by Kerstin Anderson
Well it’s Tony Award time! Usually this means gathering with a group of friends in front of the TV, dolling out Hershey kisses for correctly guessing the winners, and lots of shushing when the performances are on. But, this year I’m getting a whole new perspective on Tony broadcast. This past April, I made my Broadway debut in Lincoln Center Theater’s My Fair Lady, and on June 10 I’m making my Tony debut (is that a thing?)!
The first thing they told us was that we would be doing a medley that includes all of our nominees (except Dame Diana Rigg ... but she’s Dame Diana Rigg so she didn’t mind) and the entire ensemble. Next we found out that all of our incredible swings would be performing with us: a first for Lincoln Center and very exciting! They work so hard and we love them so much. The entire company was thrilled when we heard we would get to share the Tony stage with them. After much celebration it was time to get to work.
Our first rehearsal was focused on the broad strokes of our performance. What songs would be included, how would we transition between them, would anyone need to do a quick change? Luckily we have a team of experienced pros at the helm. Bart Sher had a fairly clear idea of how he wanted the performance to progress. An intimate start with a single focus, then incrementally zoom out further and further until finally the entire stage was being used. What I really admire about our team of actors and creatives is their dedication to storytelling; Every choice they made was based on how to best communicate the journey of the characters and show our interpretation of My Fair Lady. In the following rehearsals we worked out all the details. Bart, Christopher Gattelli, and Ted Sperling worked together to answer the big overarching question: How would we fit our nearly three hour show into a four-minute time slot? This proved to be a bit of a challenge. You’ll have to tune in on the 10th to see how they worked their magic.
Among all the questions, one thing was certain: I was elated. Growing up in Vermont, an aspiring actor, I was so moved by the broadcast. I distinctly remember the 2013 Neil Patrick Harris opening number. You know the one where he looked right into the camera and said, “There’s a kid in the middle of nowhere living for Tony performances… [and] I promise you, all of us up here tonight, we were that kid,” and the audience of celebrities gave it a standing ovation. Well I was home in Vermont, just about to graduate high school and hearing those words absolutely electrified me. I felt like anything was possible; that the dream of being on Broadway was attainable. Flash forward to now. It’s not hyperbole to say that I am truly humbled and honored to be a part of the Broadcast.
Later this week we have to record our ensemble vocals, visit Radio City Music Hall for camera blocking rehearsals, and then of course… DO THE THING!