THEIR FAVORITE THINGS: Follies and The Morini Strad's Mary Beth Peil Shares Her Cherished Theatregoing Experiences

By Andrew Gans
April 4, 2012

Playbill.com's new feature series, Their Favorite Things, asks members of the theatre community to share ten of the Broadway performances that most affected them as part of the audience.

This week we spotlight the choices of recent Follies star Mary Beth Peil, who is currently appearing Off-Broadway in The Morini Strad.

Read more about Peil's theatrical history at the Playbill Vault.



Chita Rivera in Bye Bye Birdie.

 

"I think it was the first Broadway musical I ever saw as a teenager from Iowa, and I thought the stage was going to go up in flames during the Shriners number on top of/ under/over and around that long table!! To work with her years later in Nine and watch her still set the stage on fire every nite was a thrill."

Read more about Chita Rivera's theatrical history at the Playbill Vault

 

 

Edward Petherbridge in Strange Interlude.

 

"I don't remember much about the play or the production except that he was the only character I could understand. Without any grandstanding or emoting when he made his final exit, the entire audience, including myself, burst into spontaneous applause not only for his performance but we didn't want to accept the fact that he would not return to the stage that evening... how much he would be missed."

Read more about Edward Peterbridge's theatrical history at the Playbill Vault

 

Liv Ullmann in Anna Christie.

"Another O'Neill play in which I could not take my eyes off her no matter what she was doing or not doing. She glowed! I found out later that she never wore a stitch of make up on stage, further proof of her natural GLOW!"

Read more about Liv Ullman's theatrical history at the Playbill Vault.

Angela Lansbury and Len Cariou in Sweeney Todd

 

"A two-fer. Hard to seperate the two brilliant performances in this ground-breaking Sondheim masterpiece. Goosebumps form beginning to end."

Read more about Angela Lansbury and Len Cariou at the Playbill Vault

 

 

Audra McDonald in Carousel.

 

"The minute she appeared on stage I thought, 'Who is THAT?' and then she opened her mouth and I was bowled over with sheer unqualifed JOY!"

Read more about Audra McDonald's theatrical history at the Playbill Vault.

 

 

Rosemary Harris in Delicate Balance.

 

"She just sat there and everything out of her mouth made sense, had relevance, was unquestionable perfection, yet at the same time seemed like it was the first time she'd ever said it. A real acting lesson."

Read more about Rosemary Harris' theatrical history at the Playbill Vault.

 

 

Victoria Clark in Light in the Piazza.

"Vicky is a dear friend, and to witness her journey from fighting for the part of Margaret, through two regional productions to Broadway was so moving and inspirational. To this day people think she IS Margaret!"

Read more about Victoria Clark's theatrical history at the Playbill Vault

 

 

 
Yul Brynner in The King and I.

 

"This is a bit of a cheat since I never saw his performance from a seat in the audience. But I was as close as you can get on stage and watched in the wings when, in spite of being terminally ill, he would transform from a shrunken wasted body and energy to THE KING the minute he hit the stage and the lights!! Talk about Dr. Theatre!" 

Read more about Yul Brynner's theatrical history at the Playbill Vault

 

Eileen Atkins in Vita and Virginia.

 

"In my book she can do anything and is totally transformed in everything she does, be it on stage or screen. I pick V and V because she not only wrote it but, in spite of having the least flashy part, stole the evening from the great Vanessa Redgrave."

Read more about Eileen Atkins' theatrical history at the Playbill Vault.

 

Maria Callas in Tosca.

 

"Not on Broadway but it should have been. Most theatrical moment I have ever seen when she goes for the knife to stab Scarpia in the 2nd Act. A scene everyone in the audience knows by heart and has seen a million times but for the FIRST time we all held our breath wondering what she was going to do. I was at her last performance at the Met and I never once thought of her as singing!"

 

Alan Cumming in Cabaret. 

 

"I never saw anything like it... it was as though a Force of delicious wickedness had been let loose in the City... not bound by the confines of the stage."

Read more about Alan Cumming's theatrical history at the Playbill Vault