2016 is shaping up to be my very favorite year. Why? Because I made my Broadway debut in the original musical Waitress and then got to perform on the Tony Awards last night!!!!!!!!! Two checks off the ole bucket list in a matter of months! What is life?
Yesterday morning, I woke up, worked out and headed to the Brooks Atkinson for our 11 AM call time (Tony nominees Jessie Mueller and Christopher Fitzgerald had to be there at 8 AM. How did they survive the day?). After hearing of the unspeakable tragedy that occurred in Orlando that morning, it felt wrong to celebrate anything. The whole Broadway community was shaken, and rightly so. But the only real way to combat hatred is with love (and, you know, gun control), and there is a lot of love in this community. Dedicating the Tonys to the victims and those affected by the tragedy in Orlando felt right. We all got into full costume and hair in preparation for our Tony dress rehearsal and were determined to spread a little love and light that evening!
The cast boarded a fancy bus to the Beacon, and the realization of where we were headed and what we were about to do started to kick in. There are a lot of Broadway debuts in the cast of Waitress, and even more Tony-performance debuts! We all grew up watching the Tonys, and now we were about to be a part of it! Our excitement was palpable.
As Eric Anderson, who plays Cal in Waitress, put it, “It's like Disney World, but for Broadway.” We walked in, and to the left was everyone from The Color Purple. A few moments later we were high-fiving the cast of Hamilton and saying our hellos to the Spring Awakening folk! Everyone was in costume, everyone was beaming, everyone exuded love and happiness and support. It was such a dream come true to be there, and it felt truly magical.
After what felt like the quickest run-thru of our performance in history, we immediately boarded the bus again and headed back to the Brooks for our matinee. We made it within 20 minutes till curtain!
After the show, we all had some time to kill. Before being a part of the Tonys, I was under the impression that everyone performing got to hang at the venue and watch the show up until performance time—this is not so! It’s a bus-in-right-before-performance and bus-out-right-after-performance situation. My cast and I started to prep for the evening at 8 PM at the Brooks (for this occasion, I wore false eyelashes… you know, for CBS) and watched a live stream of the show on various smartphones and iPads in dressing rooms and in stairwells. We even watched on the bus heading to the Beacon!
Highlights of the evening pre-performance:
- Watching the cast of The Color Purple absolutely kill it with the cast of Hamilton (Leslie Odom, Jr., I love you so much and didn’t want to be that girl and ask to get a picture with you, but now I wish I had been that girl. Congrats on your Tony!).
- Stocking up on some free Coach pins in the green room (I hope they were free?).
- Breathing the same air as Steve Martin.
- My multiple trips to the photo booth (it was free, I couldn’t help it!).
- Walking past Common and Audra and Claire Danes and everyone on our way to the stage.
I was a nervous wreck leading up to our performance. I was furiously blowing on my palms to keep them from sweating (I was about to throw a menu up in the air and swirl a pie around on national television. I was not about to drop those babies). Stephanie Torns, aka Francine Pomatter, and I gripped each other’s shoulders in the wings listening to Keri Russell, the original Jenna Hunterson (Also, could she be more beautiful? That face! That bod! AND SHE JUST HAD A BABY), announce us. As soon as the music started, I 100 percent blacked out. People tell me the performance went well. I’ve decided to believe them.
Afterwards, everyone was so joyous and celebratory at our after party! We laughed! We cried! We hugged! We kissed! We indulged (so much wine, so many risotto balls, so much water to drink and working out to do today)!
I had an amazing time until I aggressively danced up against Sara Bareilles and spilled her drink all over her dress. She was lovely about it, but I’m still mourning the loss of what I’m sure could have been a lifelong best-friendship.
Overall, a great night. Maybe my most magical yet.
View more pictures from the night below!
Inside the Tonys With Molly Hager
Molly Hager plays Jenna’s Mother in Waitress. Follow her on Twitter at @yesmollyhager.