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Bernadette Peters on Picking Up Her First Tony in a Bob Mackie Gown

Bernadette Peters on Picking Up Her First Tony in a Bob Mackie Gown

Bernadette Peters

On Tony night, 'Just relax and have a sense of humor.'

By the time Bernadette Peters won her first Tony Award in 1986, she’d been a Broadway headliner for 20 years, including previously nominated performances in On the Town, Mack & Mabel and Sunday in the Park with George. Since her initial Best Actress win for Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Song & Dance, this theater icon has been nominated two more times (for The Goodbye Girl and Gypsy) and taken home a second Tony for Annie Get Your Gun. Broadway fans are rejoicing at the news that Peters will be back on the boards this summer as Desiree Armfeldt in A Little Night Music, while celebrating the publication of her second children’s book, Stella Is a Star!. Below, Bernadette remembers her first time in the winners' circle.

Which year did you win your first Tony?

For which role and show?
Emma in Song & Dance

Where were the awards held?
Minskoff Theatre

Who hosted?
I don't remember. [Note: There was no host.]

What did you wear?
A purple and black Bob Mackie gown

Who was sitting next to you?
Tom Hammond, my longtime manager

Who did you think would win your category?
I was hoping…!

What was the first thing that ran through your mind when they said your name?
I was thrilled.

Did you forget to thank anyone?
Richard Jay-Alexander, who was our stage manager at the time. He went on to run Cameron Mackintosh's New York office and is now a director.

Did you cry?
I don't think I did, no.

If you could relive that night, would you change anything?
Not forgetting Richard Jay-Alexander.

Who were you most surprised to hear from after the win?
I don't remember.

Did winning a Tony change your life? How?
It did not change my life, but I felt proud to be part of the theater community.

What's your biggest memory of the night?
I remember enjoying singing “Unexpected Song” during the show.

What's the best piece of advice you can offer for getting through Tony night?
Just relax and have a sense of humor.

Where do you keep your Tony?
On the bookshelf in my office.

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