Bright Star’s Dee Hoty & Stephen Lee Anderson on the Joy of Cutting Loose Together Again

first_imgDee Hoty & Stephen Lee Anderson photographed at Bourbon Street Bar & Grille(Photo: Caitlin McNaney) Here’s a question for your next round of Broadway trivia: Name a pair of musical pros who played small-town spouses in shows that opened almost 20 years apart. The answer, of course, is Dee Hoty and Stephen Lee Anderson in Footloose (1998) and now Bright Star. In both musicals, director Walter Bobbie cast Anderson and Hoty as a puritanical father and his understanding wife—performances made even more impressive by the fact that they’re nothing like their characters in real life. Offstage, Anderson smiles constantly and has an easygoing manner; three-time Tony nominee Hoty possesses a natural glamour more in line with her roles in City of Angels and Gigi than Mama Murphy in Bright Star. The two friends recently shared a laugh-filled chat about their beautiful new show and their long and successful careers.Q: What’s the secret to playing husband and wife so believably on Broadway? DEE: We’re tall. We look good together.STEPHEN: I tell people Walter [Bobbie] and I have an agreement that we don’t do shows together unless my first entrance is with a Bible, I’m married to Dee Hoty, we have a daughter who is feisty and rebellious and there’s a train trestle.Q: Seriously, it must be nice to have a shared history. DEE: It’s wonderful. And it’s like no time has gone by—except Stevie Lee’s children grew up.STEPHEN: My youngest son, Evan, was born just after we opened in Footloose, and now he’s off to college.DEE: I’ve had a couple of boyfriends. That’s it!Q: Dee, do your friends have trouble recognizing you as Mama Murphy in the opening scene of Bright Star?DEE: In my Auntie Em wig, you mean? I’ve played a mother for a long time, and I’ve always said I don’t mind because everybody has one and it might as well be me. It’s just that the children keep getting older and older.STEPHEN: I did Arvide in Guys and Dolls last year, and they called me “Grandfather.”Q: Is there a plus to playing an unglamorous role?DEE: Well, I can eat what I want at 7:30 instead of having to stop eating at 5 in order to get into the corsets I wore in Gigi. I loved that show, but the clothes were killer. I just have to be careful not to gain five pounds in my forgiving sack dresses.Q: Are the Bright Star ensemble members aware that they’re working with a Broadway goddess who has three Tony nominations?DEE: I don’t know about the goddess part.STEPHEN: They are now, because I’ve let them know. “Tony nom! Tony nom! Tony nom!”DEE: Now and then, one of the young’uns will say, “It’s Broadway’s Dee Hoty!” when I’m signing in or coming up the stairs.Q: What’s it been like working on a new musical with Steve Martin and Edie Brickell?DEE: Steve Martin is so smart. When you’re talking to him, he’s listening; he’s focused, but it as if there are eight other conversations going on in his brain. And Edie Brickell is the sweetest, most genuine person I have ever met in her position. She’ll say [in a Texas accent], “Do you like those words? Because I can change them!”STEPHEN: The music is such a luscious blend. Every time I sit down next to Dee at the beginning of the show and the music starts, [I can feel] the audience thinking, “Wow, I’m going to enjoy this ride.” It’s an original dramatic piece with music. It’s unique.DEE: People are thanking us at the stage door for such a beautiful evening. And, not to sound treacly, but if you come with an open heart, you will have a wonderful time.Q: What was your most joyous moment ever on stage?STEPHEN: For me, it was Footloose. To have the 11 o’clock number was a big [deal], something I don’t think will ever come again. Floyd Collins was big. And Violet.DEE: I remember sitting on the bed in City of Angels in my underwear, waiting to move downstage as they played Alaura’s theme, thinking, “I have created a role on Broadway! I am the luckiest person.” Being lowered on a moon in The Will Rogers Follies; fulfilling my childhood dream of being a rock star in Mamma Mia! I’ve also been in a big old flop, The Best Little Whorehouse Goes Public, and still I thought, “I’m on Broadway!”STEPHEN: I’ve been in a few of those.Q: You’ve both worked steadily for more than three decades. What’s the key to career longevity in the theater?DEE: Honestly, it’s very difficult for anyone today to have the careers we’ve had. I came up at a time when you auditioned for a Broadway show and [immediately] got the job, or you didn’t. Now you have to do the reading and the lab and the workshop and go out of town—the process can go on for years. You have to make your own YouTube channel or have a hit record or graduate from a famous school or have 10,000 Twitter followers. The business is so different now.STEPHEN: Someone asked Gary Cooper that question and he said the secret is a little bit of talent and a lot of luck. There’s truth to that: right place, right time, right type. Just keep on keeping on.DEE: I want to say one more thing about a favorite moment on stage: Every night during our curtain call, when the house [set piece] spins around and people scream for Carmen Cusack, I want to burst into tears of joy for her. It’s not like “the torch being passed,” because it’s not mine to pass. But that moment when the audience discovers this unbelievable talent makes me so happy.STEPHEN: I feel the same way. I’m beaming from ear to ear because Carmen is a gem. Her acting chops, her singing—and she’s such a humble, dear soul. It’s wonderful. View Comments Bright Starcenter_img Related Shows Show Closed This production ended its run on June 26, 2016last_img

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