Their Favorite Things: Gentleman's Guide Star Judy Blazer Shares Her Theatregoing Experiences

Favorite Things   Their Favorite Things: Gentleman's Guide Star Judy Blazer 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 singing actress Judy Blazer, who recently stepped into the role of Miss Shingle in the Tony-winning Best Musical A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder at the Walter Kerr Theatre.

Judy Blazer
Judy Blazer

Lynne Thigpen in Tintypes

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Such an unusual, warm, powerful and one-of-a-kind performance….I remember loving her in this piece…and the piece itself….and Jerry Zaks as an actor, back then!

David Rounds as Homer in Morning's at Seven 

David Rounds and Lois De Banzie in <i>Morning's at Seven</i>
David Rounds and Lois De Banzie in Morning's at Seven

The play and the performances were ALL stellar in that piece — I sat up close to the stage with my mother. David Rounds' performance was so funny and touching and other-worldly. What a loss, to think he only lived to 53 and all the great things he’d have given us….

Madeline Kahn, Gorgeous in Wendy Wasserstein’s The Sisters Rosensweig 

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Photo by Martha Swope

A wonderful play, can’t believe BOTH she and Wendy are gone. Her performance in this play boggled the mind…..she had a monologue that had me at the edge of my seat as though I was watching someone dive backwards off a cliff. She was one of my top favorites in all of theater and film.

Reg Rogers as Ned in Holiday

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A terrific production of an old play written in the late 20’s, by Phillip Barry. Reg’s character was a sad alcoholic, and I was profoundly touched by his funny/sad human portrayal of this hopeless fellow in a classically dysfunctional setting. He was heartbreaking.

Gregory Hines as Jelly Roll Morton in Jelly's Last Jam 

Gregory Hines (R) with Savion Glover in <i>Jelly's Last Jam</i>
Gregory Hines (R) with Savion Glover in Jelly's Last Jam Photo by Martha Swope

I always had a huge crush on Greg Hines….he was warm, endearing, humble and sexy and easy on stage and when he danced…..it seemed as though his feet were always two inches off the floor and that he was making it all up in the moment.

Roger Rees as Nicholas Nickleby in The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby 

Rees in The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby
Rees in The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby

No explanation needed here: A young Roger in an extraordinary Dickensian tale of epic proportion and it was a heart-wrenching performance on his part…not to mention he was surrounded by AMAZING actors in a revolutionary eight-hour play….I would be remiss if I didn’t mention David Threlfall as Smike, the abused, crippled boy befriended by Nicholas. His performance was almost too painful to watch it was so real and sensitive.

Denis O'Hare as Mason in Take Me Out

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The exquisite monologue that Richard Greenberg wrote about baseball, delivered by the character of Mason, had a LOT of Richard himself in it. I never thought anyone could get inside the psyche of someone who’s thoughts and sentiments are as complex as Richard’s…..but Dennis O’Hare did it and elevated it to some celestial place.

Mary Testa as Magdalena in Marie Christine 

Mary Testa and Audra McDonald in <i>Marie Christine</i>
Mary Testa and Audra McDonald in Marie Christine

Mary is a close friend and one of the funniest, smartest, most talented people I know. It always amazes me when you think you know what a friend or colleague does and then they pull one out that shocks and surprises you on every level. She was riveting.

Tyne Daly as Mama Rose in Gypsy 

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She really was that bawdy broad for me…so hard and yet heartbreaking and that fact that Tyne is not a “singer” in the BIG VOICED Broadway sense made the impact of her own WANT for attention all the greater. A very on-the-edge turn on her part.

Chuck Cooper in Caroline, Or Change

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I’ve never seen a person play a motor vehicle before…and Chuck’s voice and talent and mere presence on stage was more powerful than a Mercedes Benz.

Extra honorary mentions:

Supporting Roles: Two supporting roles in big casts, surrounded by big names and stellar performers were standouts to me, where I singled them out and said...”Yeah they’re ALL GREAT, but who is THAT!!!???

A) Steven Sutcliffe as Mother's Younger Brother in Ragtime 
B) Linda Stephens as Meg in Damn Yankees

I had the good fortune of working with both of them and becoming friends later on. Nice to be blown away by someone you’ve never seen before!

*** The Obvious Greats: Of course, like the rest of the world; I will always remember being transported and in awe of:

A) Victoria Clark as Margaret in The Light in the Piazza 
B) Christian Borle as Black Stache in Peter and the Starcatcher (frankly, the play, the production and the entire cast…OY VEY!!!)
C) Christine Ebersole as Little Edie 
D) Dame Maggie Smith in Lettice and Lovage...saw it twice….I am a devoted fan.
F) Christopher Plummer as Barrymore in Barrymore (wow)

***

Off-Broadway performances I will never forget: 

(A) Jessica Hecht as Amy Hammer in The House in Town (Richard Greenberg). A beautiful, delicate characterization…..another heartbreaker...
(B) Kevin Gray as Kayama in Pacific Overtures. He and the show were SO EXCITING and unconventional.

***

People I was on stage with that knocked my socks off every night:

A) James Brennan as Bill in Me and My Girl. It was like flying in a helicopter every night with him…..talent, heart, warmth, humor, the sheer magical LOVE of doing what he did SO well...
B) Peter Frechette  as Laurie in Hurrah At Last (Richard Greenberg). Relentlessly brilliant execution of roller-coaster role.

***

Two shows that all around had an enormous effect:

A) Cloud Nine
The entire cast was SO unusual and gifted and the brilliant concept Tommy Tune brought to this play changed the industry for so many.
B) Ain't Misbehavin'
Again, the cast, the collaboration, the telling of a people in what proved to be MUCH more than a musical revue….the number "Black and Blue" was so deep and painful, I thought I’d die.

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