Their Favorite Things: Beauty's Original Belle, Susan Egan, Shares Her Theatregoing Experiences

Favorite Things   Their Favorite Things: Beauty's Original Belle, Susan Egan, Shares Her Theatregoing Experiences
 
Playbill.com's feature series Their Favorite Things asks members of the theatre community to share the Broadway performances that most affected them as part of the audience. This week we spotlight the choices of Susan Egan, who received a Tony nomination for creating the role of Belle in the original Broadway company of Beauty and the Beast and will release her seventh solo recording, entitled "Softly," next month.
Susan Egan
Susan Egan Photo by Kevyn Major Howard

 * 

Original Cast of Into the Woods

I can't pick a single performer here, but I was a senior in high school and in the second row for this performance, where it seemed Danielle Ferland might at any moment drop the dagger that killed the wolf onto my head. From Chip Zien to Robert Westenberg, Bernadette to Joanna Gleason ... perfection. I've worked with many of these folks at this point, and still fangirl them in their presence — it's embarrassing.

Danielle Ferland, Ben Wright, Kim Crosby, Chip Zien and Bernadette Peters in <i>Into the Woods</i>
Danielle Ferland, Ben Wright, Kim Crosby, Chip Zien and Bernadette Peters in Into the Woods Photo by Martha Swope

It's a tie between Kelli O'Hara in The Bridges of Madison County and Audra McDonald in anything she has ever done

I was simply in love with Kelli's voice and presence throughout. Just love, like a warm rain.… Whether working with Audra or watching from the audience — that soul and voice just hits my solar plexus. No words — just so satisfying!

Kelli O'Hara in <i>The Bridges of Madison County</i>
Kelli O'Hara in The Bridges of Madison County Photo by Joan Marcus

Marc Kudisch in Thoroughly Modern Millie 

The memory alone makes me laugh out loud. I've known Marc for years (we got our Equity Cards together) but to see him embrace the ridiculous Trevor Graydon so completely — ah, what sweet mystery of life!  Total commitment — no wink or nudge; comedy perfection.

Sutton Foster and Marc Kudisch in <i>Thoroughly Modern Millie</i>
Sutton Foster and Marc Kudisch in Thoroughly Modern Millie Photo by Joan Marcus

Eileen Atkins in A Room of One's Own

I was in rehearsals for Bye, Bye Birdie in 1991, and Ann Reinking (also in the cast) assigned me to go see this play. Ms. Atkins' performance as Virginia Woolf and the content of the play were so empowering and inspiring, as was/is Ms. Reinking, by the way!

Eileen Atkins in <i>A Room of One's Own</i>
Eileen Atkins in A Room of One's Own

Laura Linney and Liam Neeson in The Crucible 

Seeing this play immediately post 9/11 ... We all sat enraptured in that space as these two masters took us on the heart-breaking ride. It's difficult to describe the experience adequately, other than I was grateful to be in their inspired and capable hands as we all channeled our grief.

Liam Neeson, Brian Murray and Laura Linney in <i>The Crucible</i>
Liam Neeson, Brian Murray and Laura Linney in The Crucible Photo by Joan Marcus

Original cast of Cabaret revival (1998)

I sat in the balcony and was introduced to the mind-blowing performance of Alan Cumming, who, along with the entire cast was brilliant, but I walked away thinking to myself, "Sam Mendes is the star of that production." Later, doing the show for 18 months, I understand how true that was. His insight (along with Rob Marshall!) took this beautiful show to new depths, and the actors to great heights.

Alan Cumming and company in the 1998 production of <i>Cabaret</i>
Alan Cumming and company in the 1998 production of Cabaret

Derek Jacobi in Breaking the Code 

This performance of Mr. Jacobi as Alan Turing still lives with me. It's been well over 20 years, and I actually think about it often! I acknowledge that last year's film, "The Imitation Game," and actor Benedict Cumberbatch were extraordinary, but still cannot capture what Mr. Jacobi did live, night after night!

Derek Jacobi in <i>Breaking the Code</i>
Derek Jacobi in Breaking the Code

Gary Beach in Beauty and the Beast

I watched his performance as Lumiere night after night, standing right next to him. Gary is pure joy. He ignites a cast, an audience, a production and becomes the life-force, amplifying everyone's energy into something magical. He was the spark — it was in his eye every night, and the rest of us just tried to keep up.

Gary Beach in <i>Beauty and the Beast</i>
Gary Beach in Beauty and the Beast Photo by Joan Marcus

I haven't seen Hamilton yet, so I've been told I should reserve the space.

The cast of <i>Hamilton</i>
The cast of Hamilton Photo by Joan Marcus
Today’s Most Popular News: