A rich memoir by a former Broadway theatre owner and producer who relays in his intimate, easy voice his journey from an outsider to a self-made successful player in a most competitive, but little understood business. We are treated to a truly remarkable American story of dreams fulfilled on Broadway and beyond.
As you will read, Marty Markinson has lived an extraordinary life. Marty rose from modest means and obscurity to wealth, respectability and significant influence through a combination of laudable qualities – including honesty, courage, grit, creativity, high hopes, positive intentions plus a lot of hard work. And Marty had fun all the way to the top of his profession.
Markinson talks about his involvement in both production of shows and operation of the houses in which they appear, concentrating on his ownership of the Helen Hayes Theatre (previously known as The Little Theatre) on Broadway from 1979 until the theatre’s sale in 2015. A fun, informative personal telling of this Broadway tale.
From the Author’s Foreword
It was a night that changed my life forever: June 5, 1983. Arlena, my wife, and I were at the Uris Theatre in New York City for the 37th Annual Tony Awards. That year, Richard Burton, Lena Horne, and Jack Lemmon hosted the event. The orchestra’s Special Salute consisted of a medley of George Gershwin songs beautifully sung by an array of celebrities. Then, at the end of the musical salute, the Uris Theatre was officially renamed the Gershwin Theatre.
My feelings of apprehension were indescribable. We were sitting near the front of the theatre surrounded by the people who helped to make Broadway – Broadway. All of us we were poised to hear the announcement of the winner for Best Play in the 1982-83 season.
My heart was pounding almost out of my chest. I was beyond excited because the show I was producing, Torch Song Trilogy, was one of the nominees. Everyone in the theatre industry knew it was a long shot because a show entitled ‘night, Mother, by Pulitzer Prize-winner Marsha Norman, was expected to take the Tony, hands down.
Torch Song Trilogy was a groundbreaker, the first on Broadway that in my opinion fearlessly embraced the gay world. I was concerned as to whether the theatre industry or the theatre-going public would ever fully accept this show.
Thoughts and memories flooded my mind. I’d always loved the entertainment business. Growing up, I went to as many movies and plays as I possibly could. But how could I ever have imagined back then that one day I would be sitting at the Tony Awards with a Broadway show that I had produced in the running for a Tony?
When the time came to announce the winner, I happened to glance over at the ‘night, Mother producer and it seemed to me that he was preparing to stand up. Then the presenter opened the envelope, saying, as they always do, “And the winner is …” She gasped. “Oh, my God! The winner is Torch Song Trilogy!”
The audience went wild. I just sat there completely stunned. Then it dawned on me that I was expected to get up and accept the Award with the fabulous Torch Song team of co-producers and, of course, the extraordinarily gifted author and star of Torch Song, Harvey Fierstein. I leaned over to kiss my wife and ran up the stairs onto the stage.
Even producers who have won multiple Tony Awards remember their first as the most thrilling. For me, it was absolutely over-whelming. I stood there, looking out at the distinguished crowd. The realization that millions of people were watching, including my family, friends and colleagues, caused my knees to shake and my mouth to go dry as a desert.
The Torch Song Trilogy magic didn’t end there. Harvey won Tonys for Best Writer and for Best Actor in a Play! You can imagine the celebration party that night for Harvey, all the producers, and everyone involved in the play