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re: Personal Bests
Posted by: DanielVincent 02:02 pm EDT 03/17/20
In reply to: Personal Bests - Pokernight 04:41 pm EDT 03/16/20

Donna Murphy brought Hello Dolly to a whole new level for me. She was as hilarious as, if not funnier than, Midler; more heartbreaking than Peters and Buckley; and so grounded in character, it was a master class. With her, Hello Dolly was an uproarious romp AND a tearjerker.

Brian (back then no Stokes) Mitchell as Valentin in Kiss of the Spider Woman--better in every way, especially vocally, than Anthony Crivello.

In A Doll's House Part 2, Julie White gave a performance that was arguably less virtuosic than Laurie Metcalf's, but allowed me to see the play more than the actress.

Despite getting some strong reviews and the Critic's Pick designation from the NY Times, the awards ceremonies pretty consistently snubbed the Sunset Blvd. revival, but I thought Michael Xavier was the best Joe Gillis I've seen since William Holden--gorgeously sung, seemingly spontaneous, crackling chemistry with both Close and Siobhan Dillon (who was also my favorite Betty Schaeffer).

Though I loved Mary Louise Parker in Proof, I liked Anne Heche even more. Her Catherine was softer yet more manic. When she put on the black dress that Claire bought her, rather than become the empowered sexual creature into which Parker had morphed, Heche seemed heartbreakingly ill at ease--like a little girl being forced to play dress up.

I can't compare the Chicago revival and the many tours it spawned to the original Fosse production, but, in looking at the various actors who've cycled through the Bobbie-Reinking production, Carol Woods has--BY FAR--been my favorite Mama Morton with thrilling vocals and expert comic timing. I also think I may have preferred Brent Barrett to James Naughton, though that's a tougher call.

A potentially controversial choice: my favorite Sweeney Todd pairing was Hugh Panaro and Carolee Carmello, though my favorite Lovett was Patti LuPone. With Panaro, I finally had a sense of who Benjamin Barker COULD have been had his family not been stolen from him. Carmello kept a laser-like focus on winning Sweeney over (everything she did was for him); in Doyle's production, LuPone had to deal with a lot of stylized choices that, I felt, often got in the way of the storytelling, but she too had an incredibly clear objective and her singing was breathtaking.

And, to cite two of the most acclaimed replacements in my lifetime (though I've only seen one mentioned in this specific thread), Reba in Annie Get Your Gun and Fantasia in The Color Purple.
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