Jose Llana Shares His Favorite Theatregoing Experiences

Favorite Things   Jose Llana Shares His Favorite Theatregoing Experiences What performance caused the singing actor to nearly faint?
Jose Llana
Jose Llana

Jose Llana, who recently completed his latest stint as the King of Siam in the Tony-winning revival of The King and I, releases his debut solo recording, Altitude, May 13 on the Yellow Sound Label. Here, the acclaimed singing actor, who will celebrate the new CD with a concert May 16 at Joe's Pub, reveals the performances that most affected him as part of the audience.

Audra McDonald and Zoe Caldwell in Master Class (1996)

Audra McDonald and Zoe Caldwell
Audra McDonald and Zoe Caldwell Joseph Marzullo/WENN

I was in my first week of rehearsals for the ‘96 King and I when I saw this glorious production. Having just left conservatory (Manhattan School of Music), the play was profoundly familiar and overwhelming to me at the same time. Also, Audra + Zoe + Terrence McNally = Done.

Donna Murphy & Lou Diamond Phillips in The King and I (1996)

Donna Murphy and Lou Diamond Phillips in The King and I.
Donna Murphy and Lou Diamond Phillips in The King and I. Joan Marcus

I could not have had better mentors than Donna Murphy and Lou Diamond Phillips. They led by example in so many ways – with their talent, humility and leadership of the company.

Tonya Pinkins in Caroline, or Change (2004)

Tonya Pinkins in <i>Caroline, or Change</i>
Tonya Pinkins in Caroline, or Change Michal Daniel

“Lot’s Wife” was one of the first times I ever audibly screamed from the audience mid-song. Jeanine Tesori’s score along with Anika Noni Rose, Public Theater – stunning.

Victoria Clark & Kelli O'Hara in The Light In the Piazza (2005)

Victoria Clark and Kelli O&#39;Hara in <i>The Light in the Piazza</i>
Victoria Clark and Kelli O'Hara in The Light in the Piazza Joan Marcus

Adam Guettel’s score and those stunning performances made me want to up my game as a singer.

Danny Burstein in The Drowsy Chaperone (2006)

Danny Burstein and Beth Leavel in <i>The Drowsy Chaperone</i>
Danny Burstein and Beth Leavel in The Drowsy Chaperone Photo by Joan Marcus

His comedy and timing are so brilliant. Also, the amount of joy that emitted from him onstage was so inspiring.

Amy Morton in August: Osage County (2007)

Jeff Perry and Amy Morton in <i>August: Osage County </i>
Jeff Perry and Amy Morton in August: Osage County

Her Act 2 closing line, “I’m running things now!” is one of the most thrilling moments of theater I’d ever experienced.

Benjamin Walker in Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson (2010)

The cast of <i>Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson</i>
The cast of Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson Joan Marcus

This was my introduction to Alex Timbers and Michael Friedman, and it blew me away. It’s exactly the kind of theater I want to be a part of.

Celia Keenan-Bolger in The Glass Menagerie (2013)

Cherry Jones and Celia Keenan-Bolger in <i>The Glass Menagerie </i>
Cherry Jones and Celia Keenan-Bolger in The Glass Menagerie Michael J. Lutch

When Celia appeared out of that sofa, I nearly fainted. Gorgeous work.

Ann Harada in Cinderella (2013)

Harriet Harris, Ann Harada, Marla Mindelle and Laura Osnes in <i>Cinderella</i>
Harriet Harris, Ann Harada, Marla Mindelle and Laura Osnes in Cinderella Carol Rosegg

The comic brilliance of Ann Harada and a shining example of brave casting.

Ruthie Ann Miles in Here Lies Love

Ruthie Ann Miles
Ruthie Ann Miles in Here Lies Love Joan Marcus

Her performance was filled with steel and truth. The weight of responsibility in singing more than half of the score was a lesson in stamina. I was honored to have a front-row seat in witnessing the birth of a star.

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