7. Jonathan Freeman, She Loves Me
In 1993, when the Roundabout Theatre Company's charming revival of the Bock/Harnick/Masteroff confection She Loves Me opened at (the sorely missed) Criterion Center Stage, I was already familiar with Jonathan Freeman's distinctive baritone, both as the voice of Jafar in the Disney movie Aladdin and as Sheridan Whiteside alongside Christine Baranski's Lorraine Sheldon on the camptastic recording of the title song from Sherry! (the flop musical version of The Man Who Came to Dinner) on the album, "Unsung Musicals." (If you haven't heard this, do yourself a favor and check it out.)
It was, then, a thrilling bit of luxury casting to see Freeman in the small role of the Headwaiter in She Loves Me. All decorum and disdain and just the slightest bit of demented joy underneath the crusty exterior, Freeman's struggle as the Headwaiter to maintain a "Romantic Atmosphere" was so hilarious, it not only energized and engaged the audience for the subsequent somber ballad ending of the first act, but left us sated with madcap merriness for the rest of night, making the entire production seem not merely quaint and sweet, but perfect.
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