Angela Lansbury ___
Audra McDonald ___
Bebe Neuwirth ___
Betty Buckley ___
Carol Channing ___
Chita Rivera ___
Debra Monk ___
Donna McKechnie ___
Donna Murphy ___
Elaine Stritch ___
Idina Menzel ___
Judy Kaye ___
Karen Ziemba ___
Kristin Chenoweth ___
Laura Benanti ___
Leslie Uggams ___
Lillias White ___
Patti LuPone ___
Sutton Foster ___
Tonya Pinkins ___
Victoria Clark ___
1. Actually, my introduction to regional theater was Souvenir because Arizona Theater Company wanted to do it after we closed way too quickly on Broadway. With that one I was really licking my wounds. That one I had a personal and emotional investment in and still do.
2. But at the Tonys people were saying, “Oh, well, you finally lost.” And I was ecstatic: “Hooray! I finally lost!” It happened, it’s no big deal, the world didn’t come to an end, I don’t think my career was in the toilet because I have now not won a Tony.
3. Grizabella is one of my great teachers. It took me so long to find her. I feel like she’s one of my life companions or a soul mate. She’s not me; she’s herself, and I get to lend my soul to her, to bring life to her song. It’s a beautiful, beautiful piece and it keeps evolving for me every time I do it.
4. I admired Lucille Ball tremendously. She had also come backstage several times to see me, so I knew she had her eye on it. I can never forgive Warner Brothers for not letting me do it because I think it could have been a huge movie.
5. I liked [Noel Coward] right away and I loved his talent. I heard his records after that. I didn’t know anything about [him]. You don’t think “now I have to investigate this playwright.”
6. I remember Taye and I read a review and it was really scathing about both of us. Ben Brantley wrote something like, “They should each take a little of whatever the other has. He’s too subdued and she’s too shrill and hyper.”
7. I thought, “Some tall showgirl is going to get that part. They get everything, the tall people!” But I got it and that was the first time in my life that I felt, “I’m gonna make it. My way.” John Kander wrote a whole new aria for me.
8. I was at the opening of God of Carnage and a reporter comes up to me . . . and Marcia Gay Harden, who was up against me when I won the Tony, is right behind me. It’s her opening night. And he says, “So you won Marcia Gay’s Tony?” I looked at him and I said, “No, I won my Tony.”
9. I went back and they had me sing every note that Effie sings. Everything. Michael Bennett puts his arm around me and says, “Ok, when you go to LA, you’ll stand by for Jennifer Holiday. You’ll go on because she’s out a lot.”
10. I would crouch in the wings and watch Patti LuPone stop the show dead cold. It was really joyful. I walked walked by her dressing room once and she was vocalizing or humming. I go, “Hey Patti, would you teach me how to sing.” And she says “Sure doll, you teach me how to dance.” Fabulous.
11. I would look directly into the audience and I learned to open my heart to that and take it in. Somebody loves me. And all I have to do is take my clothes off.
12. In the musical, I played Alice Beane, second-class passenger. I found the woman that my character was based on. Her name was actually Ethel, not Alice. And I found her family outside of Rochester. I called and learned a lot of things. In the show Edgar, Alice’s husband, dies, but in real life, her husband lived. He was one of the people picked up in the lifeboats.
13. No, it took years to put Sunset in the past. Years. Because it was an assault, it was napalm. Agent Orange.
14. Now I know why I’ve got this new hip! But it’s like war wounds. It’s medals. It’s great. It’s a sign of working hard. It’s a Michael Kidd hip or a Jack Cole thing in the neck.
15. She’s still my favorite Velma to play opposite. She shares the scenes with you—singing with you as one, dancing with you as one, the way Bob Fosse meant for it to be when he created the roles with Gwen Verdon and Chita Rivera. Bebe and I were a great team.
16. Thank God for Michael Bennett in my life. He really liked my style and he really liked the way his work looked on my body.
17. The cue card guy is walking ahead of me with the cards. He hit a thing of mud, he slipped and he was gone. I can’t find him. The camera’s still going, I have no idea what the hell I’m singing but I got to keep going. You can’t stop the show. So whatever came out of my mouth is what came out of my mouth. . . . I just remembered “Because it’s June!”
18. The year that she did Funny Girl, she was fabulous! We used to be good friends. We would eat dinner between shows at Sardi’s with Bea Lillie who was doing High Spirits. But we were friends. And we’d say “You’re gonna get the Tony Award.” “No you’re gonna get it.” I got the award.
19. Tony day I was really, really freaked out. We were going to do “Forget About the Boy” and I was so excited to do that. I remember right before the performance, Gregory Hines came by and tapped our desks and wished us luck.
20. We never did the same show twice and that largely had to do with the fact there were things that Toni [Collette] just wouldn’t do. Like conflict. So here we have a poem that doesn’t have any conflict, and every time they try to impose it, Toni says things like, “Well, if she did that to me, I’d just leave,” and she would leave.
21. Yeah, exactly. I remember thinking when I was nominated, “This is going to be so much fun because I know that Julie Andrews is going to win. No pressure.”