Judy Kaye Shares Her Theatregoing Experiences

Favorite Things   Judy Kaye Shares Her Theatregoing Experiences The two-time Tony winner says she is a "composite of every performance I have ever witnessed."
Judy Kaye
Judy Kaye Monica Simoes

Two-time Tony winner Judy Kaye, who can currently be seen playing Madame Morrible in the international hit musical Wicked at Broadway's Gershwin Theatre, shares the performances that most affected her as part of the audience.

Colleen Dewhurst in A Moon for the Misbegotten

Colleen Dewhurst in <i>A Moon for the Misbegotten</i>
Colleen Dewhurst in A Moon for the Misbegotten Martha Swope

Passionate and human. I finally got to cruise with her for The Theatre Guild and know her as the indefatigable president of Actors’ Equity Association. What a woman and artist!

Len Cariou in Sweeney Todd

Angela Lansbury and Len Cariou in Sweeney Todd.
Angela Lansbury and Len Cariou in Sweeney Todd.

Thrilling and heartbreaking! He had me pinned to my seat at the then Uris Theater, with fear and sensuality. He still does. I had the supreme joy of playing Lovett opposite him in London, a dream come true. His recent, brilliant stint in his one-man show Broadway and the Bard confirmed what I have always believed. Len Cariou is the finest actor in the English-speaking world.

Angela Lansbury in Sweeney Todd

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

She is always wonderful. Always! But, her Lovett remains the model for which all of us strive. Funny. Dangerous. And, altogether marvelous. I want to be her when I grow up.

Barbra Streisand in Funny Girl

Johnny Desmond and Barbra Streisand in Funny Girl.
Johnny Desmond and Barbra Streisand in Funny Girl. Friedman-Abeles / The New York Public Library

I came to NYC for a visit, already smitten with the theatre. I sat in the first row of the mezzanine at the Winter Garden Theatre and was taken completely away by her astonishing performance. I felt like I really knew her. And, years later (before playing Rosie in Mamma Mia! at that theatre), while I was playing Emma Goldman in Ragtime (at the now deceased Shubert Theatre in L.A.), she visited my dressing room after the performance. I still can't get over that.

Carole Shelley in The Play's the Thing at BAM

Carole Shelley
Carole Shelley Joseph Marzullo/WENN

I was preparing to understudy Madeline Kahn in On the 20th Century, and I saw Ms. Shelley in her glorious performance as the great actress Ilona. Carole so completely inhabited the role, a role not unlike Lily Garland, that it gave me courage to go for it, so to speak. And so, when the time came, I did. Thank you forever, Carole Shelley.

Larry Kert in Company

Larry Kert and company in Company.
Larry Kert and company in Company.

His performance gave me such longing, that an actor could have such an effect on an audience. And, he was one of the funniest, most irreverent people I ever knew. After years of working with him, sailing the wide world with him for The Theater Guild, and knowing him, I still miss him terribly.

Brian Stokes Mitchell in Ragtime

Audra McDonald and Brian Stokes Mitchell in <i>Ragtime</i>
Audra McDonald and Brian Stokes Mitchell in Ragtime Catherine Ashmore

His performance of Coalhouse, observed from both the house and from the wings, gave me such joy! His braverism, as Madame Morrible says, in that classic and timeless piece of American culture, forever secured his place as a major star of the American theater.

Donald Corren in Souvenir

Donald Corren and Judy Kaye
Donald Corren and Judy Kaye Carol Rosegg

While many in the audience of that wonderful play by Stephen Temperley thought that it was a one-woman show about the famously bad singer Florence Foster Jenkins, it was actually a play about Cosme McMoon, her brave and steadfast accompanist, and his relationship with the lady. Of course, my observations of Donald’s work were from beside him. But, he was, from every angle, perfection in every way.

Audra McDonald in Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill

Audra McDonald in <i>Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar &amp; Grill</i>
Audra McDonald in Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill Photo by Evgenia Eliseeva

Of course, every performance of hers is perfection. No news there. But, each performance is so fully realized. She is a tower of strength and vulnerability all at once.

Steven Boyer in Hand to God

Steven Boyer in <i>Hand to God</i>
Steven Boyer in the Broadway production of Hand to God Joan Marcus

Truly a brave and fully realized performance. I can't wait to see what else he brings our way!

I've run out of space, but I must mention:

Michael Cerveris and Sydney Lucas in <i>Fun Home</i>
Michael Cerveris and Sydney Lucas in Fun Home Joan Marcus

Sydney Lucas in Fun Home
Michael Cerveris in Fun Home
Judy Kuhn in Fun Home
Zero Mostel in Fiddler on the Roof
The entire cast of Hamilton, you have changed everything!!!!
In truth, I am a composite of every performance I have ever witnessed.

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