When Actors’ Equity decided to publish a history of its first 100 years, the union turned to an artist perfectly suited to capturing the great stars of the past century: Broadway.com’s own Justin “Squigs” Robertson. The newly released coffee table book Performance of the Century (Applause) includes a wraparound cover in which Squigs immortalizes the most famous performances of dozens of stage greats.
“I took my lead from the landmark performances described in the book,” says Robertson, who included musicals (Ethel Merman in Gypsy, Lin-Manuel Miranda in In the Heights, Carol Channing in Hello, Dolly!) and dramas (Marlon Brando in A Streetcar Named Desire, James Earl Jones in The Great White Hope, B.D. Wong in M. Butterfly) from all eras. “Certain people are iconic, so I wanted to make sure they were included.”
To recreate performances he is too young to have seen, Robertson consulted photo files and did internet research. A special element at the top of the cover is Ethel Barrymore posing as the “the spirit of Equity” in front of a map representing the national reach of theater. “The goal was to celebrate the diversity of the union as far as age, gender and the ethnic background of its members,” he explains.
The bottom corner of the cover spotlights Richard Kiley in Man of La Mancha, a show close to Squigs’ heart: “I was playing Sancho in a California production of the show when I got the call” to work on Performance of the Century. The book makes a great holiday gift and endless fun in spotting your favorite shows and stars, from Julie Andrews and Rex Harrison My Fair Lady to Stephen Spinella and Ellen McLaughlin Angels in America.