THEIR FAVORITE THINGS: Judith of Bethulia's Charles Busch Shares His Cherished Theatregoing Experiences

By Adam Hetrick
April 11, 2012

Playbill.com's new feature series, Their Favorite Things, asks members of the theatre community to share ten of the Broadway performances that most affected them as part of the audience.

This week we spotlight the choices of Tony-nominated playwright Charles Busch, who is currently appearing Off-Broadway in his newest stage comedy, Judith of Bethulia.

Read more about Charles Busch in the Playbill Vault.



Zoe Caldwell in Colette

 

"She played Colette from girlhood to old age and created a magical and decadent aura that was spellbinding. She brought a whole world of the past on to the stage with her. I loved her in The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie but somehow Colette made an even greater impression on me."

Click here to visit the Playbill Vault page for Zoe Caldwell.

 

 

 Maggie Smith in Lettice and Lovage

 

"I saw it several times to study her impeccable timing and limitless comic invention. From watching her, I saw how important it was to always remain true to the essential dramatic situation. I love how Maggie Smith can be both the most flamboyant of actresses and also capable of such minimalist subtlety." 

Click here to visit the Playbill Vault page for Maggie Smith.

 

Vanessa Redgrave in Orpheus Descending 

"She made such fearless, brave and sometimes outrageous dramatic choices that all seemed so true to the character of Lady. She started the play totally desexualized, with an ugly raspy voice and then gradually revealed layers of sensuality and beauty."

Click here to visit the Playbill Vault page for Vanessa Redgrave.

Janet McTeer in A Doll's House

 

"I never quite believed Nora’s transformation until I saw this production. When Janet McTeer cried out “I am a human being!” you could feel everyone’s heart stop for a beat."

Click here to visit the Playbill Vault page for Janet McTeer.

 

 

Charles Ludlam in Camille

 

"All of his performances made a huge impact on me, but when he played Marguerite Gautier in his adaptation of Camille, he changed my life. He evoked Garbo and Tallulah Bankhead and yet the audience always believed that he was Marguerite. He was hysterically funny and terribly touching."  

 

 

Linda Lavin in The Tale of the Allergist's Wife

 

"Even if I hadn’t written this play, this would be one of my favorite performances. Linda as Marjorie Taub was like an Upper West Side Jewish Medea. Her incredible emotional intensity coupled with the most brilliant comic technique lifted my play to a whole different stratum. Her every line reading is etched into my memory. She can devastate you with just an emphasized final syllable."

Click here to visit the Playbill Vault page for Linda Lavin.
 

 

 

Ethel Merman in Hello, Dolly!

"I think the only way to truly appreciate Merman was to see her live in a book show. There was such confidence and a tough, jaunty comic technique. I was quite young but it seemed like she hardly had to move. There was something almost defiant in her effortlessness. And to hear that clarion bell of a voice ringing right up to the balcony was absolutely thrilling."

Click here to visit the Playbill Vault page for Ethel Merman.
 

 

 

 

Angela Lansbury in Dear World 

 

"I’ve seen Angela Lansbury in just about every one of her stage appearances since Mame and loved her in everything. But my memory of her Countess Aurelia in Dear World stands out. She was so haunting and beautiful and grotesque and warm and delicious and astringent all at the same time."

Click here to visit the Playbill Vault page for Angela Lansbury.

 

Irene Worth and company in The Cherry Orchard

 

"Irene Worth was dazzling but the entire ensemble of this production including a young Meryl Streep was overwhelming. I went in thinking that a Chekhov play would be a rather muted, long and dull affair that would be good for me, and was completely mesmerized. A whole world was on that stage, tragic and foolish and noble."

Click here to visit the Playbill Vault page for Irene Worth.

 

 Elaine Stritch in A Delicate Balance

 

"I loved this entire production but Stritch really fascinated me. Of course, her gravelly, perfectly pitched line readings were unforgettable, but it was her frightening silences that were even more articulate." 

Click here to visit the Playbill Vault page for Elaine Stritch.