THEIR FAVORITE THINGS: Tony Nominee and Patti Issues Star Robin De Jesus Shares His Theatregoing Experiences

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04 Sep 2013

Robin De Jesus
Robin De Jesus

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 Award nominee Robin De Jesus, who will play a limited run in Patti Issues, the autobiographical one-man play by Ben Rimalower, beginning Sept. 8 at the Duplex.

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

 

Daphne Rubin-Vega as Mimi in Rent

 

"I got to experience Daphne playing Mimi at the 10th anniversary reunion concert, and I felt like I got it. She made moments where you didn't know there was room for moments. Without offense to anyone else, 'Without You' never made as much sense to me as when she performed it. She was heartbreaking."

 

 

Amy Morton in August: Osage County

 

"DEAD, I was dead. EAT THE FISH BITCH! It was like watching a master class. That whole show was brilliant but she held down that fort. I'M RUNNING THINGS NOOOOWWW!!!"

 

Eartha Kitt in The Wild Party
 

 

"Eartha made a living playing Eartha, but in The Wild Party she let vulnerable Eartha Mae come out, and it was so endearing and yet so fierce. I'm gonna brag a bit but I feel so lucky that I got to work with Eartha on a few workshops and readings of a show, and she was an amazing woman. After a year or more of doing readings, she willingly and very openly spoke to us about being blacklisted during the McCarthy years, being an actress of color pre-civil rights....and she was funny."

 

Joe Mantello in The Normal Heart

 

"Another master class. I remember one particular scene where he yelled at his brother while trying to avoid getting choked up afterwards he immediately exited out one door, entered through another with a pint of ice cream and started a new scene as if nothing happened. How he made that emotional transition so quickly I will never understand. I, as an audience member, wasn't ready for the next scene."

 

 

Ruined

 

"SOBBED, I SOBBED. I needed to be left alone when this show was done. There was one particular line towards the end of the play that really stuck with me. I can't remember the name of the character who said it, although I loved him, 'I expect more from our men.'" 

 

 

The Light in the Piazza

 

"I never got to see the original West Side Story — I was not born yet, but I feel like this is our generation's musical equivalent. The show was so unapologetically romantic. Starting with hat flying into the air. I bought it. That show made me want to start a page on OkCupid!"

 

Brief Encounter

 

"I thought this show was so creative and magical. That fact that nothing had to be said to show love. Just the sound of waves crashing and a couple of chandeliers. I loved that it was so theatrical in a world where so many people want to see realism. I want this company to come back to us."

 

Gypsy run of Chita Rivera: The Dancer's Life

 

"This was one the most magical afternoons that I have ever experienced. The gypsy run for the most famous gypsy! The energy in the room was insane. It was a who's who of Broadway because everyone in the community wanted to experience it. It was a massive love fest."

The cast of Once

 

"I saw this show at The New York Theatre Workshop because my friends were obsessed with it. Cristin Milioti and Steve Kazee were everything, but what moved me was watching everyone else in the cast support them emotionally even when they weren't necessarily in the scene. They were still invested and with them. It was really beautiful. I think sometimes we forget how special theater can be when it is a group effort."

 

 

Choreography of In The Heights
 

 

"One day while rehearsing for Heights Off-Broadway, Andy Blankenbuehler was putting together what we famously called, 'The Clump' in the Finale. Andy wanted us to form a wave starting with Karen Olivo as Vanessa putting her hand on Lin-Manuel Miranda, Usnavi's, shoulder. He explained that this wave symbolized us, the cast, as a community consoling him, Usnavi. I lost it. I literally began to sob in rehearsal. I don't often dance, but I had never been moved that way before. Andy saw what happened to me and continued teaching the choreography, he refused to make eye contact with me and then said, 'I'm not gonna look at you because I'm gonna lose it, too.' His heart and those of the dancers were so invested in the choreography and its meaning. I did that show for about 2 1/2 years, I never got tired of looking at them."


 

 

Caroline, or Change
 

 

"This was the show that changed my life. I had no idea what it was about. I was walking by TKTS alone on my day off from The Bubba Gump Shrimp Company, where I was a waiter. I got a seat in the mezzanine. I geeked out because Shoshana Bean was two or three rows down from me and then my jaw dropped. I knew Caroline. I lived with her. She raised me. Even Tonya Pinkins' face looked like that of my relatives. After seeing that show I dropped everything that made me unhappy in my life. I quit my job, I got a new agent and decided that I would no longer be a desperate actor. I would just be an actor. I saw that show five times. Six years later I did a show with Veanne Cox and realized that in my life.....the extraordinary is the ordinary. #fullcircle"