THEIR FAVORITE THINGS: Broadway Composer Frank Wildhorn Shares His Theatregoing Experiences

Favorite Things   THEIR FAVORITE THINGS: Broadway Composer Frank Wildhorn Shares His 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 Tony-nominated composer Frank Wildhorn, who will be joined by several of his Broadway stars for 54 Below Celebrates Frank Wildhorn Dec. 2-6 at the intimate Manhattan nightspot.

Frank Wildhorn
Frank Wildhorn

Herschel Bernardi in Fiddler on the Roof

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I was 14 years old when I saw my first show. It was in Miami Beach, and I was living in Hollywood, FL at the time. So full of life, so soulful! To this day, I remember his performance so clearly, and it had an incredible effect on me. 

"West Side Story" and "Jesus Christ Superstar" Films

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When I was 15, I was sick at home one day, and I saw the movie versions of West Side Story and Jesus Christ Superstar back to back. In seeing those films back to back, I heard so many musical vocabularies, from jazz to classical to pop to Latin, all done differently and so well. I was just teaching myself piano at the time, and I'll never forget the feeling I had knowing that theatre was a place that was so open to so many different musical vocabularies to play with.

Les Misérables (Original Broadway Cast)

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The original cast of Les Misérables on Broadway featured so many great performances, led by the incredibly soulful Colm Wilkinson, who I fell so in love with that I asked him to do the first concept recording of Jekyll & Hyde. Terry Mann's Javert! Randy Graff's Fantine! Everyone just blew me away. It was really a one-in-a-million cast.

Stew and His Band from Passing Strange

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Passing Strange was the hippest, most electric night of theatre I've ever seen. Taking pop, rock, R&B, and gospel, and making it so dramatic and theatrical was just brilliant.

Len Cariou and Angela Lansbury in Sweeney Todd

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Len Cariou and Angela Lansbury at the Uris (now Gershwin) Theatre in Sweeney Todd. An unforgettable night! It was Tim Burton before there was Tim Burton!

Evita (Original Broadway Cast)

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Hal Prince's direction and staging for the original production of Evita was incredibly imaginative. Patti LuPone's Evita and Mandy Patinkin's Che were just fantastic.

Sunday in the Park with George

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Going in, I had no idea what to expect, but coming out, I knew I had seen something important. Mandy Patinkin and Bernadette Peters' performances were moving and beautiful.

Frank Langella in Dracula

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I actually saw him perform the show in LA while I was still a student at USC. I immediately went home after and looked for a dramatic, sexy, gothic story that I could tell theatrically on my own. I found a small book by Robert Louis Stevenson called "The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde."

Personal and Special Performances

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I can't leave out some of the performances that are so personal and special to me: Douglas Sills as The Scarlet Pimpernel, Jeremy Jordan & Laura Osnes as Bonnie & Clyde, the amazing collection of souls and voices in The Civil War, Christiane Noll as the original Emma, Bob Cuccioli's unbelievable and passional performance as the good Doctor and his alter ego, and every time Linda Eder opens her mouth to sing...it doesn't get better than that!

Other Unforgettable Moments

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Other unforgettable favorite moments: Seeing Ben Vereen sing and move on stage for the first time. Annie Reinking embodying Mr. Fosse's genius. Any 4 bar phrase by Mr. Bernstein. Every unforgettable vamp by Mr. Kander.

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