THEIR FAVORITE THINGS: Tony Winner and Gentleman's Guide Star Jefferson Mays Shares His Theatregoing Experiences

By Andrew Gans
November 6, 2013

Playbill.com's 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 Tony-winning actor Jefferson Mays, who plays eight roles in the new musical A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder at the Walter Kerr Theatre.



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

 

Angela Lansbury in Sweeney Todd.  Uris Theatre, 1980

 

"After having listened obsessively to the cast recording (compulsively renewed from my hometown library), I finally saw her — a demented caricature from my 'Happy Families' deck brought to glorious life. So deranged, adorable and brilliant. I remember asking, 'Is she really that nice lady from 'Bedknobs and Broomsticks'?"

 

 

John Lithgow in Requiem for a Heavyweight. Martin Beck Theatre, 1985

 

"Saw this regrettably short-lived revival of Rod Serling's 1956 drama in previews. Lithgow's exquisitely limned 'Harlan 'Mountain' McClintock' remains one of the most intelligent and humane creations I've ever seen; heartbreaking and heroic."

 

Colleen Dewhurst and Jason Robards in Long Day's Journey Into Night. Neil Simon Theatre, 1988

 

"Despite the title, the evening spent in the presence of these two titans felt all too short."

 

Les Misérables Broadway Theatre, 1988

 

"Grudgingly dragged to this by a college girlfriend. Sat sullenly in the mezzanine with arms crossed wishing I were at Barrymore's. As soon as the Bishop handed back the candlesticks, I was sobbing like a sooky schoolgirl. (Mary Poppins had the same effect on me)."

 

 

Grey Gardens. Walter Kerr, 2007

 

"An uncanny channeling of the Beale girls in all their tragic and triumphant glory. This brilliant musical expanded on beloved source material and took it to realms unimagined." 

 

 

Mark Rylance in Boeing-Boeing at the Longacre Theatre, 2008

 

"In a turn reminiscent of Buster Keaton, the always astonishing Rylance, in an elegant production, delivered a transcendent performance: seemingly effortless, hilarious and ultimately so very moving."

 

Geoffrey Rush in Exit the King. The Barrymore, 2009

 

"A theatre actor's theatre actor. With grease paint surging through his every vein, Rush's King was a master class from one of our greatest living clowns."

 

Tom Edden in One Man, Two Guvnors. Music Box Theatre, 2012

 

"With his Marty Feldman eyes, hoar-frosted lips, suicidal pratfalls and palsied hands to make the spoons dance on their plates, he reached the zenith of meticulously-crafted comic abandon."

James Earl Jones in Gore Vidal's The Best Man. Schoenfeld Theatre, 2012

 

"What a thrill it was to feel this wondrous actor's basso profundo vibrations nightly shake the Schoenfeld to its foundations. A masterful performance that was constantly evolving. J. E. J. would return to his dressing room after each scene, open his script and discover new insights and nuances right up through our final performance."

 

 

Hands on a Hardbody, Atkinson Theatre, 2013 
 

 

"Gone too soon from the Rialto, I know this gorgeous show will come to be acknowledged as a great work of art about our country and its dreams."