Krysta Rodriguez, who appeared on Broadway in the original production and the Deaf West revival of Spring Awakening, the new musicals In the Heights, The Addams Family, Good Vibrations and First Date as well as the revival of the Pulitzer Prize-winning A Chorus Line, was also seen on the NBC series Smash. Here, the singing actress shares the performances that most affected her as part of the audience.
Kelli is stunning in everything she does, period. Her voice is an actual dream and certainly one of the best actresses of our time. But what I particularly loved about this performance was her embodiment of womanhood. It was complex and hearty. She was motherly, sexy, sorrowful, passionate...everything a woman can represent. It was so fulfilling to watch.
Carmen Cusack in Bright Star
What a truly transformative performance! She effortlessly volleyed back and forth between youth and experience, naïveté and worldly. What really excites me as an audience member is when you believe every word that comes out of an actor's mouth, and this was one of those times. And her 11 o'clock number left me vibrating with excitement.
Obviously, Phillipa [gave] the performance of a lifetime over at Hamilton. But seeing her in her New York "debut" is a treat I will never forget. I absolutely loved the show itself (can't wait to see it again!), and her performance, in particular, was so breathtaking. I don't think I've ever empathized with a character so much as hers and the way she portrayed it so delicate, yet full of fire, was astounding. A total "WOAH! Where did this girl come from!" moment that made it impossible to ignore that she was making her mark in a big way.
John Gallagher, Jr. in Spring Awakening
This performance will always be special to me because it represented such an incredible time in my life. I remember seeing the show at the Atlantic and absolutely needing to be in it. As the fates would have it, I was cast a few months later, and it was a magical experience. One of the best bits of fortune was being able to watch the show every night from the onstage audience seats. Johnny's performance was so stinking incredible from the first moment, and I couldn't believe I got to watch someone create an iconic and award-winning role from the ground up. At that age (we were babies!) I had never seen a contemporary of mine have such a hold of their craft. A rare experience that I treasure.
Sandra Mae Frank in Deaf West Spring Awakening
Beautiful Sandy! One of the most stunning acting performances I've ever seen. I was fortunate enough to once again be able to watch from the stage as another crop of insanely talented actors performed Spring Awakening. As a Deaf actress, Sandy has a mastery of ASL, which is full of imagery and facial expressions that lends itself so perfectly to musicals. There were several times in rehearsals when I would miss a cue because I was so captivated by her storytelling. She drew you in and made you want to understand what she was telling you, which is the fundamental job of an actor, no matter what language they speak.
Charlotte d'Amboise in Chicago
I was 18 and had just moved to New York when I saw Chicago on Broadway. I had just done a production at my high school, so the show was very dear to me, and I felt like I knew it backwards and forwards. I had never seen Charlotte perform (later I would have the fortune to be in A Chorus Line with her). She was so fantastic in the role, specifically because she was so immersed in the character but still found all of this freedom to play around. There was something mischievous about it. It wasn't like Charlotte was improving, it was like Roxie was living and breathing and making choices for the first time. It was so expressive and playful. That was a new experience for me as a new actor and something I always remembered.
Nathan Lane in The Nance
Nathan is a master performer. I have never seen a person play an audience like he does. Any viewer is a mere passenger on his ride. He is in complete control, and you feel totally comfortable with wherever he is going to take you because he knows best. Sometimes, it looks so easy for him that you forget how hard it really is. Watching him in The Nance was as close to a perfect performance as I think I will ever see. Everyone knows he's the funniest man alive, but he broke my heart in the show as well, which he can do on a dime and then make you laugh the next second. He's the king.
Jennifer Simard in Disaster
Five of my favorite performances have been this [past] season! Who didn't love Jennifer Simard in this show?! The comedic performances that make me laugh the most are the ones that are completely unexpected. Her choices were so unique but deeply truthful. And she sang her face off, too. Heavenly perfection. #PutSimardOn
Megan McGinnis in Daddy Long Legs
One of the loveliest performances I've ever seen (and not just because she is my best friend). It is such a privilege to watch someone you know so well encounter the role they were born to play. The perfect combination of sweetness and spunk, she effortlessly allows you to fall in love with her. And effortless is no small feat considering it's a two-person show. I'm so proud of what she has accomplished.
Truly one of the great performances of our time. She is such a powerhouse with a voice like a fog horn! Several standing ovations in the middle of the show when I was there, and I know this is the norm. I was totally blown away, my mouth agape, shaking my head throughout the entire thing. She's not human. Thank goodness she decided to hang out with us mortals anyway.