THEIR FAVORITE THINGS: Five-Time Tony Winner Audra McDonald Shares Her Theatregoing Experiences

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17 Jul 2013

Audra McDonald
Audra McDonald
Photo by Autumn de Wilde

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 five-time Tony Award-winning actress Audra McDonald, who is currently celebrating the release of her newest solo recording, "Go Back Home" (Nonesuch Records), with a multi-city concert tour that continues through December.

McDonald will also be part of Playbill's starry Broadway on the High Seas 4 cruise; click here for more information.

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

 

Zoe Caldwell in Master Class

 

"I have never seen or experienced such presence onstage, and I got to see it close up. When Zoe looked at me on stage, I felt like she looked right into the very depth of my soul and immediately knew all of my secrets."

 

 

Danny Burstein in Follies 

 

"The show had fantastic performances by everyone, but Danny broke my heart. The moment at the end of the show when he attempted to put his hand around Sally's waist but takes it away at the last minute actually made me audibly gasp out of the sheer pain in that gesture."

 

 

Phylicia Rashad in A Raisin in the Sun 
 

 

"I know Phylicia well and adore her, and every night when she got on that stage and became Lena Younger, she didn't disappear so much as she did grow these roots — like an enormous tree that would reach down through the stage, the theatre, the concrete of the city and bore down into the earth and your soul."

Phylicia Rashad in Gem of the Ocean 

 

"Phylicia as Aunt Ester in Gem of the Ocean? Forget about it. She disappeared. I couldn't find her anywhere on that stage. Just Aunt Ester."

 

 

Cicely Tyson in The Trip to Bountiful 

 

"Her performance is one of the only times I have ever lost emotional control as an audience member. When she cried out the words Bountiful...I felt my heart burst, and I started to sob, and I didn't stop until I was across the street at a restaurant after the performance about an hour later. (Ask anyone who was with me that night. It is absolutely true.)" 

 

 

Patti LuPone in Gypsy

 

"Patti LuPone's 'Rose's Turn' ... There is nothing to be said. No words. Just awe."

 

Mark Rylance in Jerusalem

 

"My jaw was on the floor for his entire performance."

 

Eartha Kitt in The Wild Party

 

"Eartha singing 'Moving Uptown' is the first time I have ever given a standing ovation in the middle of a show. Burned in my brain."

Denzel Washington in Fences

 

"When I walked out of the theatre, I felt as though I had witnessed a virtuosity as remarkable as Vladimir Horowitz or Itzhak Perlman."

 

 

 Stephen Spinella in Angels in America: Millennium Approaches
 

 

"His performance was a lesson of how you can make the audience weep for you without you having to weep for yourself."


 

 Chita Rivera in Kiss of the Spider Woman

 

"Heard this legend on a million cast albums, but I had never seen her live. Seeing her live put me over the edge in my fandom of Chita. Her performance of 'Where You Are' was like seeing a lightning bolt harnessed on a stage. Made me truly understand the word living legend."