Their Favorite Things: Allegiance Co-Creator Marc Acito Shares His Theatregoing Experiences

Favorite Things   Their Favorite Things: Allegiance Co-Creator Marc Acito Shares His Theatregoing Experiences
 
Marc Acito, who penned the best-selling comic novel "How I Paid for College: A Novel of Sex, Theft, Friendship and Musical Theater," is also the co-creator of the new Broadway musical Allegiance, which is currently playing the Longacre Theatre. The librettist shares the Broadway performances that most affected him as part of the audience.
Marc Acito
Marc Acito

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Geoffrey Holder's concept for The Wiz

The Cyclone was played by a woman with fabric unraveling from her turban; the Yellow Brick Road by four Solid Gold-style dancers. The theatricality of the surrealism captured my nine-year-old imagination and never let go.

Jeoffrey Holder and the cast of <i>The Wiz</i>
Jeoffrey Holder and the cast of The Wiz Photo by Martha Swope

The vulnerability of the kids in Runaways

There was a moment when a boy my age sang, "I am the undiscovered son of Judy Garland." I could identify because I was certain I was the secret love child of Liza Minnelli and Peter Allen.

Randy Ruiz and Diane Lane in <i>Runaways</i>
Randy Ruiz and Diane Lane in the original 1978 cast of Runaways. Photo by Martha Swope

The ending of Agnes of God

I was 16 and didn’t understand the end of the play, so I went to the stage door and asked if I could speak with Amanda Plummer. "No," came the answer, "but Miss Page will talk to you." So my high school friends and I were escorted into the dressing room of the legendary Geraldine Page, who graciously explained ambiguity to a trio of teens from New Jersey.

Geraldine Page
Geraldine Page

Yul Brynner's final performances in The King and I

I got to see one of Yul Brynner’s final performances as the King. The lung cancer that killed him a few months later prevented him from even performing "A Puzzlement." The show was also the first I saw after taking the late Charlie Willard’s dramaturgy class at Carnegie Mellon; Charlie gave me an appreciation for all of Hammerstein’s libretti that only grows deeper with time.

Mary Beth Peil and Yul Brynner in <i>The King and I</i>
Mary Beth Peil and Yul Brynner in The King and I Photo by Henry Grossman

The Lincoln Center Theater revival of The House of Blue Leaves 

I moved to New York in 1986 with everything I owned in two Hefty bags and $100 in my wallet. My first day, I spent $20 of it seeing John Guare’s nutty play because his writing captures the way I think.

Swoosie Kurtz and John Mahoney in <i>The House of Blue Leaves</i>
Swoosie Kurtz and John Mahoney in The House of Blue Leaves Photo by Brigitte Lacombe

The original London production of Miss Saigon 

Forget the helicopter, which felt like a theme-park attraction. What knocked me out was the simple ingenuity of the chain link fence, swirling around to become both the inside and the outside of the embassy compound. Also, a teenage sensation named Lea Salonga.

Jonathan Pryce in <i>Miss Saigon</i>
Jonathan Pryce in Miss Saigon Photo by M Le Poer Trench/Rex Features

Bernadette Peters and Elaine Stritch in the revival of A Little Night Music 

Front row, no orchestra pit. I had just moved back to New York after a 24-year exile, and I resisted the urge to kiss the hem of their gowns at the curtain call. Both ladies created idiosyncratic, intelligent, fully-dimensional human beings. I would have stayed there forever if allowed.

Elaine Stritch and Bernadette Peters in <i>A Little Night Music</i>, 2010
Elaine Stritch and Bernadette Peters in A Little Night Music, 2010 Photo by Joan Marcus

Joshua Henry in The Scottsboro Boys 

Somewhere there exists an island of dull, ugly, misshapen and uncoordinated people because there is no other explanation for how Joshua Henry can be so gifted. I want to write a show for him. And one for Audra McDonald; and Christian Borle; and Laura Benanti. I’d better get cracking.

Joshua Henry and company in <i>The Scottsboro Boys</i>
Joshua Henry and company in The Scottsboro Boys Paul Kolnik

Joe Mantello's direction of I'll Eat You Last: A Chat with Sue Mengers

A totally underrated play, production and performance. Bette Midler barely moved the entire time yet held my attention every second. Plus, it was my first Broadway opening-night party—a star-studded glamfest thrown by Vanity Fair’s Graydon Carter at the Russian Tea Room.

Bette Midler
Bette Midler Photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

Marianne Elliott’s production is simply everything I want theater to be: imaginative, moving, thought-provoking, suspenseful, uplifting. I would go every week if I could—like church.

<i>The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time</i>
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time Photo by Joan Marcus
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