Donna McKechnie Shares Her Theatregoing Experiences

Favorite Things   Their Favorite Things: Tony Winner Donna McKechnie Shares Her Theatregoing Experiences
 
Performances by Chita Rivera, Cynthia Erivo, Barbra Streisand and more made McKechnie's list of favorites.
Donna McKechnie
Donna McKechnie

Tony-winning A Chorus Line star Donna McKechnie will join Tony and Olivier Award nominee Tony Sheldon (Priscilla, Queen of the Desert) in The New York Musical Festival’s upcoming production of Icon, a romantic new musical with book by Sebastian Michael and music and lyrics by Jonathan Kaldor that will be seen July 20-26 at The Duke on 42nd Street. Here, triple-threat McKechnie shares the theatregoing experiences that most affected her as part of the audience.

Barbra Streisand in Funny Girl

Johnny Desmond and Barbra Streisand in Funny Girl.
Johnny Desmond and Barbra Streisand in Funny Girl. Friedman-Abeles / The New York Public Library

Just because she's Barbra Streisand and “the greatest star”!

Chita Rivera in Bye Bye Birdie

Dick Van Dyke and Chita Rivera in <i>Bye Bye Birdie</i><br/>
Dick Van Dyke and Chita Rivera in Bye Bye Birdie
Friedman-Abeles

For a young dancer from Detroit just arriving in New York, this performance gave me the courage to go forward with my decision to make the transition from the ballet world to the world of musical theatre. Chita was absolutely thrilling, a total inspiration!

Ben Vereen in Pippin

Ben Vereen in <i>Pippin</i>
Ben Vereen in Pippin Martha Swope/NYPL

I wanted to make people feel the way he made me feel as he performed “Magic to Do”! Brilliant.

Zero Mostel and Jack Gilford in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum

Funny Thing Happened On The Way To THe Forum, A 6.jpg
A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum

When Jack sang “I'm Lovely” to Zero, I could hardly breathe it was so funny and touching. Seeing two great actors work off of each other with such spontaneity was a rare pleasure.

Uta Hagen in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

Uta Hagen, Arthur-Hill and George-Grizzardin <i>Who&#39;s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?</i>
Uta Hagen, Arthur-Hill and George-Grizzardin Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

She was daring and powerful and moving, and I made a decision to study with her when I saw this incomparable performance.

Gwen Verdon in Sweet Charity

Gwen Verdon
Gwen Verdon Murray Korman

After seeing her performance, I followed her light wherever I could. She became my beacon, and 24 years later taught me this role that was written for her. I feel forever blessed by her generosity.

James Earl Jones in The Great White Hope

James Earl Jones in <i>The Great White Hope</i>
James Earl Jones in The Great White Hope

His performance was so profoundly moving that I forgot I was in the theatre and heard someone sobbing.... and it was me.

Walter Matthau and Art Carney in The Odd Couple

Walter Matthau and Art Carney in the stage production The Odd Couple
Walter Matthau and Art Carney in The Odd Couple Friedman-Abeles Collection/NYPL

An all-time favorite. I had to see it more than once because it was so funny, and people laughed so hard that I missed about 50% of the lines.

Lena Horne in The Lady and Her Music

Lena Horne in <i>The Lady and Her Music</i>
Lena Horne in The Lady and Her Music Martha Swope

She raised the bar for all forms of musical concert and musical theatre performances with this engagement. She changed the game for the mainstream by illustrating her point of how it takes 20 years to sing a ballad, by singing “Stormy Weather” wonderfully in the first act and then blowing the roof off the theatre when she sang it again in the second act.

Cynthia Erivo in The Color Purple

Cynthia Erivo in <i>The Color Purple</i>
Cynthia Erivo in The Color Purple Matthew Murphy

I don't think I can find the words to describe how moved I was by John Doyle's powerful production. One of the most brilliantly calibrated and heartbreakingly beautiful performances I have ever seen. When she sang the last song, I swear I felt the whole audience levitate.


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