I came to New York on a high school field trip, and Hairspray was the second Broadway show I ever saw. Matt's performance as Link Larkin gave me a mad case of butterflies for the next two days — my first real *crush* — hahaha!
I flew out to New York with my mom for the weekend and we got tickets 5th row center for a Sunday matinee of Aida. I remember so vividly being blown away by Simone's powerful performance. There were three standing ovations from the audience during the show.
Sutton Foster in Thoroughly Modern Millie
I witnessed a star being born.
Kelli O'Hara in The Light in the Piazza
Nuanced, heartfelt, gorgeous, groundbreaking. I didn't know who this beautiful, talented young woman was at the time, but she became my inspiration. (Had I known I would get to assume a role of hers in another Broadway show at that exact same theater just four years later, I'd have probably peed my pants.)
Cathy Rigby in Peter Pan
I actually saw this show on tour in my hometown of St. Paul, and it was the most magical thing I had ever seen. This musical/story holds a very special place in my heart, so seeing Cathy do it live left an impression of pure pixie dust!
Danny Burstein in South Pacific
So many glorious performances in this musical (most of which got recognized with Tony nominations), but I want to give a special shout out to dear Danny for his profound portrayal of Luther Billis. Richly layered and more complex than I've ever seen this character played, Danny's Billis was honest and husky yet heartbreaking all at once. What an honor to be his "Honey Bun" for a moment in time.
Joey (and Seth Numrich) in War Horse
Okay, so apparently Lincoln Center has been the host for several of my favorite performances... This magnificent horse was no puppet — Joey became a living, breathing organism before my very eyes. Kudos to those incredible teams of puppeteers. The play was so beautifully cinematic I kept forgetting I was at the theater. And, Joey is not complete without his Albert; the inseparable bond and chemistry was palpable between horse and boy, played by my talented friend Seth, whom I grew up doing theater with in Minnesota!
Lindsay Mendez in Dogfight
I get major friend-pride when I see my pals give brilliant performances. And, even though Dogfight was an Off-Broadway musical, I have to include Lindsay's performance in this because she left me wrecked and weeping, full-out ugly crying at the end of Act 1. I prayed that the lights would never come up for intermission because I knew I had mascara pouring down my face. I will never forget her "Pretty Funny" (perfectly composed by Pasek & Paul). In fact, do yourself a favor and watch her now.
I can't help it — another friend-pride moment. It's a known fact that this man opens his mouth and rainbows come out. Getting to witness Steve's "Soliloquy" from off stage every night in Chicago was a near-spiritual experience. I'm clearly not good at following the rules of this game because this was also not on Broadway. But Steve's Billy Bigelow deserves a spot in my favorite performances ever.
Lin-Manuel Miranda in Hamilton
Brilliant Genius. Duh.