Throughout history, art has reflected the time in which it was created, whether it serves as a mirror for the present, a reminder of days long gone, or a glimpse into the future. Those who appreciate art often look to it for guidance, or inspiration. Hamilton gives a gritty edge to what has often been a whitewashed history lesson. Camelot presents a magical, idealistic take on the rules of governance. If ever there was a time to have both shows running on Broadway, I think now is that time.
So, the 70th Annual Tony Awards are in the books, and it was a great night! I spent the evening with about a dozen friends, and we had a viewing party. It was awesome! It was like we were in the Beacon Theatre, well, except that we had snacks and weren’t quite as dressed up as the Tony-goers were. And our ballots weren’t quite official.
So, there’s this little show happening on Sunday night. Most of America could care less, but for those of us who LOVE Broadway – it’s our Super Bowl! It’s almost Tony time!!! As a kid growing up in California, I looked forward to this every year. (I know you’re nodding your head right now if you grew up anywhere other than New York thinking, “Me, too!”) It was my only chance to see the people who were on the records (yes, RECORDS) of the Original Broadway Cast recordings that I listened to and memorized religiously.
Should you be an understudy, a standby, a swing? It’s kind of a vague question, but usually the undercurrent there is that once you become known as a reliable cover, you’ll be an understudy forever. You could ask Shirley MacLaine, Anthony Hopkins, Bernadette Peters, Taye Diggs, Matthew Morrison, or Lea Michelle; they all started out as understudies and moved on to exceptional careers. But let’s backtrack a little, what’s the actual difference in these special stage roles? Each of these positions holds its own unique advantages and challenges.
Standing on the stage of the Richard Rodgers Theatre, after a quiet Sunday matinee of Hamilton, I looked out into the gilded, empty house, and thought, “What would Hamilton think of ALL THIS?”
My first night in town I waited at the stage door to ride the train home with a friend in the cast. I thought to myself, “Why is there a fifty year old man standing in a planter box waiting for a glimpse of these people he doesn’t even know? Why are people screaming SO loudly? WHY CAN’T I JUST WALK ON THE SIDEWALK!?” I’d never seen a stage door so reminiscent of a Hollywood red carpet. And they’re all here to watch a play.