Anastasia's Derek Klena Shares His Favorite Theatregoing Experiences

Favorite Things   Their Favorite Things: Anastasia's Derek Klena Shares His Favorite Theatregoing Experiences Which “complex and intricate” production left the singing actor “stunned”?
Derek Klena
Derek Klena Joseph Marzullo/WENN

Derek Klena, whose Broadway credits include Bridges of Madison County and Wicked, is currently playing Dmitry in Anastasia, the new musical from Lynn Ahrens, Stephen Flaherty and Terrence McNally at Hartford Stage. Here, the singing actor shares the theatregoing experiences that most affected him as part of the audience.

Mark Rylance in Jerusalem

Mark Rylance in <i>Jerusalem</i>
Mark Rylance in Jerusalem Photo by Simon Annand

I will never forget watching Mark Rylance race around the stage and exert himself the way he did during the course of this show. The way he transforms in everything he does blows me away.

Ben Platt in Dear Evan Hansen

Dear Evan Hansen HR01.jpg
Ben Platt Matthew Murphy

Not only is Ben one of the nicest guys in the world, but he stuns the audience every night with this heart-wrenching performance while hitting “B’s” flawlessly…and sobbing…and standing on one foot. I haven’t seen him do the “standing on one foot” part...but I’m sure he can. Him singing Benj Pasek and Justin Paul’s ridiculous score brought me to tears multiple times.

Joe Mantello and Ellen Barkin in The Normal Heart

The company of <i>The Normal Heart</i>
The company of The Normal Heart Joan Marcus

Such a powerful play, ensemble of actors, if you delete and message. Watching Joe expertly drive this emotional rollercoaster of a show and Ellen Barkin captivate the audience with her strength and resilience was an experience I will never forget.

Laurie Metcalf in The Other Place

Laurie Metcalf in <i>The Other Place</i>
Laurie Metcalf in The Other Place Joan Marcus

Such an amazingly complex and intricate show that left me stunned. Laurie Metcalf is ridiculous.

Lin-Manuel Miranda in In the Heights

Lin-Manuel Miranda and company in In The Heights.
Lin-Manuel Miranda and company in In The Heights. Joan Marcus

I remember going to see this with my family twice because we loved it so much. One of the shows and performances that really inspired me to want to be on Broadway one day. Watching Lin’s eyes well up with tears as he sang out “I’m home” in the last few moments gave me goosebumps.

Christian Borle in Peter and the Starcatcher

Christian Borle in <i>Peter and the Starcatcher </i>
Christian Borle in Peter and the Starcatcher

I have probably never laughed harder in a theater than I did when Christian Borle, aka Black Stashe, lost his hand to that treasure chest. He’s a genius. Such a brilliantly imaginative and creative show.

The Entire Cast of The Scottsboro Boys

Joshua Henry and the cast of <i>Scottsboro Boys</i>
Joshua Henry and the cast of Scottsboro Boys Paul Kolnik

From Josh Henry singing his face off, to Colman Domingo and Forrest McClendon’s physical comedy and dark grounded strength bringing life to so many tough characters, I was awestruck by the performances. I vividly remember the cast just standing there silently on that stage for what seemed like a minute, while tears streamed down each one of their faces. It was such a powerful, moving moment.

Steven Boyer in Hand to God

Steven Boyer in <i>Hand to God</i>
Steven Boyer in Hand to God Joan Marcus

When you are watching something and forget that an actor is not only playing a person, but also a possessed puppet demon at the same time, you know you are witnessing something special. What a crazy, amazing ride.

Audra McDonald in Porgy and Bess

Audra McDonald in <i>The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess</i>
Audra McDonald in The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess Michael J. Lutch

Watching the juggernaut that is Audra McDonald be thrown across the stage while singing and acting to perfection is something that I will never quite figure out….

Leslie Odom, Jr. in Hamilton

Leslie Odom, Jr in <i>Hamilton </i>
Leslie Odom, Jr in Hamilton Joan Marcus

Yep. It was that good. Every nuance and syllable is written and performed to perfection, and Leslie basically gives a master class in presence on stage. The entire company and show is a piece of art.

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