Earlier this month Andrew Rannells picked up his second Tony nomination, this time for Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical for his comedic, yet moving work as Whizzer. As Marvin’s lover in the critically acclaimed revival of William Finn and James Lapine's Falsettos, Rannells’ Whizzer confronts his AIDS diagnosis with a mix of comedy, anger, fear, and dignity. The Girls star was previously Tony-nominated for creating the role of Elder Price, who longs for Orlando but ends up finding many of life’s truths in Africa, in the Tony-winning The Book of Mormon. Here, the gifted singing actor shares ten of the Broadway performances that most affected him as part of the audience.
Rannells, who chose all women, said his list was just the “tip of the iceberg,” adding, “I have lived in New York for 20 years and have gotten to see some insanely amazing theatre. But I think this is a pretty good start.”
I would have paid full price just to watch her sing “Invisible.” Her ability to be strong and vulnerable at the same time is incredible. I'm always in awe of her.
I called out of Hairspray to see it Off-Broadway (don’t tell anyone), and I got to see it again on Broadway when it transferred. What a performance. Hilarious and seconds later heartbreaking. In those final moments of the show, I watched her tears hit the stage. And I was crying right along with her.
Technically I never got to see her from the audience, but I would watch her sing “Sal Tlay Ka Siti” nearly every night, and she always broke my heart. I love that lady.
I loved this performance so much that I immediately bought tickets to see it again... from the front row. (I know. It was very aggressive.) I was in rehearsals for The Book of Mormon, the workshop, and watching her was like taking an acting intensive. She was so honest and so still. I always learn so much about storytelling from watching her.
Toni Collette in The Wild Party
I was 21, didn’t have a lot of cash, but I managed to scrape together enough money to see this show twice just so I could watch Toni Collette. There was something dangerous about her onstage. You really felt like she was going to break down at any minute. I was mesmerized.
Fiona Shaw in Medea
When I think about the final moments of that show, I still get chills. She was terrifying and beautiful.
I had never seen a Laura that was trying so hard to be resilient and strong. It made Laura even more devastating at the end of that show. Celia was able to keep the strength and fire that makes her so appealing but marry it with Laura’s fragility. I just love her.
Jessica Lange in Long Day's Journey Into Night
That is an acting marathon, and Jessica Lange performed with such grace and ease. She owned every second of that show, every moment. And no one plays madness or rage like Jessica Lange. She is the best.
Amy Morton in August: Osage County
One of the most nuanced and natural performances I have ever seen. You felt like you were spying on someone in their home. Man, she is incredible.
Laurie Metcalf in The Other Place
I can’t imagine tackling the language of that show alone, not to mention the challenge of layering in the character’s struggle with dementia. I admire Laurie Metcalf immensely. The stories she chooses to tell are incredibly inspiring personally and professionally.
Check out footage from the recent Broadway revival of Falsettos below: