THEIR FAVORITE THINGS: Tony Winner Randy Graff Shares Her Theatregoing Experiences

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31 Oct 2012

Randy Graff
Randy Graff

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 Tony Award winner Randy Graff, whose Broadway credits include Fiddler on the Roof, A Class Act, High Society, Moon Over Buffalo, Laughter on the 23rd Floor, Falsettos, City of Angels and Les Miserables, among others.

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

 

A Chorus Line (Original Cast)

 

"I saw it with my college boyfriend. We were still in school studying theater and preparing for the real world. We stood in the back of the orchestra for 10 bucks, and didn't speak the whole way home. We were so shaken, in a good way, by the reality of what we had seen and how we were about to jump in it!"

 

 

Lily Tomlin in The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe

 

"I remember my hands hurt from clapping so hard. I walked home so quickly and wrote my first fan letter. Years later, she presented me with my Tony Award. Life!!"

 

 

Jennifer Holliday in Dreamgirls

 

"There are singular moments on stage that never leave you. I have several and this was the first. At the end of 'And I Am Telling You...,' the reaction to her performance of that song was like nothing I had ever seen. The lights came up during intermission, and the audience was still applauding and screaming. I don't remember how long it went on, but I'm getting chills just writing about it."

Sweeney Todd (Original Cast)

 

"A string of unforgettable moments. That factory whistle, the set, Sondheim's unbelievable score, Angela and Len coming up from the ground, the glorious orchestra, those strings!, the powerful singing of the ensemble (those high Sweeeeeeneeeeeeeys!), the door slam. The audience on its feet, on cue! It was groundbreaking, overwhelming and I had a moment with Leonard Bernstein in the lobby. He was emptying his pipe in an ashtray. I said, 'Great, huh?' He said, 'I'm jealous.'"

 

 

Robert Morse in Tru

 

"Robert Morse was nowhere to be found. On the stage, that is! What a lesson in transformation."

 

 

Mark Rylance in Jerusalem

 

"I was jealous of the actress playing his ex-wife. I wanted to be on the other side of those eyes. I can't imagine what they looked like from night to night. I could see her reaction and thought, 'Oh, you lucky girl.'"

 

 

 Patricia Clarkson in Three Days of Rain

 

"That's when I decided she was my favorite actress. She still is."

 

 

 The Normal Heart (Broadway, 2011)

 

"It's the first time I've gone to the theater where women were quietly crying in the bathroom stalls. Myself included."

Death of a Salesman (2012 Revival, Directed by Mike Nichols)

 

"This is my favorite play. I had seen the other revivals, and they were all wonderful. But this was the first time I really understood why Willie killed himself."

 

 

 The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby.

 

"I saw it all in one day, matinee and evening. No smoke and mirrors, just great actors telling a great story with props only. The staging was so inventive. I could have come back the next day for more. What a lucky girl I was to have gotten to work with Trevor Nunn and John Caird on Les Miserables. I remember telling friends I felt like I was doing Nicholas Nickleby with a turntable during our rehearsal period."

 

 

 Victoria Clark in The Light in the Piazza.

 

"I've spoken to Vicki about the effect her performance had on me. She said it was a story she had to tell at that time. 'Love if you can and be loved.' Another one of those singular goose-bump moments. I went with Dee Hoty, and we were holding each other in tears. A glorious performance. Perfection."

 

 

 Meryl Streep in The Taming of the Shrew

 

"Well, first of all I saw Meryl Streep live in the park! And, she taught me a great lesson about playing a comic leading lady. You should do something funny on your first entrance. Some piece of business that tells the audience you're funny. I cant remember exactly what it was, but she squashed a bug with her shoe, or ate a piece of a plant and spit it out. It was great.
Here's Kate! I'm here, I'm funny and I'm not taking any sh-t!"