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
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
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
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
Shows us what strength and elegance look like.
Lauren Ridloff in Children of a Lesser God
Because she was honest and raw.
Leslie Odom, Jr. in Hamilton
He was the glue to Hamilton. He brought his unique style to an amazing character and story.
He made me forget how silly it all was.
Audra McDonald in A Raisin in the Sun
Made me realize how much more she has to offer the world as a dramatic actress.
Something that I can’t even talk about without crying.
Kerry Washington in American Son
Because I admire artists who take chances.
Because he allowed me to forget that he was a man.