Geoffrey Holder's concept for The Wiz
The Cyclone was played by a woman with fabric unraveling from her turban; the Yellow Brick Road by four Solid Gold-style dancers. The theatricality of the surrealism captured my nine-year-old imagination and never let go.
The vulnerability of the kids in Runaways
There was a moment when a boy my age sang, "I am the undiscovered son of Judy Garland." I could identify because I was certain I was the secret love child of Liza Minnelli and Peter Allen.
The ending of Agnes of God
I was 16 and didn’t understand the end of the play, so I went to the stage door and asked if I could speak with Amanda Plummer. "No," came the answer, "but Miss Page will talk to you." So my high school friends and I were escorted into the dressing room of the legendary Geraldine Page, who graciously explained ambiguity to a trio of teens from New Jersey.
Yul Brynner's final performances in The King and I
I got to see one of Yul Brynner’s final performances as the King. The lung cancer that killed him a few months later prevented him from even performing "A Puzzlement." The show was also the first I saw after taking the late Charlie Willard’s dramaturgy class at Carnegie Mellon; Charlie gave me an appreciation for all of Hammerstein’s libretti that only grows deeper with time.
The Lincoln Center Theater revival of The House of Blue Leaves
I moved to New York in 1986 with everything I owned in two Hefty bags and $100 in my wallet. My first day, I spent $20 of it seeing John Guare’s nutty play because his writing captures the way I think.
The original London production of Miss Saigon
Forget the helicopter, which felt like a theme-park attraction. What knocked me out was the simple ingenuity of the chain link fence, swirling around to become both the inside and the outside of the embassy compound. Also, a teenage sensation named Lea Salonga.
Bernadette Peters and Elaine Stritch in the revival of A Little Night Music
Front row, no orchestra pit. I had just moved back to New York after a 24-year exile, and I resisted the urge to kiss the hem of their gowns at the curtain call. Both ladies created idiosyncratic, intelligent, fully-dimensional human beings. I would have stayed there forever if allowed.
Joshua Henry in The Scottsboro Boys
Somewhere there exists an island of dull, ugly, misshapen and uncoordinated people because there is no other explanation for how Joshua Henry can be so gifted. I want to write a show for him. And one for Audra McDonald; and Christian Borle; and Laura Benanti. I’d better get cracking.
Joe Mantello's direction of I'll Eat You Last: A Chat with Sue Mengers
A totally underrated play, production and performance. Bette Midler barely moved the entire time yet held my attention every second. Plus, it was my first Broadway opening-night party—a star-studded glamfest thrown by Vanity Fair’s Graydon Carter at the Russian Tea Room.
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
Marianne Elliott’s production is simply everything I want theater to be: imaginative, moving, thought-provoking, suspenseful, uplifting. I would go every week if I could—like church.