Drama Desk Award winner Rachel York, who can currently be seen as Jackie in the new Broadway musical Disaster! at the Nederlander Theatre, shares the performances that most affected her as part of the audience.
Janet McTeer in A Doll's House
Janet McTeer's performance in Ibsen's A Doll’s House was absolutely riveting to me. I could not keep my eyes off of every interesting choice she made on the stage. She was a true inspiration to me as an actress.
August: Osage County on Broadway (as well as in Chicago) was one of those performances of a new play where you sense you are witnessing something great, a play destined to become a classic. The play invigorated me as an actress. Deanna Dunagan and Amy Morton reminded me of why I chose to become an actress in the first place.
The Pillowman also refreshed my passion for acting in the theater. I didn't expect to like The Pillowman with its subject matter, but that's why it was so brilliant. It won me over in spite of it. I was fascinated with how the writer, Martin McDonagh, was able to pull me in and encourage so many different and provocative emotions, not to mention, most surprisingly, laughter. McDonagh is a master of irony.
Faith Prince's amazing performance in Guys and Dolls taught me the art of stillness and polar opposites in comedy. She perfected that art and gave heart as well as multiple colors and acting layers to what could have easily been played as a one-track-minded, annoying character.
Tyne Daly blew me away as Mama Rose in the 1989 production of Gypsy. She gave the song “Rose's Turn” a sexual drive and a guttural desperation that was so raw and exciting. There were tears and cheers simultaneously from the audience. She was truly mesmerizing.
Michael Jeter in Grand Hotel
Michael Jeter in Grand Hotel was out of this world. It looked like he was dancing on air. He was so lovable and magical on stage.
Steven Boyer’s performance in Hand to God was beyond brilliant. He played two opposing characters simultaneously, something rarely done. His work as both characters was so layered and detailed physically and psychologically, not to mention hysterically funny and powerful.
Audra McDonald in Lady Day at Emerson's Bar & Grill
Before I saw Lady Day at Emerson's Bar & Grill, I thought, "Come on! Audra McDonald better not win the Tony again. Spread the wealth a little." After I saw her transformation as Billie Holiday with my own eyes, I said, "She DESERVES the Tony for that performance!"
Brian Dennehy in Death of a Salesman
Brian Dennehy's performance in the 1999 production of Death of a Salesman was awe-inspiring. He was playing my father on stage, down to the way he rubbed his hands and face. It was uncanny. I was incredibly moved by his performance.
Elizabeth Franz in Death of a Salesman
In acting class we are taught to "be." No "acting" please. Elizabeth Franz in Death of a Salesman mastered this effortlessly in her performance as Linda Loman in the 1999 production. Her performance was so simple, pure and organic in every moment. I feel blessed to have seen her work. She's the real deal.