THEIR FAVORITE THINGS: Giant Composer Michael John LaChiusa Shares His Theatregoing Experiences

By Andrew Gans
June 12, 2013

Playbill.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 five-time Tony-nominated composer-lyricist-librettist Michael John LaChiusa, whose new musical Giant was recently released on CD by Ghostlight Records.



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

 

Merrily We Roll Along (1981, Broadway)

 

"I saw three previews and was mesmerized by the score and book and stunned by how angry the audience around me was. I couldn't understand then what was making people so pissed off, but I knew I wanted to write shows that did that."

 

 

Noises Off (1983, Broadway)

 

"A study in tidal wave energy — waves of laughter. It's probably the last time I felt that incredible sensation of floating on an ocean of laughter, and all of it earned with intelligence, wit and class."

 

Romance Language (1984, Playwrights Horizons)
 

 

"I saw this, like most of my favorite theatre experiences, when I was young and early in my career. The humor and bold vision of Peter Parnell's play instructed me and still inspires me."

Danitra Vance in The Colored Museum (1986, The Public Theater)

 

"Oh, what the world lost when Danitra was taken from us! A fearless talent and wonderful woman. I try to emulate her, but mostly fail."

 

 

Madeline Kahn in The Sisters Rosensweig (1992, Lincoln Center Theater)

 

"Her performance changed the way I looked at actors and what I've come to expect from the actors I work with. She made music from the dialogue — seemed to sing the text. Gorgeous, indeed." 

 

 

Donna Murphy in Passion (1994, Broadway)

 

"I didn't know a musical actor could chart such fiery and dark territory — or be as brave to do so. She's my iconoclastic hero."

 

The Seven Streams of the River Ota (1996, BAM)

 

"Epic and daring; brilliant and frighteningly beautiful, this was a gift from Robert Lepage and Ex Machina. It's an eight-hour journey into the human condition that I've never been able to shake."

 

Audra McDonald (Marie Christine, 1999, Broadway) and Mary Testa (Queen of the Mist, 2011, Transport Group)

 

"For the last 20 years, most of my time's been spent rehearsing and putting up my own shows, so it's impossible to not mention two of my favorite performers in roles I wrote for them. I'm blessed to have these remarkable women in my life. Which leads me to…"

The final performance of The Wild Party (2000, Broadway)

 

"As George Wolfe famously said after the curtain came down, 'When they run you out of town, get out in front and make it a parade.' A stunning performance by a stunning cast. Which leads me to…"

 

 

Every actor who's ever been in a show of mine, including my most recent, Giant 
 

 

"I figure if you can make it through one of my scores and still have half a brain left, you are one talented motherf*cker."