Billy Hartung, Judy Gold, and Sean Martin Hingston on the joys of raising a child as a show-biz parent.
WHAT ARE THE SPECIAL JOYS OF SHOW-BIZ PEOPLE RAISING CHILDREN?
(Side Show, Footloose and Minnelli On Minnelli on Broadway; most recently seen in the Encores! production of Hair)
"My daughter Elizabeth's entrance into the world happened at quite a memorable time in my life. During my wife Sharon's pregnancy, I was rehearsing for Minnelli On Minnelli during the day, and performing Footloose at night. By opening night of Minnelli, she was a week overdue. Being a soon-to-be father while I was doing a show about a woman honoring her father was such a touching thing for me.
"Sharon was insistent that she go to the opening night performance, even though the baby could have come at any time. So there she was in the audience at the Palace Theatre and the baby was moving around like crazy with the music. Then there was the opening night party at Radio City Music Hall. Sharon looked radiant and had the energy to last for the whole party. The next day, I woke up wondering what the reviews of the show would be, and Sharon said, 'I think it's time!' We went to the hospital and she had the baby around 6pm. I called Liza and said, 'We just had a baby girl!' She said, 'What's her name?' I said 'Elizabeth Louise!' and she screamed, 'Liza Lou!' I told her I didn't think I'd be at work that night, and she said, 'I certainly wouldn't! Take the whole weekend if you need it. This is real life.'
"I'm often so moved by people's reactions to the fact that I have a daughter. I'll go to an audition and someone will say, 'You have a little girl, don't you?' So I'll pull out a photo, and soon there are five people huddled around me. With all the stresses in my life--auditions and so on--when I come home and see that little hand reaching up, nothing else matters. When she points to her nose, it's a miracle. She doesn't care if I sing on pitch; but, when I lose her attention, I know that I wasn't specific with my choices. I'm a better actor because of her!
"My heart feels five times bigger since Elizabeth was born. Performing was always a goal of mine, and I'm very grateful for any success I've had, but Broadway wasn't really the dream for me; it was something I hoped I would be fortunate enough to do. Having a family was the dream. It's real. It's not anything a producer can take away or a bad review can spoil. I feel blessed to be able to come home and kiss my baby and my wife goodnight and know that they hired me for the long term."
(Caroline's Comedy Club, June 20, July 11 and 12; also in Woody Allen's new film, The Curse of the Jade Scorpion)
"Because I'm in show business, my four-and-a-half year old son Henry feels he is also in the business, and he play acts all day long at pre-school. He casts all the other kids in plays and directs everyone. He recently cast himself as Prince Charming, wore tights, and had five Cinderellas, all of whom he tried to kiss. He always gives himself the best part, by the way!
"All Henry wants to do is be on stage, but we're steering him clear of that. He also likes bugs. Mostly, though, he bosses everyone around and tells them that they're doing The Lion King. There have been moments when I'm on stage and he runs out and just stands there in front of everyone, like he knows he's really cute. Because I do stand-up comedy, I occasionally curse, and he doesn't like that. He also gives me helpful hints on how to be funny. He thinks I should use the word 'knucklehead' more often. That's hilarious to him."
Sean Martin Hingston
"Brad [Hurtado, Hington's partner] and I took Grace to the closing night party of A Connecticut Yankee, which I did for the Encores! series. I walked up the stairs and into the party room with Grace in my arms, and all of a sudden there were people everywhere. We were mobbed! I couldn't even get to the bar. One person after another stopped me and had to meet her. At first it was great, then it was like, 'Hi, how about ME?' She was the absolute star of the evening.
"Grace had her picture taken with Karen Ziemba, which appeared on a website, and from that came the Playbill article about Brad, Grace, and me. She's gotten me more publicity than I ever deserved! Now, when I leave the stage door, so many people ask how the baby is doing--people I don't even know. Even at the gym, guys come up and ask about the adoption. People in the street stop and talk to us because she's so cute. She's only six-and-a-half months old, but she has a full head of black hair cut in kind of a Chita/Liza-do.
"There are so many babies on the Contact scene. Sunday is Baby Day, believe me. The tech crew alone has had four or five kids since we've been there. Talk about contact!"