Last night was an explosion of dreams and reality meeting. I've watched the Tony Awards for the past decade in complete awe of the brilliance that is the Broadway theatre community, but I never imagined I'd one day watch them on TV backstage and minutes later be performing on that same stage. Here's my recap of the fun-filled day with Beautiful: The Carole King Musical.
The full company was called to our theatre at 10:30 AM to get into wigs, make-up and costumes. Our fabulous backstage crew was there much earlier than us preparing the 26 wigs, costumes and mics needed to travel to Radio City Music Hall.
After we were all dressed, we boarded the bus to dress rehearsal. As we walked into Radio City we hugged all of our friends in the cast of Violet, who were on their way out. As we were waiting for our turn to take the stage, we got to watch Sting perform from his new musical The Last Ship. The next performance made me squeal like a 13-year-old girl at a Justin Bieber concert. My best friend Christine Dwyer is currently making her Broadway debut as Elphaba in Wicked. I had no idea that Wicked's performance was right before Beautiful's. Watching your friend go from singing "The Wizard and I" in a classroom at The Hartt School to singing "For Good" on the Tonys releases involuntarily, high-pitched, musical-theatre whistle tones.
After I gathered my composure, it was our turn to take the stage. Watching Carole King introduce our show was emotional on all parts. You could tell in her delivery how much this show means to her. And, to share the stage with her was an unbelievable honor. Everything during rehearsal went smoothly, we packed up the Beautiful camp and headed back to the Sondheim for our matinee.
Post matinee was relaxation time. I pressed and ironed my outfit for the post-show party and had a little dinner. In Liz Larzen's dressing room some of the cast watched NY1's coverage of the Tonys Red Carpet. More squeals were produced when Jessie Mueller, Anika Larsen and Jarrod Spector were interviewed. There's something special about watching people from your show fly and be noticed for their great work, especially when those people are sweet — you kinda want them to win everything.
Our lovely producers set up a television in our theatre's lobby so we could watch the telecast before we performed. Hugh Jackman's opening was so clever! He really showed Broadway that he's a song-and-dance man this year. And, After Midnight… I mean Fantasia, Patti LaBelle and Gladys Knight — enough said. For the next hour and a half we all repeated the steps to get ready, loaded onto the bus and, at 9:35 PM, we were off.
This time, once we arrived at Radio City, we sat on our bus for a little while before being brought backstage into a stairwell to wait. Moments later we were "on deck" awaiting our turn while Wicked was performing (cue tears). Before the commercial break there was a TV shot with Hugh Jackman and Jessie near the piano. I really had no idea what the shot was, but we were told to act, and so I did my best "back-ting" (back-acting) that I could.
Now, Stage Right we got to watch Hugh Jackman perform with LL Cool J and T.I. My mouth was agape because I had somehow missed this part in dress rehearsal. I kept looking at the TV screen then to my left at the stage to see if my mind was playing tricks on me, but it wasn't. THIS WAS REAL! LL Cool J and T.I. exited on Stage Right and gave us all hellos and high fives.
Carole King appeared again, introducing us, and before I knew it I was on the lip of the Radio City stage, in front of 6,000 people, shaking my booty with the "Earth moving under my feet." We could feel the electricity from the audience; it's something I will never forget.
We all rushed back to the bus in an effort to get back to our lobby telecast to see Jessie's category be announced. We made it back to the theatre with a commercial break to spare and gathered around the TV. When she won, the entire cast erupted in tears, cheers and champagne.
I got dressed and headed to the after party where I met my date, Tony Award winner Lillias White. Lillias and I have become very close this year because my writing partner, Ethan Pakchar, and I are developing a new musical for her as the star.
The party was pure joy. A round of thunderous applause came when Jessie Mueller entered the room. The whole cast was rooting for her, so it was incredible to see her come out on top.
By 2:30 AM I was still reeling and full of food and happy. The night ended with a hug and a kiss from Lillias and a cab ride home to take it all in. It was a full night of Broadway, and I honestly will never get enough of it. Congrats to all the winners and nominees of 2014 and to my family at Beautiful.
The next time I appear at the Tony Awards, I want to be nominated for Best Score with Lyons & Pakchar. Yesterday proved that my dreams aren't "So Far Away."