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Cynthia Nixon

Cynthia Nixon, photographed by Maarten De Boer.

Tony and Emmy Award winner Cynthia Nixon has played everyone from Jean Brodie to Eleanor Roosevelt, but the role that got away was Agnes Gooch. I’m too old now, but I always really wanted to do Gooch,” she says. “Because if she sings badly, it’s fine, you know?” If the third lead in Mame seems like an unlikely Everest, keep in mind that Nixon is obsessed with musicals. She and Sarah Jessica Parker used to sing showtunes during long nights on the set of “Sex and the City,” and these days she still listens mostly to cast recordings. For her dream Encores! show, Nixon selected The Golden Apple, Jerome Moross and John Latouche’s exquisite, brainy “opera for Broadway,” which retells the Greek myths of Helen, Paris, Ulysses, and Penelope through the lens of American folklore. Although the 1954 musical closed on Broadway after four months, it has since acquired a merry, fanatical band of admirers.

CITY CENTER: How did you discover The Golden Apple?
CYNTHIA NIXON: My mother. I was very immersed in musicals growing up—which is what Steve, the play that I’m directing at The New Group, is so much about: people who live for musicals, and live through musicals. I certainly fit into that category, and I’ve done it to my children. (laughs) I’ve also done it to my wife, who was not a musical comedy person at all before she met me. My mother steeped me in musical theater, and we used to play the Golden Apple record. Then I was lucky enough to see a production of it, which is unusual, at the York Theater [in 1978] when I was still a kid. I knew the show inside out by the time I saw it.

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November 13, 2015 by New York City Center
Chenoweth Photo

Kristin Chenoweth, photographed by John Russo.

In our series My Dream Encores! Show, actors, writers, and directors discuss little-known Broadway musicals that they’d like to see revived by our Encores! series. Tony and Emmy Award winner Kristin Chenoweth is a frequent Encores! star whose new live album, Coming Home, will be released on November 17. For her dream Encores! show, Chenoweth selected Steel Pier, the 1997 Kander & Ebb musical about a stunt pilot who returns from the dead to dance in one of the tawdry dance marathons that became faddish during the Great Depression. Chenoweth appeared in the original production as the scheming marathon newbie Precious McGuire.

CITY CENTER: Why Steel Pier?
KRISTIN CHENOWETH: I still have a little thing in my craw about it not getting what it deserved all those years ago on Broadway. It had one of the best scores in a Broadway show ever, by Kander and Ebb. Oh my god—it’s Busby Berkeley, it’s cabaret, it’s operetta, it’s everything. John Kander wrote me an aria in that. That is an aria, a “Glitter and Be Gay” aria. And there’s a song called “First You Dream” that I can’t help but cry when I hear it.  To this day, I pull out the CD and listen to the score, and I think, “Has anybody else listened to this?” It had incredible dancing. The plot was very interesting. There might be some tiny things with the story, but it was so special, and it didn’t get what it deserved. And this was my Broadway debut in a musical. I had done a play on Broadway, Scapin, before that. But this was it. I was devastated when it closed after five months.

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November 14, 2014 by New York City Center