June 7, 2015.
The Tony Awards.
Other awards shows are grander, flashier, and better-funded, but what could be classier than celebrating the Great White Way in Radio City Musical Hall with the top tier performers of the day? Thespians far and wide await this day for the entire year… …And I missed it for rehearsal.
Melodramatically devastated, I recorded it and wallowed in self-pity for the rest of the evening. I couldn’t remember the last time I missed the Tonys since I had begun taking theatre seriously. I trudged to rehearsal with the desperate hope that maybe the powers that be would change their minds and cancel. They didn’t. Once I got there, I was immediately entranced. Music flowed as the newly gathered band rehearsed before the cast’s call time. The aura of the live music transported me back to my very first opening night in 2001 at Workshop Theatre in Gypsy, as most live orchestration does to me. I feel the excitement of the overture and re-experience the rush of adrenaline before my first performance—the magic of live theatre when each integral element comes together to make a whole.
… And that was just a rehearsal.
After it was all said and done, I went home, went to bed, and watched the Tonys in the morning. Sure, it wasn’t as exciting as it would have been live; I didn’t get to live-tweet it, much to my chagrin, and I already knew who won Best Leading Actress in a Musical (Go Kelli!), but the magic was still there. Somewhere, the spark of excitement in a little girl’s heart performing for the first time was still a part of my experience. That’s the magic of it all. That’s why we rehearse for countless hours. That’s why we perform multiple times a week. Somewhere, deep down, there’s that memory of when you first fell in love with theatre, whether as a performer or an audience member. Sounds cheesy, right?
As cliché as it may sound, it’s true. People often find serenity, solace, and even sanctuary in the theatre. For many, they were able to pursue their passions; for some, they were finally able to just be themselves.
We finally live in a time in which a kid can see musical theatre completely written by women win the Tony for the first time ever. When a kid can see an Asian woman take home a Tony for only the second time. When a kid can listen to another young girl sing a song about identity when so often kids are told their thoughts and feelings aren’t valid. We finally live in a time that a kid can see an openly LGBTQ+ person host the Tonys. We are so lucky that a young kid can see a woman, who has been nominated five times previously, continue to follow her dreams and finally take home a Tony. We are so lucky to finally live in this time.
… And so am I.
I am incredibly lucky to have theatre in my life. It taught me about diversity from an early age. It taught me discipline. It taught me more than words can express. While I deigned to go to rehearsal in that selfish moment, I now look back and delight in the fact that I was able to create with other people who so wonderfully and passionately commit to their performances. This is what we do—we create so that some kid in the audience, some first-time performer, or even a veteran to the stage can experience the magic.
For a list of this year's Tony winners go here.
Be sure to catch Dream Girls at Trustus Theatre this summer! The show runs June 26-August 1. Go to trustus.org for tickets.