THEIR FAVORITE THINGS: Avenue Q Tony Nominee and Greed Star Stephanie D'Abruzzo Shares Her Theatregoing Experiences

Playbill.com'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 Avenue Q Tony nominee Stephanie D'Abruzzo, who can currently be seen in Greed: A Musical for Our Times at The Tank at The Playroom Theater.

Stephanie D'Abruzzo
Stephanie D'Abruzzo (Photo by Meredith Zinner)

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

1776 at the Roundabout (1997) and at Ford’s Theatre (2012) 

"I love this show. If I was a man, I would try to play every single character in that Congressional Chamber throughout the course of my career. These two particular ensembles were really quite wonderful, and both productions were so well-staged. I saw the Roundabout production at the long-gone Criterion Center, before it transferred to the Gershwin, and that space was simply ideal for those booming voices to ricochet off the walls during 'Sit Down, John.' And Ford’s Theatre was another perfect spot for it. A big-but-simple show in an intimate space is a rare, lovely beast."

 

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Urinetown (2001)

 

"This was such a genuine surprise, my jaw fell to the floor and stayed there. The concept, the execution, the stellar cast… it was all sublime. Whenever anyone would tell me that Avenue Q was groundbreaking, I would reply that it was Urinetown that really broke the ground. We were just digging on site. We may never have gotten to Broadway if they hadn’t opened that subversive door first."

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 The ensemble of Ragtime (1998)

 

"Powerful performers in a powerful show  — you’d think it would be overkill, right? The pairing of Audra McDonald and Brian Stokes Mitchell alone was electric, but add Marin Mazzie and Peter Friedman to that and now you’ve got wildfire… and then add that huge, gorgeous throng of 40 or so other keen-eyed troupers to the mix and it’s sheer dynamite to blow the roof off of whatever we’re calling that theatre now."

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The ensemble of Assassins (2004 Revival)

 

"Name any legendary championship team for the ages. That’s what this was. Top to toe, some of the most extraordinary performers (and at the time, some of the most underrated) ever assembled on a single stage. All of them could carry a show by themselves, and indeed, some of them have… but in this instance, the whole was much, much greater than the sum of its parts."

 

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Deanna Dunagan and Amy Morton in August: Osage County (2008)

 

 "Two of Chicago’s finest were let loose on Broadway to snarl and claw in all of their raw, broken glory for a staggering three-and-a-half hours. They left me breathless. What a gift." 

 

 

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Bob Martin in The Drowsy Chaperone (2006)

 

"I saw this in previews and was grinning ear to ear like a fool the entire time. Bob Martin was a revelation in his simple, perfect turn. Everyone in the show was wonderful, of course, but oh! Man in Chair! I’d never seen any character quite like him before, and yet it was so familiar and true. Even if he’d had nothing to do with the creation of the piece, I would have been in awe of him. That the show was his baby made me a fan for life."

 

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Jay Johnson in The Two and Only (Off-Broadway run, 2004)

 

"I have been a fan of Jay’s since his Chuck-and-Bob days on 'Soap,' and I was deeply flattered when he invited me to his show when it ran Off-Broadway. Some people are put-off by ventriloquists, but Jay somehow transcends the stereotypes and stigma. He is a wise expert and a flawless, effortless executioner when it comes to his craft, and the story he told through this very personal-yet-unselfish show was genuinely moving and sweet and funny. Rather than simply being a parade of characters, it was an autobiographical and historical journey that stunned me with its sincerity."

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 Peter Bartlett in Paul Rudnick’s monologue Cabin Pressure (Summer Shorts 2012 at 59E59)

 

"This monologue kicked off an evening of three short pieces. I was in the second piece, and for 21 performances I got to hear this little gem through the monitors. Right before our cast’s entrance, part of my nightly routine was mouthing along with the hilarious last line: 'An innocent man has died, and a terrorist is still on the loose. But what a wonderful day!' The first and only time I got to see it as an audience member was during our dress run, and I was laughing so hard in a mostly-empty house that I must have been distracting, but I couldn’t stop. I was so tickled by the whole thing. I loved the darkly-comic-yet-somehow-also-confectionary script, and the choices that Peter made were perfect. And thanks to Paul Rudnick, I still think of Scott Pelley as 'that gentleman who isn’t Katie Couric.'"

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Norbert Leo Butz in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (2005)

 

"Okay, pretty much everything this guy does is memorable, but I single out this role for one very specific reason: When you can take a character that was originally played by the great-and-singular Steve Martin in a movie I’d watched dozens of times in college and knew backwards and forwards, and then make that character so fully your own that I’m no longer even thinking about Steve Martin by the curtain call, well then that is something special, indeed."

 

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 Bill Irwin in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (2005)

 

"I remember when this production’s casting was announced and there were some grumbles about Bill, which I didn’t understand. Apparently, people couldn’t see beyond Fool Moon and the like, even though he’d done plenty of other things. Sadly, people like to put actors in little boxes.

After I saw him fully and beautifully inhabit this character with just the right balance of bitter and meek and lava, and then go on to win the Tony for it, I was so proud of him for proving that one does not have to be confined by the silly boundaries that others define for us." 

 

 

The 39 Steps on Broadway (2008) and at the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis (2010)   

 

"This was such a visual delight, so fresh and full of surprises, which of course is always unexpected when you’re seeing an adaptation of a classic film. And to see a regional production of it was extra fascinating, because they were prohibited from using the gimmicks of the original production (like the shadow puppet sequence). It was completely different and unique from what I’d seen on Broadway, but still worked to equal, charming effect."