Jay Johnson Hopes to Bring Tony-Nominated Two and Only Back to New York

Tony Awards   Jay Johnson Hopes to Bring Tony-Nominated Two and Only Back to New York Jay Johnson, whose solo show Jay Johnson: The Two and Only! was nominated for a 2007 Tony Award for Best Special Theatrical Event, hopes to eventually bring his acclaimed production back to New York.
Jay Johnson with Bob in The Two and Only.
Jay Johnson with Bob in The Two and Only. Photo by Carol Rosegg

The show, which celebrates the art of ventriloquism, will kick off a national tour in Ithaca, NY, in October. "We're going to start in the fall, start small, work up," Johnson told Playbill.com at the annual Tony nominees press reception. "I hope someday to come back and play New York again for some time."

Johnson, who is perhaps best known for his several-year stint on the award-winning ABC series "Soap," says his Broadway run was something he never really expected. "It seemed to be out of my reach, just as a Tony nomination might have been at the time," he says. "I just wanted to perform in theatres rather than clubs. I wanted that theatrical experience rather than the supper-club experience. So that was my goal, [but] to get to perform at the apex of that venue was great.

"Just to walk on [to a Broadway] stage and to know how many people have walked on that stage [before you]," he adds, "there's nothing like that feeling, and you are absolutely a part of it."

The Two and Only!, which opened at the Helen Hayes Theatre in September 2006 after an acclaimed Off-Broadway run, featured several "co-stars": Amigo, Darwin, Long John La Feat, Nethernore — the Bird of Death, Spaulding, Arthur Drew, Jackie and Ga Ga, Squeaky and Bob. The latter, the infamous sidekick of the famed ventriloquist, was recently acquired by the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History.

"There was an original Bob that we used on 'Soap,'" Johnson explains, "and later we had a duplicate made that was a little bit better, so that particular Bob was used for a couple of years on the show. You wouldn't recognize the difference because it's mainly mechanics that we changed, but that original Bob went into the Smithsonian Institute [May 15]. He will sit with Charlie McCarthy and Jerry Mahoney and Kermit the Frog. . . . That is — as incredible as this [Tony] experience has been — a whole other incredible experience."

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