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ActorQuest - Kristin Huffman Goes Inside 'Company' 32

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In November, Kristin Huffman made her Broadway debut as Sarah (flute, piccolo and sax) in John Doyle's production of Company.  The actress, with a new series of tales that go inside the making of Company from an actor's perspective, starting at the Cincinnati Playhouse and on to New York, continues her stories about a 15-year career that has led her to the door of the Ethel Barrymore Theatre.

This is the thirty-second story about the "Making of Company."  If you haven't read the others, go back and do so and then rejoin us here! 

Also!  I will be doing a special cabaret in New Haven CT at a venue called Zinc, in their cabaret room called Chow, on Thurday, February 14 at 7PM and 9PM.  More info to follow, but I am titling it "Lovesongs? an offbeat look at Valentine's Day."  It will be a little interactive as well.  Come for a fun and funny night. Call  www.Zincfood.com for reservations and directions. I am donating all my proceeds to the West Haven Animal shelter.

SCENE THIRTY-TWO :  TONY WOES

 Do you want the good news or the bad news first?  The good news is that we have been nominated for many awards already.   Drama League, Drama Desk and Outer Circle Critics.   Our leading man, as well as John Doyle, Mary-Mitchell and Barbara Walsh have also been nominated. Our producer scheduled a meeting with us a few days ago to discuss what we would be performing on the Tonys which, predictably, got us very excited.   Because the Tony nominations have not yet been announced we took this as a show of good faith!

Now the bad news.  Not the "most bad news", which would mean we were closing, as he put it, but the second to "most bad news".  Only Raul would be performing on the Tonys.  The producer laid out the extensive costs of paying for all of us to perform and it totaled something like 68,000.00 dollars.   He said that gamble with the money could cut our run short by two weeks.  As we are only selling in the forty percentile right now, we all understood the logic. 

It didn't mean we liked it.  If the rest of the cast felt like me -- and I know they did -- we were crestfallen.  Even Raul was upset.  The show is called Company for crap's sake. Like a group of people in a company! But we also understand the budgetary decision.  Part of the reason it is so expensive to have us all perform is because we do all the playing as well.  Ideas were tossed around.  I even said, "what if we did it for free?" I was told that was illegal. (Leave it to me to find the illegal solution to the problem.)   Others played devil's advocate and said that when they watched the Tonys each year it was the performed numbers that made them want to rush out and see the shows.  Still others tried to find ways to make it cheaper, like lip syncing our instruments while the Tony orchestra played for us.  Most of the money we would make was going toward that anyway.  It was decided that that would defeat the idea of our show as well. 

From what we heard, John Doyle was not happy with the lone wolf version of "Being Alive." Mr. Sondheim has said he does not like that song to be sung without the interjected lines from the rest of the cast.  And there is the logistical idea of deciding what orchestration would be played. Ours, which is so connected to the actual characters playing on specific lines? Or the original score which really isn't our show? 

I am sure Raul will do a fine job of performing and "selling" our show for us, but we haven't totally given up hope.    After the producers left, many of us threw ideas into the hat.  I put in a call to a friend of mine with a lot of money and left a subtle message.  "Hi, glad you are coming to my cabaret on Monday night. We just got depressing news though. It would cost too much money to send us to the Tonys.  Ok, see you on Monday".   Many of the cast talked about how we could donate the money we would get back to the producers in the form of an anonymous donor so that it wouldn't be illegal, but would only set a bad precedent for other shows. 

In pure desperation and in an attempt to keep things light, as we were getting ready to do a show and needed to be in better moods for the folks actually paying good money to see us perform on Broadway, I started coming up with some other ideas.

"We should have a bake sale out in our lobby every night and tell them that the donations are for our "Tony Trip".  The agreed upon item to sell was "Pot Brownies" to go along with our show.  My next idea was pretty great too. Since the kazoo auction had been so successful for Broadway Cares/Equity fights AIDS, the largest sum for the two dollar kazoo being 575 dollars one night, I said we should have more auctions and use that money to go to the Tonys.   Matt suggested auctioning off Keith.  I also thought that we could just put some signed kazoos on Ebay and get money that way.  I was thinking in "multiple streams of income" at this point.

But it was my final suggestion that brought out a few smiles.  I thought we should have a car wash out in front of the theater in our bikinis and speedos -- black ones, of course…like our show costumes.   We could have big signs, like they do for high school car washes saying "Send us to the Tonys!!    100 dollar car washes".  

While we are still working on actual ideas to help us go, like finding donors with deep pockets, it was agreed that we still feel very lucky to be in this wonderfully creative show, whether we get to be on TV or not.  I still like the car wash idea though.


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Kristin is making her Broadway debut as "Sarah" (flute, piccolo and sax!) in the John Doyle directed production of COMPANY! Kristin was Miss Ohio and (read more...)