THEIR FAVORITE THINGS: Tony-Nominated Newsies Director Jeff Calhoun Shares His Theatregoing Experiences

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13 Nov 2013

Jeff Calhoun
Jeff Calhoun
Joseph Marzullo/WENN

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 Tony-nominated Newsies director Jeff Calhoun, who is also represented by Maurice Hines is Tappin' Thru Life, which stars Tony Award nominee Maurice Hines and plays the Arena Stage's Kreeger Theater Nov. 15-Dec. 29.

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

 

Ben Vereen as the Leading Player in Pippin

 

"The perfect show and the perfect performance to see for a 16-year-old with aspirations of singing and dancing on Broadway. I will never forget the incomparable Ben Vereen dancing classic Fosse while framed by Tony Walton's macramé drops."

 

 

Angela Lansbury as Mrs. Lovett in Sweeney Todd

 

"Her performance was as startling and arresting as the ear-piercing factory whistle that started the show. I believe it was my introduction into the provocative world of dark comedy."

 

Jennifer Holliday as Effie White in Dreamgirls

 

"It was the first time I had ever seen a standing ovation in the middle of a show, much less having started it."

 

Fiona Shaw as Medea

 

"I was sitting front-row mezzanine for my introduction to this Greek classic and international actress and director Fiona Shaw. Having missed Zoe Caldwell and Diana Rigg's respective performances of this barbarian protagonist years before, I wasn't going to miss the heartbreaking and revelatory performance I heard was happening eight times a week at the Brooks Atkinson. The rumors were true!"

 

 

Harvey Fierstein as Arnold Beckoff in Torch Song Trilogy

 

"It's difficult to recall this performance without getting emotional. I felt compelled to share this event with my mother prior to coming out to my parents. It was the first time I recall the theatre resonating on such a personal level. Harvey was bigger than life. His performance felt like a volcano erupting, and it was the first time I questioned how any actor could possibly have the stamina to do that twice a day, much less eight times a week." 

 

 

Timothy Scott as Mistoffelees in Cats

 

"The first fan letter I recall writing. Timothy played the magical cat, and indeed he was magical. I was literally rendered breathless by his singing and dancing. Upon hearing the news of his life ending much too soon, I recall thinking how proud his friends and family must be that he was able to create memories that will long endure."

 

Derek Jacobi as Cyrano de Bergerac

 

"A classic performance that, for me, will always make the name Derek Jacobi synonymous with Cyrano."

 

Lily Tomlin in The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe

 

"It's impossible to name all the signs of intelligence in this masterpiece. Although I had long been a fan of Lily from television, it was the first time I was cognizant of her brilliant partner and writer Jane Wagner."

Elaine Stritch in Elaine Stritch at Liberty

 

"Simply a master class in timing."

 

 

John Selya in Movin' Out

 

"Another fan letter and the first time I saw a dancer give an astounding leading actor performance without uttering a single word."

 

 

Joe Mantello in The Normal Heart 
 

"Not only has Joe wrecked me with his stellar direction, but his performance in this play was as devastating as any I have witnessed. After the performance, perhaps it was the longest I had sat in my seat just reflecting in silence – that silence Stephen Sondheim talks about hoping for after the curtain comes down and before an audience gains its composure to applaud."


 

 

Christine Ebersole in Grey Gardens 
 

"As a member of the creative team on Grey Gardens, I had the good fortune of working intimately with Christine. That close proximity in no way diminished any of the magic of her miraculous transformation from Christine to Edie. Watching that transformation will always be one of the highlights of my life in the theatre."