THEIR FAVORITE THINGS: 2012 Tony Nominee and Evita Star Michael Cerveris Shares His Theatregoing Experiences

By Andrew Gans
May 9, 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 Award-winning singing actor Michael Cerveris, who recently received his fifth Tony nomination for his performance as Peron in the Broadway revival of Evita.

Read more about Cerveris' theatrical history in the Playbill Vault.



Len Cariou and George Hearn in Sweeney Todd on Broadway.

 

"I can say without hyperbole that Len Cariou is the reason I perform in musical theatre today. His performance was shocking, thrilling, terrifying, actorly, musical, serious and reckless in ways I have aspired to ever since. And George took up the mantle brilliantly adding his own demonic panache. Between them I saw the original production seven times as a young actor, and it left an indelible impression."

Learn more about Sweeney Todd at the Playbill Vault

 

 

Mandy Patinkin and Bernadette Peters in Sunday in the Park With George on Broadway. 

 

"I caught it standing room when they returned toward the end of the run before it was filmed. They were such a superb, inseparable pair, Mandy all rumpled and wiry neurosis, living in the cage of his mind and art, and Bernadette, quirky, proud, coquettish and damaged. By the end, I don't think I even knew I had legs anymore, much less felt tired from standing. One of my favorite nights in musical theatre."

Read more about Sunday in the Park With George at the Playbill Vault

 

John Malkovich and Al Pacino in Burn This / American Buffalo on Broadway.

"I read that when Brando first came on stage, the audience felt as though some terrifyingly dangerous animal had entered the theatre. I understood that notion with Malkovich's entrance in Burn This. His Pale was burning with some terrifying fire and rage, buried under layers of electric intelligence. Similarly, Pacino's ranting, "Fucking Ruthie" entrance and subsequent volcanic Teach made me want to chew my arms off with envy and admiration that I'd forever now have a benchmark for truly thrilling, threatening and dangerous non-actory acting."

Read more about John Malkovich and Al Pacino at the Playbill Vault.

Alan Rickman in Les Liaisons Dangereuses on Broadway.

 

"It was sheer delight watching Alan dissect every person on the stage with his impeccable, impossible timing and mastery of casually brutal glances, only to crumble and succumb to his match in Lindsay Duncan. An amazing demonstration of almost invisible craft."

Read more about Les Liaisons Dangereuses at the Playbill Vault

 

 

Simon Russell Beale in Uncle Vanya / Twelfth Night at BAM Galileo / The Alchemist at National Theater. 

 

"Seeing this extraordinary actor twice play huge, complex and entirely different roles in two different shows on back-to-back nights still makes my head spin. A lesson in depth, precision, technical skill, intelligence, wit and range...and overachievement of the very best kind."

Read more about Simon Russell Beale's theatrical history at the Playbill Vault.

 

 

Zakes Mokae in Master Harold and the Boys.

 

"This was perhaps the first time I had the feeling that an entire unknown world was being revealed to me in the deeply grounded performance of this beautiful and deeply human actor. He seemed to possess a wisdom and an acceptance of humanity in all its weakness that made him angelic."

Read more about Zakes Mokae at the Playbill Vault.

 

 

Dustin Hoffman in Death of a Salesman. 

"It was the first time I'd seen the play after years of scenes in acting class. I don't remember everything about Dustin Hoffman's performance, except that it was so deeply moving that after the show I went straight out to a Times Square pay phone and called my dad to tell him I loved him."

Read more about Dustin Hoffman's theatrical history at the Playbill Vault

 

 

 

Michael Bryant (pictured here in The Tempest) in Brand at the National Theater. 

 

"Our first night in London my high school drama group saw Ibsen's Brand at the National, and I was transported by the production and felt like I was vibrating with the excitement and awe after the final avalanche scene. I waited so long at the stage door that the doorman took pity on me and rang up to Michael Bryant's room so that I could mumble my 'thanks for an unforgettable theatrical experience' or something like that. And, I couldn't believe the voice I'd heard bellowing from Brand was now kindly thanking me on the phone. I understood something for the first time about great actors and the people they are. I walked home alone (the rest of my class long gone) across the Thames to our hotel feeling so grown up and like I had perhaps found my place in the world...a whole new world." 

Read more about Michael Bryant's theatrical history at the Playbill Vault

 

RSC / Peter Brook / Théâtre du Soleil in Nicholas Nickleby / Mahabarata / LesEphemeres (Broadway / BAM / Lincoln Center Festival)

 

"Roger Rees and a glorious company of RSC actors taught a master class in ensemble performance and character work, taking on dozens and dozens of characters in the multi-hour epic Nickleby. It was the first time I'd seen the kind of things we did at school realized at the highest possible level--and I was inspired. Similarly, Brook and Mnouchkine create worlds and incredibly dense, sprawling yet specific work from other worlds on universal themes with large companies that can transform and populate these worlds with such specificity and finely observed detail and such trust and abandon with each other. As a kid raised on Grotowski, it has always been ensemble acting like this that seems to me the real essence of theatre."

Read more about Nicholas Nickleby at the Playbill Vault.

 

Mark Rylance in Jerusalem on Broadway. 

 

"Having first seen him as an exquisitely sad and hilarious Olivia in Twelfth Night, I thought I already knew the heights of transformation and humanity Mark Rylance was capable of. But his performance in Jerusalem was something even more extraordinary. Don Quixote, Sid Vicious and Henry V rolled up into one tour de force performance that was even more moving than it was impressive. And, it was hugely impressive."

Read more about Mark Rylance's theatrical career at the Playbill Vault. 

 

Tom Waits in Concert on Broadway
 

 

"In October 1987, Tom Waits did five concerts on Broadway at the Eugene O'Neill. It was a nearly three-hour show that was filled with characters: sailors, hookers, carny people, waitresses and nighthawks at the diner...and all of them Waits. I felt like I had seen all of Halloween turned into a single gravel-voiced piano player. It may not have been a play, but it was a lesson in acting and storytelling through song. "

Read more about Tom Waits' theatrical history at the Playbill Vault