison in Sophisticated Ladies Martha Swope/©NYPL for the Performing Arts

This man’s versatility and joy in performing was a huge highlight through Act One. And, I believe Act Two began with him playing the drums. Amazing!

Lonny Price in “MASTER HAROLD”… and the boys

Lonny Price, Zakes Mokae, and Danny Glover
Lonny Price, Zakes Mokae, and Danny Glover Martha Swope/New York Public Library

I confess I’m partial to colleagues, but Lonny’s emotional range was on full display in this amazing show.

Chip Zien in Into the Woods

Danielle Ferland, Ben Wright, Kim Crosby, Chip Zien and Bernadette Peters in Into the Woods.
Danielle Ferdland, Ben Wright, Kim Crosby, Chip Zien and Bernadette Peters in Into the Woods. Martha Swope / The New York Public Library

Or really, Chip Zien in anything. He’s such a natural actor, and always a lesson to observe, hilarious and heartbreaking in this.

Boyd Gaines in The Heidi Chronicles

Joan Allen and Boyd Gaines in <i>The Heidi Chronicles</i>
Joan Allen and Boyd Gaines in The Heidi Chronicles Gerry Goodstein

Again, Boyd Gaines in anything is worth seeing. I first saw him in this phenomenal Wendy Wasserstein play.

Donna Murphy in Passion

Jere Shea and Donny Murphy in Passion.
Jere Shea and Donna Murphy in Passion Joan Marcus

Her brave performance led me to reflect on the nature of love, of falling in love, of why and how those connections happen. What a talent.

Elaine Stritch in Elaine Stritch At Liberty

Elaine Stritch in <i>At Liberty </i>
Elaine Stritch in At Liberty

I admired her courage to take on a one-person show in her later years. She was absolutely brilliant.

Noah Racey in Never Gonna Dance

Noah Racey and Nancy Lemenager in <i>Never Gonna Dance</i>
Noah Racey and Nancy Lemenager in Never Gonna Dance

Noah gave what I still feel to be the best song-and-dance man performance on a Broadway stage in this sadly short-lived musical.

Beth Leavel in The Drowsy Chaperone

Bob Martin and Beth Leavel
Bob Martin and Beth Leavel Joan Marcus

Beth is so talented and hilarious. Her performance and this musical are what musical comedy is all about.

Reed Birney in A Small Fire

Michele Pawk and Reed Birney
Michele Pawk and Reed Birney

This man is an amazing actor. Though I’ve seen him in numerous plays, his performance in this, opposite the great Michele Pawk, was just outstanding.

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