Favorite ThingsTHEIR FAVORITE THINGS: Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark Star Patrick PagePlaybill.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 singing actor Patrick Page, who is currently playing Norman Osborn/Green Goblin in Broadway's Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark.
"It was the first show I saw when I moved to New York, and it was still in previews so the buzz had started but it was still possible to get a standing-room ticket. In the first scene I remember thinking, 'This guy is over the top—no way can he sustain my interest.' He hadn't been absent from the stage more than five minutes before I began to feel an eagerness for his next appearance. When he finished his scene with his doctor (
Kathleen Chalfant) and the house lights went up for intermission, I looked down at my hands, which were gripping the rail in front of me. My knuckles were white. It was thrilling, thrilling theatre."
"He seemed not to be acting at all—just minding his own business up there on the stage—going about his life while we huddled in the darkness spying on him because he was so damn interesting. He was the real thing. I said to [my wife, actress] Paige [Davis]—if that guy doesn't win the Tony, I'm burning my Equity card."
"Paige and I go to the theatre almost every week, and we had been going through a bit of a dry spell. We were seeing shows that the critics had praised and coming out deeply disappointed every time. I began to think that I had become too cynical—or at least too aware of the craft—to really surrender to a story and become enveloped by an evening in the theatre.
August: Osage County changed that. The acting was so layered and so human—the stakes so high and the relationships so dimensional that I immediately booked tickets for my friends to see the show with me when they visited from out of town. By then the cast had changed and the magic was lessened. Later I saw the original cast again in London and it was as thrilling as the first time. They were the definition of an acting ensemble.."
Boeing Boeing first by myself while Paige was in L.A., and marvelled—as I always do—at Rylance's comic precision and ability to be completely in the moment on stage. Later, Paige replaced
Kathryn Hahn as the American flight attendant, Gloria, and I saw the show again. Rylance was as present and as hilarious as ever. At the time I was playing Henry VIII in
A Man for All Seasons at the Roundabout—and since Henry appears only in the first act I found I could get out of costume, dash up to 48th Street, and watch nearly the entire second act of
Boeing Boeing before I needed to be back at 42nd Street for my bows. Rylance was astonishingly consistent, but never the same. It was like watching a small child or an animal at play. It was the essence of great acting."
"McTeer seemed to be a force of nature. Completely real but wildly theatrical. And detailed. A thousand small details of behavior which built a portrait of a woman trapped by circumstance. She avoided every trap and pitfall in the role. It was full of surprise and devoid of cliché. I believe it will stand as one of the greatest performances in stage history."
"I knew the documentary. Little Edie is an indelible character, and I thought, inimitable. So how did Christine Ebersole BECOME her so thoroughly? I can understand the external feat—astonishing as it was. She nailed the voice, the mannerisms, the flirtatiousness masking the fear. She landed every laugh with the kind of timing a true comedienne hones over a lifetime on the stage. She sang it impeccably, with a level of skill virtually unmatched in the musical theatre. But how did she capture the SOUL of another human being so completely? As
Geoffrey Rush says in 'Shakespeare in Love,' 'It's a mystery'—one I am incredibly grateful I was able to witness."
"The words 'national treasure' are overused, but in Langella's case they are apt. Langella's combination of raw talent, charisma, sex appeal and technique have been evident over a lifetime of great performances, but the addition of a masterful
characterization is what made his Nixon the jewel in his crown. Somehow, the demands of playing someone we all knew (or thought we knew) so well—someone who had been caricatured and parodied so many times—brought out the very best in Langella. I was shocked when the paunchy, stooped figure loped across the stage at the beginning of the play, and marveled at how Langella transformed his honeyed baritone into Nixon's rumbling cadence without invoking memories of Dan Ackroyd on 'Saturday Night Live.' He conveyed more with his hands while sitting in a chair than most actors can with their whole body. He played Nixon as a man hungry for affirmation and desperate to silence the voice of inferiority in his head. He showed us the
roots of his narcissism. Thank goodness the performance is preserved on film. Langella's combination of soul and technical mastery are the equal of any of the greatest British thespians."
"Speaking of British thespians, Steven Berkoff is sometimes egregiously overlooked when the roll call of the greats is taken—but that is only because his talent is so unique and his work so singular that he is difficult to categorize. British acting is dominated by a wonderful attention to language, which, unfortunately, has sometimes led to performances which neglect the body. Berkoff's training and apprenticeship to masters of physical performance like Lecoq and Marceau led to a completely new and full-blooded performance style. Berkoff is a gifted and prolific playwright, critic, essayist, and director. He often directs and performs in his own plays—as he did when he brought his solo performance
One Man to New York. The first act consisted of two original pieces—Actor, and Dog—which were stunning displays of virtuosity—I will never forget the hilarious and obscene concerto he created out of the simple act of kissing his dog. The second act was the entirety of Poe's 'The Tell Tale Heart.' It was thrilling and terrifying—and one of the greatest performances I have ever witnessed."
"One of Berkoff's star pupils in drama school was Antony Sher—who brought his Macbeth to New Haven in 2000. I've taken a few stabs at Macbeth myself, and I'm convinced it is among the most difficult roles ever written. Sher spoke the text beautifully—we believed his was a mind that could coin those extraordinary phrases and create those terrifying images. Among the many indelible moments that stay with me are his holding up the badge of Thane of Cawdor to Lady Macbeth like a child bringing a trophy home to his mommy, and his huddling with Seyton in some underground bunker like Hitler or Saddam Hussein—then nearly walking out of the theatre at the end of the 'tomorrow' speech—as if both actor and character had decided life was 'a tale told by and idiot, signifying nothing.'"
"The problem with Leontes (which I am studying now to perform next year at the Shakespeare Theatre Company) is that he is never given the chance to show who he WAS before the terrible jealousy which destroys his world grips him. Beale suggested the man Leontes had been in a thousand subtle ways. In addition, he may be the world's most intelligent and fluid speaker of verse. My wife Paige, who is often critical of falseness in Shakespearean performers, fell in love with him. So did the critics, the audience at BAM, and I."
"I remember her entrance—swiftly descending a flight of stairs as if she were sliding down a frozen lake on skates—the entire body completely still. The audience gasped—it was almost like a magic trick. In that moment she showed the beautiful, fierce and poised woman trapped inside the shy and terrified girl. We had, for one brief instant, seen who she COULD be—and we rooted for that vitality to return to her as she faced the stupidity and greed of her father and her suitor. A stunning choice from one of America's greatest artists."
"I have never seen an actor make love to an audience so thoroughly without sacrificing the character or the play one iota. His charm was so overwhelming that when the audience began to learn of his infidelities and his failures as a man and a father it put them in a terrible bind. How could they hate this man? How could they judge him? They were complicit in his behavior. I was thrilled when he was rewarded with the Tony. He deserved it."
Brian Bedford in London Assurance and The Importance of Being Earnest
"I have always loved and admired an actor who can play high comedy with finesse and ease. Bedford makes it look easy. It isn't. He embodied the phrase 'less is more' and yet was so deliciously and correctly over-the top at the same time. Once again, the balance of seemingly contradictory traits led to truly great acting. He had the audience and me in stitches—and in the palm of his hand."