Monday, June 11, 2012


The Antoinette Perry Award for Excellence in Theatre 

It was 1987 and I weighed 135 pounds.  Those were the days...

I was also an insecure girlfriend of the hunkiest guy I had ever met in my life, and was now in New York City meeting his family, a collective Broadway genius pack, and we were sitting in front of the TV watching the Tony Awards.  I had never watched them before.

My (soon to be)father-in-law had been in several productions of Man of La Mancha and Sound of Music, my (soon to be) “step-mother-in-law” had been in several productions of Sweet Charity and Jacques Brel Is Alive and Well and Living in Paris, and I was in their living room with another friend who I recognized from television.

“Oh!  Get a hook!” they shouted at one ingénue as she lagged her way through an acceptance speech.  I giggled, star struck by my future in laws and their friend. 

“Get off the stage!” they continued, saying that the girl was someone’s neice who had invested big money in the show. 

Today, my internet newspaper had news of the Tony’s:  a bittersweet romantic musical “Once” was the unexpectedly dominant winner at the 66th annual award show,  held to recognize achievement in live Broadway theatre.   It made me remember the day I watched the Tony's in New York... and I smiled.

I was refreshed to see that I had to look carefully to see the unknown stars of this year's winning shows.  I thanked God for the roles for these guys. 

Broadway is becoming more and more dominated (like Hollywood) with “names” rather than actors.  This year the trend went the other way:  “Once” and “Peter and the Starcatcher,” seemed risky but brilliant in the end, with their ensembles of little-known theater actors, instead of the big-budget or star-driven productions that often prevail on Tony night. 

While Philip Seymour Hoffman played Willy Loman in Death of a Salesman this year, and Andrew Garfield, who took on the part of his son, Biff, just after shooting the title role in the forthcoming “Amazing Spider-Man” movie, neither of them won a Tony for their performance. 
It made me smile to see that the winners were solid stage actors, James  Corden won best actor for One Man, Two Guvnors and Christian Borle, for Peter and the Starcatcher, as best supporting actor in a play. Both were unexpected upsets.

Back in Chev and Alice’s day, there were no microphones, and the art of projecting your voice and getting a line across to touch the back row or the standing room was a challenge.  Their voice excercizes and warm-ups were so state-of-the-art and successful that Alice was known for her “training tape” where voices were prepared for shows.  Nowadays, lighting, staging and sound are part of the new stage, and actors are not required to be the voice giants that they used to be. 

As the stage becomes less of what it used to be, the Tony’s are still the gauge of what kind of a year it was – and this year was big, fat musicals with stage actors and voices. 

It makes me happy to see. 

In my back pocket of my identity is my relationship to Broadway.  I would roll my eyes as my parents played the soundtracks to the original Broadway Cast of Man of La Mancha while we were in our car driving around town.  It used to embarrass me, being so “show-tunes” loving.  I had no idea that much later, when they played the same record during dinner when they first met Mario, he would say,

“You’re probably not going to believe me, but that’s my dad singing.”

All of those years of not appreciating Broadway melted away and I realized that I had been prepared, in a secret and special way, to understand the beauty and majesty of Broadway.  I suddenly became a fan.
The day I saw the Tony Awards with my in-laws was one of the most memorable days of my life.  I got to hear their perspectives on theatres, stages, actors, directors and “what’s being put on” these days.  It made me an insider to the vigor and joy; the flattening rejection; the dark and the glorious life of the New York stage. 

My beloved father-in-law is no longer with us, after making his final curtain call a few years back.  Alice, my beautiful larger-than-life- mother-in-law, still sings on stage, and delights clubs in upstate New York when she goes back home....  I will call her later to see what she thought of the awards. 
I can guarantee that I will giggle, still star-struck at her reactions.  

My brother-in-law, Stephen with Chev Rogers, and Alice Evans, my Broadway in-laws 

 Chev, Me, Hechter Ubarry, and Mario after a La Mancha cast party


Alice and Chev, after a Sweet Charity cast party

 Me and Alice, just after Christmas last year