I always have to take a few days to look back in retrospect before writing anything about a recent experience. My husband and I returned to Seattle from New York late last Tuesday and had to jump right back into our busy life in Gig Harbor. It’s now one week later, and I can finally sit down and ruminate about our New York City visit.
The Light in the Piazza Benefit Concert on Lincoln Center’s Vivian Beaumont stage was a very emotional journey. What really amazed me was how great everyone looked and sounded after all this time. Below is a backstage photo of me as Signora that Mark Harelik took ten years ago in the LCT hallway. In fact, Kelli O’Hara kept saying how we must all do the revival before it was too late since everyone could still perform their roles as if no time had passed at all. Alas, we all knew that the night of April 4th, 2016 would be the last time we would re-visit this extraordinary piece, and experience the sheer brilliance of it’s score and book. I will continue to believe until my last breath that Piazza is a masterpiece that surpassed Spamalot, Spelling Bee and all of the other musicals of that Season, and should have won Tony Awards for both the Book and Best Musical…period!
As far as the personal side of our trip. It was so great to spend time with a few friends; Frank M., Rick S., and some students who are now courageously taking on the Great White Way as actors. I am so proud of them, and no matter what their experiences turn out to be, I think they are successful just by being there.
The first night we arrived we took a stroll around the Upper West Side and it was a walk down memory lane including having dinner at the same restaurant where I had brunch back in the early 1980’s before arriving at the theater for a matinee of “A Doll’s Life” and receiving the panicked news from the Stage Manager that I was going on in the lead. These were the days without iPhones, or even pagers so there was no way to get a hold of me. I walked into the stage door at 1:20pm for a 2:00pm show. All I know is that I didn’t have a rehearsal in the role of Nora since the piece had moved to NY from L.A., so needless to say, that was a memory never to be forgotten. The restaurant has a different name now, but still has the same atmosphere and lay out it had so many years ago.
Next were the diners; they are the BEST! Crazy fast service, mediocre food that’s affordable and just the ticket for busy New Yorkers. Then of course there was a lot of walking, but now let’s talk about the weather! The first couple of days were so warm and beautiful, and then came the cold snap. OH THE WIND! It cut through us like a knife, but I was lucky to be in rehearsal at LCT for most of the time, and didn’t have to deal with it too much. I was happy that we had a chance to see the first apartment building we lived in when we first got to New York in August, 1984. That brought back a lot of memories as well.
Another memory gift was seeing the Broadway musical “Bright Star” which I had performed down in San Diego when I had my “cardiac event”! Walter Bobbie, the director, graciously arranged two tickets for us, and I was so happy to see the many changes and the addition of some new songs. I loved it! The sweet, uplifting moments all set in the intimacy of a Broadway theater usually housing plays. The best part was going backstage to hug on all of the cast members that were still performing the show. And getting to see the wonderful William Youmans who along with myself, was one of the original cast members of Big River back in 1984. It was very special getting to see him after thirty two years. My thoughts and hopes are with Ms. Carmen Cusack to not only be nominated, but also win the Tony Award for Best Actress in A Musical because she would be deserving. I know that the competition will be stiff, but I loved her work, and I love her as a person. She is amazing!
The day of the concert came too quickly, and what I will remember the most is the extraordinary orchestra playing that score. On Sunday we had the Sitzprobe in the morning and all I did was cry so I wisely had the good sense to place a handkerchief in my dress top the night of the performance. We had just completed the Octet and sat back down. I was doing well until the last three songs, and slowly and carefully pulled the hankie out and into my hand. By the time I was to stand up and take Signor’s arm for the final chords; it was soaked as I knew it would be. Everyone in the audience and onstage were crying, and backstage was a plethora of red eyes, laughter, hugs, congratulations, and sheer relief that it had gone so perfectly. Bravo all!
One of my favorite moments was finally seeing my very handsome husband backstage in his new blue suit. It is beautiful, and perfect. He of course took care of everyone who came back to say hello, and carried my too heavy theater bag as we headed over to the elegant dinner at Lincoln Center’s concert hall mezzanine. The food was excellent, the wine perfect, the company entertaining, and the good-byes heartfelt and special.
The following morning we packed and checked out of our hotel, left the luggage at the front desk, and took the subway down to the 911 Memorial.
Neither one of us had been back in ten years, and it is a very touching, and profound place. The Freedom Tower, the last surviving tree that was saved, the two pools; I cried and could not stop thinking of all the families and friends who lost their loved ones that September morning. God Bless them all! We must never waste one precious moment we are given here in life, and never forget what happened on 9/11/01.
My gratitude to all of the amazing personnel at Lincoln Center Theatre is beyond description, and a special thank you to Andre Bishop, Adam Siegel, and Matthew Markoff. This amazing and special experience could never have happened without you, and……
It’s good to be home!