THEIR FAVORITE THINGS: Silence! The Musical and "Queer As Folk" Star Randy Harrison Shares His Theatregoing Experiences

By Andrew Gans
August 8, 2012

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 Randy Harrison, who played Justin Taylor in all five seasons of Showtime's "Queer As Folk," and recently joined the cast of the award-winning Silence! The Musical at the brand-new Elektra Theatre in Times Square.



Doubt.

 

"I saw Doubt in late previews. The storytelling was so tight and powerful and each performance so masterful it was like getting punched in the gut. Especially with what was going on politically at the time, constantly listening to pundits and politicians spouting absolutes, seeing Doubt was deeply cathartic."

Learn more about Doubt at the Playbill Vault.

 

 

Fiona Shaw in Happy Days.

 

"This was a perfect combination of playwright, director and actor for me. I didn't think I'd be able to see it at BAM, so I actually took a train down to DC to see it at the Kennedy Center. Then I ended being able to see it later in NYC after all. I had a completely different experience at each viewing. I feel like Winnie all the time." 

Learn more about Fiona Shaw at the Playbill Vault

 

 

Rags. 

 

"My first Broadway show was a musical called Rags that everyone is shocked I've seen because apparently it only ran four performances. Judy Kuhn, Lonny Price, Terrence Mann, Teresa Stratas - the cast was amazing. The music is awesome, too. I was already a theatre kid so I didn't need much convincing, but I was certainly hooked after seeing this."

Learn more about Rags at the Playbill Vault.

Angels in America

"I saw both parts of the original cast of Angels in America in one day on a family trip to New York just after I turned 16. My parents always let me choose all the theatre we saw. Nothing could really prepare us for the experience we had that day. That play and that production changed everything for me."

Learn more about Angels in America at the Playbill Vault.

 

 

 

Ivo Van Hove's Opening Night at BAM.

 

"Cassavetes' 'Opening Night' is one of my favorite films. The way Ivo von Hove and Toneelgroep Amsterdam blew the piece up for the theatre astounded me. It was so theatrical and expansive but also felt voyeuristic, like you were spying on a very private moment."  

 

 

Le retour au desert at Comedie Française. 

"I find Bernard-Marie Koltès's (pictured) plays to be so challenging. I always leave the theatre with this never-ending, spiraling debate going on in my head. This was the first play I ever saw at the Comedie Française, which is an experience unto itself. Even if you don't speak French, if you are a theatre person it's worth seeing something there. There's such history, and the space itself is so gorgeous and surprisingly intimate. This production of Le retour au desert was really aggressive and harrowing. This is another one I was lucky to see because Koltès's brother ended up shutting down the production because an Algerian character wasn't being played by an Algerian actor, as stipulated by Koltès."

 

 

The Wooster Group's Brace Up!.

"In this production (it’s a version of Three Sisters) Irina was played by a much older actress. I remember hearing her speeches and thinking about them so differently. They were both funnier and sadder than I'd ever experienced them. It all seemed idiotic and yet completely devastating. And then some wonderful theatrical wizardry would happen and you would be jerked into another way of thinking about life and about art. And, I remember the end: the play just kind of stopped."

 

 

Les Éphémères - Théatre du Soleil. 

 

"This was the best 'epic theatre' experience I've ever had. I saw it in the Park Avenue Amory over the course of two evenings; I think the total running time was over nine hours. Afterwards, I felt like I'd lived another separate life with these characters. I actually found myself missing them and wanting to hang out more. Ariane Mnouchkine's company is truly remarkable; they're this hierarchy-free theatre collective that live communally in Easter Paris. Their work feels different than anything else I've ever seen. There's no artifice - you enter through their dressing rooms; during intermission the company sets up big banquet tables and serves dinner and eats with you. It was an extraordinary experience."

 

A Little Night Music with Judi Dench.

 

"This was one of those experiences where an actor so expertly performs a song it's like hearing it for the first time. I understood Desirée, I understood the song, I understood the play in a way that made me realize how superficial my thinking had been previously. I was in high school visiting London and I also saw Branagh's Hamlet so it was a pretty life-defining trip."

Learn more about Judi Dench at the Playbill Vault.

 

 

Chronicles: a Lamentation Song of the Goat - La Mama

 

"I've been haunted by this piece since I saw it, and I'm dying to see it again or find where this Polish company is and what they are doing. It was like witnessing real magic, experiencing some ancient powerful ritual, some physical and spiritual rite. What those actors did with their voices and bodies; they could fly, fire was zipping all over the place, your ears were ringing with chanting. It’s embarrassing because I can't articulate what happened in that theatre. But when I left, I was profoundly changed, the world seemed more horribly beautiful somehow and I worried I had dreamt the whole thing."