A few days ago, I wrote about a wonderful performance by Kristen Chenoweth at the Tony Awards, which introduced her to the national public, and had the video of it and her joyous acceptance speech immediately after, when she won for Best Featured Actress in a Musical for the revival You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown.
It's a wonderful video and a joyous couple of moments.
This tops it.
It took place in 1990, when the actor Michael Jeter was nominated as Best Featured Actor in the musical Grand Hotel. The show has music and lyrics by Robert Wright and George Forrest (who also wrote the famous musical, Kismet. And the score was augmented with additional songs by Maury Yeston, who later wrote the Tony Award-winning Titanic. This particular song, "We'll Take a Glass Together," is by Wright and Forrest.
Michael Jeter had always been a popular figure on Broadway. Exceedingly talented. What's noteworthy about this video, however, isn't that Michael Jeter was appearing in the show. It's that he was appearing anyway. He'd had a horrific drug and alcohol problem that not only destroyed his career, but came close to ending his life. But he went through a long and difficult rehab, got his life back in order and then got his career back in order. And Grand Hotel was his big return to Broadway, as much as it was his return to life. And he got a Tony nomination for it.
This video will show you why. It's quite amazing. He performs with Brent Barrett, who does a terrific job in the number, but at a certain point you can see in his face that "This is Michael Jeter's moment, there is nothing I can do that will get a single person looking at me, and I am here to support him -- and it is my pleasure." He even briefly walks offstage for a moment, leaving Jeter his moment to shine. And good Lord, does he shine. Watch this video full screen -- the quality isn't great to begin with, and it's diminished a bit when full screen...but you will want to watch what Michael Jeter does, so you can believe you're seeing what you think you're seeing, and revel in the joy of it.
And it's made all the more moving because the character he plays is a man who is dying, and just wants a friend and to "Take a Glass Together."
But here's the thing. That's not the good part.
Because then they cut to the nominations. And the presentation. And the winner is -- well, no one could top this performance, even if he didn't have that personal history to go with it. Michael Jeter wins.
And the speech he gives is, I'm sure, remembered by everyone who saw it live. I know I do. That's why I tracked this down, and watch it every once in a while.
And so, now you get to sit back and watch Michael Jeter perform and win his Tony for Grand Hotel.
Not that I want to build this up or anything...
(When the musical performance is over, you can jump to the 6-minute mark, if you want, and skip the long voice-over credits for the broadcast. And I recommend watching this full-screen for the fancy footwork. Trust me...)
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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