THEIR FAVORITE THINGS: Tony Winner Barbara Cook Shares Her Theatregoing Experiences

By Andrew Gans
October 10, 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 Tony winner and Kennedy Center Honoree Barbara Cook, the iconic soprano who starred in the Broadway productions of The Music Man and Candide and will return to Carnegie Hall Oct. 18 in celebration of her 85th birthday.



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

 

Joel Grey in Cabaret.

 

"I sat down immediately after I saw the show to write a note to Joel saying, 'I think your performance in Cabaret is perfect!' All these years later I still feel exactly the same way. Such courageous work."

 

 

Eugenie Leontovich in Anastasia

 

"I will never forget that performance. The inner, emotional life of this character so beautifully blended with the outer physical elements. I have seldom seen anything so completely realized. Magnificently done."

 

 

Hugh Jackman in The Boy From Oz.

 

"I was so moved by this performance I went a number of times. The play begins, he moves down to center stage, opens his arms and lets you into
his soul. Extraordinary!"

Paul Scofield in Amadeus.

 

"My son and I saw this play at the National Theatre in London. We were so stunned by this brilliant performance that when the curtain fell we couldn’t speak. It was at least 45 minutes before we said one word. Unforgettable."

 

 

Judi Dench in Absolute Hell.

 

"Again in London at the National. I've never seen Judi Dench make one false move or utter one false word. She makes me cry. She makes me laugh. And she is so, so funny. The comedy bits she did in this play, a bit drunk, her ankles bending, falling out of her shoes, priceless!"

 

 

Frank Langella in Frost/Nixon.

 

"Frank is one of our finest actors. He's given us so many great performances. He doesn't resemble Richard Nixon in the least, but he managed to evoke the essence of the late president to an extraordinary degree. And when he decides to – he can break your heart."

 

 

Tyne Daly in Master Class.

 

"When I first heard about this casting, I thought Tyne was an odd choice physically for the role. But when I saw her, I was blown away. She really caught Callas. And rarely have I seen anybody own the stage as Tyne did in this magnificent portrayal."

 

Gwen Verdon in Redhead.

 

"Another great performance from our loveable Gwen. I wonder if anybody else ever had the same ability to make an audience fall in love with her. She was so sweet. So strong. Nobody like her. Nobody even close."

 

Lena Horne: The Lady and Her Music. 

 

"I saw this show eight times. When I was invited to the opening, I hesitated because I thought I knew her work so thoroughly I wasn’t particularly interested. Thank heaven my friend persisted. She had totally re-invented herself. She gave us every ounce of herself. So purely, so honestly. Irresistible."

 

 

Maureen Stapleton. 

 

"... in everything. I suppose I have to choose one performance – so let it be The Rose Tattoo. The role that made her a star. Finally, finally a magnificent star. Let me digress for just a moment. I was in rehearsal for Flahooley, my first appearance on Broadway. I had never studied acting, had no experience acting and here I was with this big role. Our director used to take Jerome Courtland and me aside to work with us, to try to help us understand what he was trying to get us to do. And then one day he said, 'If you want to see a great example of what I'm talking about, go see Maureen Stapleton in The Rose Tattoo.' One of the best suggestions anybody every gave me. Omigod! The power of Maureen. The onslaught of Maureen. Easily one of the greatest performances I've ever seen. And then so many other performances from her. Not all of them on stage. One of the most crushingly funny people I’ve ever known. Most of the quotes from her are not printable in this 'family' publication. Now that I come to think of it. Perhaps Maureen's greatest performance – even with all her problems – was her magnificent life!"