THEIR FAVORITE THINGS: Tony Nominee and Jungle Book Star André De Shields Shares His Theatregoing Experiences

By Andrew Gans
October 9, 2013

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

This week we spotlight the choices of two-time Tony nominee André De Shields, who is currently starring in the new musical The Jungle Book at the Huntington Theatre Company.



(Clicking on a name bolded in blue will take readers to that actor or show's entry in the Playbill Vault.)

 

Hello, Dolly!

 

"Pearl Bailey playing to a spellbound audience after the final curtain, as the remainder of the performers provided exquisite attention during Pearl's famous 20-minute 3rd Act — an inspired crowd-pleasing risk."

 

 

Coram Boy

 

"The ensemble of abandoned prepubescent boys, whose mixture of castrati vocals and herculean stamina—all portrayed by young women—delivered a catharsis that caused me to weep throughout the second act, including the 11 o'clock rendering of Handel's 'Messiah.'"

 

A View From the Bridge 

 

"Allison Janney's understated yet insightful performance unequivocally established Eddie Carbone's wife, Beatrice, as the tragic character in that nest of jaundiced love."

 

Strange Interlude

 

"Glenda Jackson's virtuosic use of nuanced body language."

 

 

Lucky Guy  

 

"Stephen Tyrone Williams, as Abner Louima, is wheeled on in a hospital bed from the downstage right portal. During the ensuing five-minute scene in a voice numb with pain, he relates the incident, in which his arresting officer sodomized him with a bathroom plunger. There was a silent hush all over the world." 

 

 

Dracula  

 

"During what I believe to have been the closing matinée performance, Frank Langella glides onstage to a roaring standing ovation (not obligatory). Before he can manage his bow, a torrent of long-stem red roses rains down onto the stage. He bends gracefully, retrieves a single rose, kisses it and then tosses it across the apron of the stage. The audience goes nuts."

 

The Other Place 

 

"Laurie Metcalf is biophysicist Juliana Smithton. She has descended into a dementia worthy of Lear, but is so supremely convinced of her individual stability that the audience begins to question its own sanity."

 

The Scottsboro Boys

 

"Unmitigated evidence that commercial theatre possesses the potential for crisis resolution. Notwithstanding the wrong-headed objection to its use of the Black Face art form by the very demographic of American society that stood to benefit most from the play's success, Scottsboro Boys demonstrated just how desperately Broadways needs to enlighten as well as entertain."

The Heiress 

 

"Cherry Jones and Philip Bosco, the perfectly imperfect daughter and the imperfectly perfect father."

 

 

Rachael Lily Rosenbloom (And Don't You Ever Forget It)  
 

 

"The chorus consisted of Wayne Cilento, Kelly Bishop, Thomas Walsh, Michon Peacock and yours truly, among others. One day, at rehearsal's end, choreographer Tony Stevens said to me, 'André, you'll never work in the chorus again.' After several days of feeling heartbroken, I managed the nerve to ask Tony what I had done wrong. Tony was kind enough to not laugh at me, and simply explained that he meant I might be ready for principal roles. Sheesh!"