Tony Winner Kenny Leon’s 11 Favorite Theatregoing Experiences

Favorite Things   Tony Winner Kenny Leon’s 11 Favorite Theatregoing Experiences
 
The American Son director recalls performances by Samuel L. Jackson, Audra McDonald, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and more.
Kenny_Leon_Favorite_Things_2019_HR

Tony winner Kenny Leon, who was artistic director of The Alliance Theatre Company in Atlanta from 1990 through 2002, is represented on Broadway this season with the acclaimed drama American Son, starring Golden Globe nominee Kerry Washington and Drama Desk nominee Steven Pasquale. Penned by Christopher Demos-Brown, the production continues through January 27 at the Booth Theatre. Leon, who won his Tony Award for Best Direction of a Play for the 2014 revival of A Raisin in the Sun, was also Tony-nominated for his direction of the 2010 revival of August Wilson's Fences.

Here, the critically acclaimed director recalls the performances that most affected him as part of the audience.

Samuel L. Jackson in The Mountaintop

Samuel L. Jackson and Angela Bassett
Samuel L. Jackson and Angela Bassett Joan Marcus

You’ve got to start with Sam Jackson in The Mountaintop because he allowed me to forget the badass and see Dr. King.

Denzel Washington in Fences

Denzel Washington in <i>Fences	</i>
Denzel Washington in Fences Joan Marcus

Because it was so 3-D in every way, meaning that it was a full human being with gifts and flaws.

Viola Davis in Fences

Viola Davis, Chris Chalk, Denzel Washington and Mykelti Williamson in the 2010 Broadway production <i>Fences</i>.
Viola Davis, Chris Chalk, Denzel Washington and Mykelti Williamson in the 2010 Broadway production Fences. Joan Marcus

The most raw performance I have ever seen by an actress onstage—she was truth personified!

LaTanya Richardson Jackson in A Raisin in the Sun

David Cromer, Bryce Kyle Jenkins, LaTanya Richardson Jackson, Anika Noni Rose, Denzel Washington and Sophie Okonedo  in the 2014 Broadway production <i>A Raisin in the Sun</i>.
David Cromer, Bryce Kyle Jenkins, LaTanya Richardson Jackson, Anika Noni Rose, Denzel Washington and Sophie Okonedo in the 2014 Broadway production A Raisin in the Sun. Brigitte Lacombe

Shows us what strength and elegance look like.

Lauren Ridloff in Children of a Lesser God

Children_of_a_Lesser_God_Broadway_Production_Photo_2018_03_HR.jpg
Lauren Ridloff and Joshua Jackson Matthew Murphy

Because she was honest and raw.

Leslie Odom, Jr. in Hamilton

Leslie Odom, Jr in <i>Hamilton </i>
Leslie Odom, Jr in Hamilton Joan Marcus

He was the glue to Hamilton. He brought his unique style to an amazing character and story.

Christian Borle in Something Rotten!

Christian Borle in <i>Something Rotten!</i>
Christian Borle in Something Rotten! Joan Marcus

He made me forget how silly it all was.

Audra McDonald in A Raisin in the Sun

Audra McDonald and Sean Combs in <i>A Raisin in the Sun</i>
Audra McDonald and Sean Combs in A Raisin in the Sun Joan Marcus

Made me realize how much more she has to offer the world as a dramatic actress.

Philip Seymour Hoffman in Death of a Salesman

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Philip Seymour Hoffman in Death of a Salesman Brigitte Lacombe for New York Magazine

Something that I can’t even talk about without crying.

Kerry Washington in American Son

American_Son_Broadway_Production_Photos_2018_03_HR.jpg
Kerry Washington and Steven Pasquale Peter Cunningham

Because I admire artists who take chances.

Harvey Fierstein in Hairspray

Harvey Fierstein in <i>Hairspray</i>
Harvey Fierstein in Hairspray Paul Kolnik

Because he allowed me to forget that he was a man.

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