THEIR FAVORITE THINGS: Three-Time Tony Nominee Mark Bramble Shares His Theatregoing Experiences

By Andrew Gans
August 21, 2013

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-nominated director-librettist Mark Bramble (42nd Street, The Grand Tour), currently represented in the U.K. by the acclaimed Chichester production of Barnum, which continues through Aug. 31.



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

 

James Earl Jones as Jack Jefferson in Howard Sackler's The Great White Hope

 

"I had never seen anything like this. The size and majesty of his performance, the way he spoke (which took some getting used to) and the overwhelming final image of Mr. Jones being carried aloft, bloody and beaten to a pulp, will remain with me forever."

 

 

Pearl Bailey as Dolly Levi in Michael Stewart and Jerry Herman's Hello, Dolly!

 

"I saw the production in 1968 at the National Theatre in Washington, D.C., prior to the Broadway engagement. It was their first Saturday night, and the show was really cooking. The communion between the stage and the audience was electric, the likes of which I've never experienced again."

 

Tammy Grimes as Amanda in Noel Coward's Private Lives at the Broadhurst Theatre
 

 

"I fell in love with Miss Grimes, hook, line and sinker. She was sexy, sophisticated and deliciously full of mischief."

 

Colleen Dewhurst and Jason Robards in Eugene O'Neill's A Moon For The Misbegotten at the Morosco Theatre

 

"Miss Dewhurst and Mr. Robards weren't acting. They were living the play, and we were allowed to watch. Sexy, sensual, earthy, funny and dangerous. Sublime."

 

 

Ethel Merman as Dolly Levi in Hello, Dolly! at the St. James Theatre

 

"I saw the closing performance just before I started working for David Merrick. Gower Champion danced across the stage with a line of dancers. Carol Channing was at the back of the house after her matinee of Four on a Garden. Merman planted herself squarely at center stage and galvanized us with her sheer star wattage. The crowd went wild. It was the last Broadway performance of her incredible career, and she made every nanosecond of it count." 

 

 

Angela Lansbury as Prettybelle Sweet in Prettybelle at the Shubert Theatre, Boston

 

"This Jule Styne-Bob Merrill-Gower Champion musical closed out of town. The show was a mess, but in the middle of it was Miss Lansbury negotiating a gamut of emotions that never failed to make me laugh out loud and move me to tears each of the many times I saw it."

 

Richard Burton as Dr. Martin Dysart in Peter Shaffar's Equus at the Plymouth Theatre, 1974

 

"Anthony Hopkins had been excellent in this role, but it was Burton, who played a limited engagement prior to making the film version, who made you feel the anguish and passion of these characters. What magnetism and that voice!"

 

Judi Dench as Cleopatra in Shakespeare's Antony And Cleopatra at the National Theatre

 

"Recently I saw a photograph of this performance, and it wasn't at all what I remembered. Oh, the costume was the same and the wig was the same, but it was Judi Dench in costume, looking slightly uncomfortable. In performance at the Olivier Theatre she was Cleopatra, she was a goddess. The most beautiful woman in the world. The sexiest woman in the world. Miss Dench created a sensual and cunning creature who dominated the vast stage with the slightest gesture and simply took your breath away."

Mark Rylance in Jez Butterworth's Jerusalem at the Music Box Theatre

 

"I was so totally absorbed in this performance that when it was over I walked around in a daze for about an hour."

 

 

James Cordon in Richard Bean's One Man, Two Guvnors at the Music Box Theatre
 

 

"Comic genius with a great big heart and even bigger appetite. I don't know when I've laughed so hard. Flawless. "