THEIR FAVORITE THINGS: Tony Nominee and Evita Star Josh Young Shares His Theatregoing Experiences

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16 Oct 2013

Josh Young
Josh Young

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 Jesus Christ Superstar Tony nominee Josh Young, who is currently starring as Che in the national tour of Evita.

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

 

Ragtime

 

"This was the best thing I've ever seen. I remember being floored by Audra [McDonald] and desperate to be Brian Stokes Mitchell. How would a small Jewish tenor grow up to be a tall black baritone? He wouldn't...but that didn't stop me from trying. I was 17 and I was deciding on where to go to school. When Stokes came out the stage door, I needed to know where he went to school, and my mother was right there to absorb all the info a Jewish mother could at a stage door. When Stokes said, 'I didn't go to school,' my mother nearly freaked thinking that I'd have to follow that path in order to become the big black baritone I longed to become. I ended up going to school, and I still want to be Brian Stokes Mitchell sometimes."

 

 

The Who's Tommy

 

"Tommy was the first show I ever saw on Broadway. I was 14. It wasn't 'the show' that started that flame in me or anything, but it did excite me in a way no other show had. I'd never seen a show so brilliantly cast and directed. I mean, the alumni of that cast I saw are the who's who of people I love; Michael Cerveris, Alice Ripley, Norm Lewis, Sherie Rene Scott and the list seriously goes on and on. I knew not a single one of their names at the time. I just knew they were all stars in my eyes. Getting to work with Des McAnuff on my Broadway debut last year was a thrill to say the least."

 

In the Heights 

 

"So I've seen a few shows live that I have felt were completely groundbreaking. I was lucky enough to see the original cast of In the Heights. This one blew my mind. The infusion of Latin, hip hop and rap with musical theatre, great storytelling and talent was a powerful combination to me during a time when I'd not been moved by much! Thank you, Lin-Manuel Miranda."

 

Matilda the Musical

 

"Like In the Heights, I feel this show was and is completely innovative in a way I've not seen before. First off, these kids are brilliant. I mean, each one of them is confusingly good. Certain numbers left me unsure of where choreography left off and set design began. Mind Blown."

 

 

The Lyons  

 

"The performances in The Lyons were just incredible. Again, I'm embarrassed to say I'd not seen Linda Lavin in anything before. I'm now the president of her fan club. She was incredible. So nuanced and funny through some serious subjects. Between her, Dick Latessa and Michael Esper, I walked out feeling I'd just had the greatest acting class ever." 

 

 

Les Misérables  

 

"This is the one that started it all for me. I didn't see it on Broadway, but it was the first musical I saw where I said, 'That's what I want to do,' and it was specifically, and he'll kill me for writing this, watching a very young Hugh Panaro play Marius in the first national tour at the Forrest Theater in Philly. I won't say how old I was, because I want Hugh to still be my friend, but it was a life changer for me. I thought, 'I wanna do what that guy's doing.' I wanted to tell that amazing story and sing those incredible songs. Fast forward a few decades and I was playing Marius to Hugh's Jean Valjean."

 

The Lion King 

 

"My experience with this was much like the one I had with Les Mis in that it's story is so incredibly told through such glorious song that I had to be a part of it! It differs in my experience with Les Mis in that, to my great despair, I'll probably never be Simba...so much for 'color blind casting.' But seriously, what Julie Taymor did with this Disney cartoon is genius. What kind of mind could think that gazelles with a human in the middle of them would read so beautifully or that a bare-chested man with half the face of a lion on his head could captivate?"

 

South Pacific revival

 

"This is the first time I've seen a musical of this 'Golden Era' re-created in a way that I felt completely enraptured by. Ridiculous cast aside, Bartlett Sher made a show that I'd seen many times and felt was too dated to revive, completely enthralling and kept the material totally relevant."

Spring Awakening 

 

"What can I say? It was awesome. When this show came out, it was a breath of fresh and exciting air to the Broadway community. Unique staging with a score that was just on fire and grabbed me from the get go. For me it was Steven Sater's lyrics that I found most interesting. I felt some were so abstract that I was able to interpret them myself much as one would a Jackson Pollock painting."

 

 

First Date 
 

 

"I know, I know it's 'just a night of fun.' Sure, it didn't change my life, but it's the last thing I saw in NYC before I left for tour, and it reminded me how fun a Broadway show can be and how escaping our regular lives for a night of fun music and an hour-and-a-half of belly laughs can be more valuable than any R&H masterpiece. Which reminds me I left my favorite musical of all time off this list...but then again I've never seen Carousel on Broadway."