Okay, so I'm desperate. There is so much to do in this final week and a half before this show opens, and yet, I feel it's so important to be blogging at this time, since this is the buildup to the climax of the story!
My dear young talents haven't provided me with any guest blogs for this week yet, so I scrounged up this speech I gave last year around this time at the TAMY Awards. The TAMY's are essentially high school "Tony Awards." Students and schools from all over Massachusetts are nominated in various categories mirroring the Tony's, and they all get together for a big reception and ceremony at Theatre at the Mount in Gardner, MA. Prom dresses are brought out, speeches are written, the opening number is goes off without a hitch and then the "keynote" speaker comes out and gives an address to the masses.
So, without further ado, since I have to run to the post office, here's the speech I gave last year, right around this time, before we had even finished writing Helen on 86th St. Picture me standing at a podium with this huge picture of Ken and I in matching argyle tops projected behind me:
First of all, I want to thank you so much for having me here as the distinguished speaker. It means so much to me to me to stand before so many younger versions of myself. You take me back to a time, many years ago, when I was at Auburn High School, juggling homework, college applications, student council, dance classes and appearing opposite Ken Davenport, now a successful Broadway producer, on this stage singing “Tea for Two.” It was a time when I was so excited about what lay ahead for me in the future. Which brings me to a phrase I heard recently, which has actually become the title of a song in a musical I’m currently writing. The phrase is this: “The journey itself is the destination.” Now, those might seem like strange words to use when starting off a speech at an awards ceremony. I think we tend to think of ceremonies like this as moments at the end of our journey…that moment when we finally have arrived. But, I’m here to tell you, and to remind you, that your journey is just beginning. And it’s going to keep going and going, and twisting and turning, sometimes going off course, then getting back on track, just like mine has, and continues to do so.
And I want to encourage you, as you travel on this very special path—a path that we, as performers and artists are so fortunate to travel on—to really love and cherish every moment and bump along the way. When I was the age that most of you are, I was absolutely determined to be a Broadway star, and then a movie star, and then, who knows what. Now, ironically, I spend most of my time teaching students, who have those same dreams and aspirations, and creating theatre, as a writer, director and choreographer—and I really believe that I’ve got the best job a person could ask for.
But, back to the acting—I started off on that course, passionately chasing the Broadway dream; working hard in college, in Boston, and New York to make my mark on stage and on screen. And at this particular moment in time, my name has yet to appear in a Broadway playbill…and the last time I looked up at a movie theatre marquee, my name wasn’t up there. But, let me tell you about the riches I have gained on my particular path: I have cherished memories of wonderful actors and actresses that I have been so fortunate to share the stage with, beautiful plays and poignant characters that have allowed me to say what I need to say about the world in a unique way, the skills to collaborate and work with a team of people, who care about and love something as much as I do, the ability to give a 100% to something that I believe in, and to the blessing of always having art, whether it’s music, dance, movies or writing, to help me through the more difficult times in my life and to express my joy.
So, it’s okay to dream about that journey to Broadway. I sincerely hope that each of you are able to realize all of your dreams. But, as your walking, running, skipping and hopping along on that path, take time to really value and appreciate the beauty of each step, each person, each success and each failure that you experience along the way. Because even if you never arrive at “Destination Broadway,” if you have a passion and love for theatre and art, you’ve already arrived.