THEIR FAVORITE THINGS: Stage and Screen Star Vanessa Williams Shares Her Theatregoing Experiences

By Andrew Gans
January 15, 2014's 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 stage and screen star Vanessa Williams, who was most recently on Broadway in the acclaimed revival of The Trip to Bountiful and will be part of the sixth annual Living for Today concert Jan. 19 at 7 PM at Joe's Pub. Read about the lineup here. 

Williams will also be seen in the upcoming Lifetime TV film version of Horton Foote's "Bountiful," which debuts Feb. 22 at 8 PM.


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

Stephanie Mills in The Wiz


"She had a huge voice in a tiny package. Watching her performance from my front-row mezzanine seat as Dorothy when I was 12 years old made me realize that a chance to star on the Broadway stage was always an audition away."



Chita Rivera in Kiss of the Spider Woman


"Not only did I have chills as she morphed from Aurora into the Spider Woman, being the legendary triple-threat, but I could barely take a deep breath knowing that I was going to soon replace her in the Tony Award-winning role of a lifetime."


Gregory Hines in Eubie


"What an amazing duo. Gregory & Maurice Hines. We lost Gregory way too soon. Amazing tapper, smooth singer & a heart of gold on stage."


Hinton Battle in Sophisticated Ladies


"The male dancer that every dancer lived to see. His leg extension and grace along with his precision makes his artistry unforgettable. Not to mention a phenomenal singer."



Cicely Tyson in The Trip to Bountiful


 "During our incredible run at the Sondheim, I had to sneak upstairs to watch from the balcony while Mother Watts sang her hymns on stage at the Harrison Bus station. She won the Tony, and no one could ever touch her performance." 



Barbara Cook in Sondheim on  Sondheim


"Sharing the stage with the extraordinary Barbara Cook in the duet "Not a Day Goes By/Losing My Mind" each night was another moment on stage when I knew that Broadway moments like this are what I always dreamed about as a musical theater major. Then, when they come true, it's always surreal."


Audra McDonald in Porgy & Bess


"Aptly named the 'freight train of love' by her husband because of her sheer power of the voice and the intensity of her energy. Her singing brought tears to my eyes as Bess, and Gershwin's score was a perfect marriage for her voice."


Martin Short in Little Me


"Nearly fell out of my chair with laughter. I am a sucker for anything he does."



"Freshman year of college. Standing room only. Need I say any more."



Scottsboro Boys


"This piece about young black men traveling on the trains of our country during separated times in our history should be shown at every high school in America." 



The Book of Mormon


"Starting from the first five minutes, I knew it was going to be the naughtiest piece I would ever see on stage."