This has been a remarkable year for Ariana DeBose, who received her first Tony nomination in May for her performance as Disco Donna in the new musical Summer: The Donna Summer Musical at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre. The triple threat, who also created the role of Jane in the musical version of Chazz Palminteri's A Bronx Tale and was seen in the original Off-Broadway and Broadway casts of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Hamilton, also picked up a Drama League Award nomination for Distinguished Performance and won the Chita Rivera Award for Outstanding Female Dancer in a Broadway Show for her work as the late disco queen.
We recently asked the actor to pen a list of her favorite theatregoing experiences.
Jan was just everything! I laughed, I cried, she broke my heart, and filled me with pride. I also personally loved her dancing in this show! Her spirit came through as she moved.
Renée Elise Goldsberry in Hamilton
I actually got to sit and watch Renée in the show at one point. She was the smartest character onstage. Regal and poised, she made intelligence sexy. But my favorite part of her performance was when Angelica laid into Alexander: "I'm not here for you...," for the win!
Joshua Henry in Shuffle Along…
I loved Joshua's performance as Noble Sissle! I saw colors I hadn't seen from him before! I was so inspired by his physicality, vocals, and intention.
Adrienne Warren in Shuffle Along…
A few things got me on this one. For one, Adrienne played two roles, Gertrude Saunders and Florence Mills. Both roles were incredibly different and nuanced. She was electric to watch! She turned those tap shoes into fire! And, she accomplished all of that with minimal stage time. She's got “it.”
Gideon had me from start to finish. The last scene of the show when he's hit with that pin spot was extraordinary. I was reminded of how I felt when I watched that epic scene/closeup with/of Glenn Close in Dangerous Liaisons. That's how powerful he was in that moment onstage.
Katrina Lenk and Adina Verson in Indecent
These women blew me away. Their chemistry was stunning! I felt the way the piece presented the love story of the two women was tasteful and thought-provoking. The passion between these two made the ending all the more devastating.
Charlotte d’Amboise in Chicago
Charlotte is simply the best. She brings depth and substance to this character. I go back when I can to see her perform! Her, at times, childlike take on this woman's psyche is not only hilarious, but nothing short of thrilling to watch.
Martha Plimpton in Pal Joey
I remember seeing Martha in the revival, and I thought, “What moxie.” She was absolutely delicious in this part. Nobody can match Martha's comedic timing, nobody.
Leslie Odom, Jr. in Hamilton
I mean Leslie is a master class in stillness and subtlety being effective onstage. His performance of “The Room Where It Happens” was the perfect combination of storytelling, vocal excellence, thrilling execution of choreography, and magic.
If you've ever read the book of that musical, you'll know what Terrence
did with that character was genius! Let's be real, he can act his way through any song, but what he was able to do with King Charlemagne was funny, disturbing, and invigorating. A divine display of creativity in my opinion.