Last week, the Village Voice’s print issue featured a survey of what the fall has to offer in several cultural categories: art, books, dance, film, music, television, theater, and more. To complement this coverage, the Voice has asked artists with new work premiering this season to share lists of pieces that have inspired them throughout their careers. In this installment, the actress Nia Vardalos — the star of Tiny Beautiful Things, which returns to the Public for previews this week and opens October 2 — shares five stage performances that have inspired her throughout her career.
Growing up in Canada, I witnessed the miracle of Viola Léger as she toured through my hometown of Winnipeg in a production of La Sagouine. The collection of monologues, written by New Brunswick author Antonine Maillet, tells the story of an Acadian cleaning lady. I heard Ms. Léger against the thud of my heartbeat, realizing that I was in the presence of greatness and recognizing my own ambition. I dared to dream that a solo piece was not improbable and could possibly be within the reach of my fingertips — if only I could learn how to write.
When I heard the harmonies and intricacies of Company, I knew I had to buy a headset so I could loudly sing all the parts in my car while pretending to be on my phone.
Dear Evan Hansen
When I watched Ben Platt have a breakdown while still perfectly hitting every note in Dear Evan Hansen, I quietly remembered why I love theater. I was so grateful for the immediacy, the fleeting moments of emotions authentically played, and the bonding of the audience experience. I also silently vowed to do my vocal warm-up before every performance.
I can’t wait to see Junk written by Ayad Akhtar — my pal Phillip James Brannon is making his Broadway debut!