You may recognize Sarah's name from a guest post she wrote for me back in January of 2018. If you haven't read this beautiful post where she shares her journey of dancing with Transverse Myelitis, I highly recommend you check it out! I am so happy to welcome Sarah back to the blog with her exciting new piece about her experience at the Tony Awards. Read on to hear about her amazing evening of red carpet interactions, Radio City Music Hall moments, and after party adventures!
From the moment I watched the film adaptation of the musical, Annie, when I was five years old, I fell in love with musical theatre. I easily memorized all the lyrics to every single song, and I danced around to the music in my room, pretending to be Annie herself. My first time witnessing a live musical was at the iconic Fox Theatre in Atlanta, GA, and of course, the production was none other than Annie. My love for musical theatre only progressed from there; I joined a theatre camp over the summer when I was six, where we did a mini production of Annie. I played one of the orphans in the opening song, “Maybe,” and I didn’t even have to prepare for the performance because I’d already been performing my own version of Annie in my home for a year.
What began as a five-year-old’s love for one musical turned into a lifelong love of all musical theatre. My mom and I now routinely attend shows at the Fox Theatre in Atlanta, and I saw my first musical on Broadway during my first trip to New York City in March of 2015 when I was thirteen years old. Since that very first trip, I’ve attended twenty-two Broadway shows, and I can’t get enough! During every performance, I’m always captivated by the performers’ ability to dance, sing, and act to perfection, and I find myself tearing up, overcome by emotion even when the show isn’t sad. Just seeing the performers onstage having the time of their lives and loving what they do is enough to make me teary during the funniest, happiest of shows—and I’ll of course cry during the melancholy moments as well, because it’s extremely cathartic. I’m able to appreciate the exceptional talent Broadway performers possess, because each and every one of them has worked hard and deserves to be where they are.
Because Broadway and musical theatre in general has been such a big love of mine since I was little, my mom and I were ecstatic to attend the Tony Awards for the first time last year, in 2018. We also attended again this year, in 2019, and had wonderful experiences both times. Sitting in the orchestra with all the stars was exceptionally cool, because I was surrounded by so many unbelievably talented people, many of whom I’d seen perform onstage. I, of course, got emotional watching all of the performances both years, too. It’s a huge deal and an honor for every performer to be on the Radio City Music Hall stage, so I was overcome with pride while watching everyone perform. But when Ali Stroker won the Tony for Best Featured Actress in a Musical for her performance in the revival of Oklahoma!, I couldn’t help but cry the hardest I ever had at the Tony’s. She was the first person in a wheelchair to win a Tony, and being that I, too, have a physical disability, her accomplishment was incredibly close to my heart. Not to mention her acceptance speech was glorious as well.
It’s so fun to meet the stars and pose on the red carpet at the Tony Awards! Broadway stars are very kind. When I approached them, they always asked my name and if I’d seen the show they were in yet. I had meaningful conversations with every star I chatted with, which really meant a lot to me. They’re a different kind of celebrity than a Hollywood celebrity, for sure. Tina Fey even said the University of Virginia’s (UVA) chant back to my mom after she called it out to her (both my mom and Tina attended UVA)! At the after party at The Plaza Hotel, I felt like I was among old friends as I ate a lovely dinner and watched my favorite stars dance and chat with their friends. Walking up the steps of the iconic hotel with all the stars was definitely a moment to remember, especially since there were fans standing outside the hotel staring at me and everyone else. I felt like a real celebrity!
Getting all gussied up in makeup, jewelry, fancy dresses, and heels for the Tony’s is also another part of the fun. I always make sure my mom takes plenty of pictures of me on the carpet! It’s super fun watching all the magic happen live. The Tony Awards are unlike any other event I’ve ever attended, and I can’t get enough! Broadway and musical theatre in general are so close to my heart, and I’m sure I’ll have a love for them for the rest of my life.
Thank you again to Sarah for sharing her story! Sarah is the author of the books 5k, Ballet, and a Spinal Cord Injury, Determination, and Up and Down. Be sure to check out her website http://5kballet.com. Also, check out her guest post from January 2018, along with other interviews and posts I have on this site. Thanks for reading!