Most Valuable Player is one of those monikers that is not hard to use when I tell you about the Tony Award winning producer, press agent, living legend, and my fairy godmother, Irene Gandy. I first met Ms. Gandy at what in retrospect was the denouement of my time at my previous place of employment. My very first national theatrical broadcast was a panel to handicap the Tony Awards that year. Irene Gandy walked into my world like a Fabulosity Hurricane, bringing so much swagger and glamour that we had no choice but to become friends, and since that time, she has been a mentor, cheerleader, and sometimes surrogate mother to me. She is valuable to me because she has been a supporter and a proponent of my work as not only an interviewer and theater commentator, but also as a comedian and host. Anyone who really knows Miss Irene can confirm that she knows how to make an entrance, POW!!!!!!
Miss Irene almost in every conversation somehow seems to remind me to always believe in myself just a little bit more. The life lessons you can learn from just standing around her are amazing. In her almost 50 years of working in the theater, she has met just about everybody that is or has done ANYTHING in theater. For all of my musical theater geeks, I must share one of my favorite, most recent moments of just "hanging out" with Queen Gandy, and I think that she will not have a problem with you referring to her in such a manner upon meeting.
|Irene Gandy on the Fame Wall at Sardi's|
It happened after a little lunch at the legendary Sardi's. As we were saying goodbye to the ever so dashing, managing partner of the historical eatery, Max, we leave and proceed to walk past the Shubert Theater, the current home to Hello Dolly with Bette Midler. We see a former box office manager that worked with Miss Irene on some show 5 years ago, and then we ran into the security manager of another theater that she knew for about 15 years. As we get closer to the theater, one of the street exit doors opens, and out pops 4x Tony Award winning director, Jerry Zaks. He sees her first and says, "Irene?" She says "OMG, Jerry! I haven't seen you in forever", and they hug and just continue to converse. Meanwhile in my blown mind, I am trying not to fly right out of Shubert Alley on a winged, rainbow unicorn, shooting glitter from its horn. After a few minutes she introduces me to Mr, Zaks, and I pull it together enough to thank him for directing Sister Act, giving me my personal theme song, "Fabulous, Baby." For me, that felt like the most balanced and witty comment that I could muster, considering what was happening in my head. For her, it was just a Tuesday, and one of the best things to witness was how each of those people, including Mr. Zaks, got the exact same kind of love, attention, and treatment from her. From the top to the bottom of the chain, everyone who works in ALL aspects of the theatre business is important to her. Thank you Queen Gandy aka Auntie Mame.
Click HERE to hear my most recent conversation with Queen Gandy, as well as fellow MVP's Montego Glover, Orfeh, and recent Olivier Award winner, Andy Karl.