THEIR FAVORITE THINGS: Transport Group Artistic Director Jack Cummings III Shares His 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 five-time Drama Desk Awards nominee Jack Cummings III, artistic director of Off-Broadway's Transport Group, which is currently presenting a revival of I Remember Mama at the Gym at Judson.

Jack Cummings III
Jack Cummings III

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

Dirty Blonde (Broadway, 2000)

"This was one of the most unexpected shows I have ever seen. Every element
was sheer perfection--Doug Stein's amazing set, James Lapine's wonderful
direction, three heartbreakingly hilarious performances, and of course
Claudia Shear's gorgeous writing. The last image of Kevin [Chamberlain] and Claudia both dressed up as Mae West walking upstage is one of the most romantic moments
in Broadway history."

 

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Marie Christine  (Lincoln Center Theater, 1999)

 

"Before I worked with or even
met Michael John [LaChiusa], I saw Marie Christine, and it is for me one of the landmark
achievements in musical theatre writing. I thought to myself that I had to
work with him one day. I saw it twice, and both times Sherry Boone (pictured) played the
title role and her performance is still burned into my brain--her soul-wrenching note at the end of Act I is a moment I will never forget."

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 A Man of No Importance (Gallery Players, 2012)

 

"I love this show. My wife and
I went out to see it one Sunday afternoon at the modest Gallery Players in
Brooklyn and by the curtain call, we were standing up and weeping. The
production caught every humble imprint of the human heart one could hope
for. Charlie Owen's performance in the title role was a master class in
restraint and humility."

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 Les Ephemeres  (Lincoln Center Festival, 2009)

 

"Five years later and I am still flying high from this production. I am a huge fan of epic theatre with dinner breaks--sign me up! Ariane Mnouchkine is a genius. The story traveled decades and involved what seemed like a cast of thousands. Each scene took place on these large discs slowly rotated by actors from other stories, and I remember that all I wanted to do was be one of those disc rotators!"

 

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 Lipsynch (BAM, 2009)

 

 "Robert LePage! Again, epic theatre with a dinner break--heaven. I don't even
know where to begin with this one. A brilliant and seamless combination of
mind-blowing inventive stage craft with a thrilling and heartbreaking story.
I still don't know how they did most of what they did." 

 

 

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The Kentucky Cycle  (The Kennedy Center, 1993 )

"I was in graduate school and went up to DC to see this all in one day. I remember that when the cast came on stage after the dinner break, the entire audience stood up and gave them a thunderous ovation for what felt like an eternity. Robert Schenkkan's writing was incredible and to this day, I consider Warner Shook's direction one for the books."

 

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Love! Valour! Compassion! (Broadway, 1995)

 

"This play was that elusive thing
we all chase after--brilliant writing, acting, and direction all in the name
of an emotional experience you get to carry with you always. This production
continues to influence me."

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Lizzie Borden (Off-Broadway, 2009)

 

"One of those moments when you are so glad you live in New York. Tucked away in this crude basement theatre, Lizzie Borden was this mystifying, scary, crazy, awesome experience with an incredible cast led by the brilliant Jenny Fellner and Carrie Cimma. It should have had a much longer life."

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Caroline, or Change (The Public Theater, 2004)

 

"I saw this show six times--I literally would make up the most feeble of excuses to go see it again because I had to. George Wolfe, Tony Kushner and Jeanine Tesori--an
incredible collaboration. And then that cast. I remember watching Tonya
Pinkins
sing "Lot's Wife" the first time and thinking this was a historical
performance. But Chandra Wilson's moments with her right before that song
pierced my heart just as much--the two of them need to do another show
together."

 

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Company  (Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, 2006)

 

"I admit to being biased here, but I will never forget Barbara Walsh's Joanne. Just when you think you know your spouse, they can shock you, and that's what she did. I couldn't
believe she had taken this iconic role and completely made it her own. It was her idea to do the song without applause, and John Doyle fully supported her. She felt the story was stronger and connected to Bobby's journey more deeply without it. Pure class--I don't know many actors who would sacrifice that. But that's my wife."