Gregory Jbara made his Broadway debut in 1988's Serious Money, going on to become a stand-out in musical hits like Victor/Victoria, Chicago and Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. He moved to L.A. and found regular work in film, TV and commercials, but a little Broadway musical called Billy Elliot was enough to lure this reliable leading man back to Broadway to give a truly touching, Tony Award-winning turn as Billy's hardscrabble father, Jackie. Here, Jbara recalls the night of his big win, which memorably included bringing wife Julie onstage during a tearful acceptance speech.
Which year did you win your first Tony?
For which role and show?
Best Featured Actor in a Musical for Jackie Elliot in Billy Elliot
Where were the awards held?
Radio City Music Hall
Neil Patrick Harris
What did you wear?
A double-breasted tuxedo
Who was sitting next to you?
My wife Julie to my right, Stockard Channing in front of me, Josefina Scaglione behind me and Chris Seiber to my left across the aisle, who graciously stood when John Stamos called my name
Who did you think would win your category?
I thought it could be any of us.
What was the first thing that ran through your mind when they said your name?
Get on stage quickly as possible...my one minute fifty second time clock has started.
Did you forget to thank anyone?
Did not forget, simply ran out of time. The offstage "Thank You Cam" was a great way to mention everyone else.
Did you cry?
If you could relive that night, would you change anything?
Not a thing.
Who were you most surprised to hear from after your win?
The nicest part was hearing from all the friends and family of the four men to whom I dedicated the award: John Jbara, Frank Donnelly, Brian Riordan and James Raitt.
Did winning a Tony change your life? How?
My "life?" Not really. It has changed how I am perceived by others. Two days after winning it did precipitate a straight offer for a wonderful role in the film Remember Me and my first ever guest role on Law & Order. AND I was recognized by my high school alma mater as the 2010 Distinguished Alumnus, which included my giving the commencement speech. THAT was a big deal for me! My family loves me as they always have.
What’s your biggest memory of the night?
Having my wife Julie at my side.
What’s the best piece of advice you can offer for getting through Tony night?
Eat something beforehand. There is no food or drink served during the broadcast.
Where do you keep your Tony?
Right now it travels with me in its original box and Tony Award bag. I have lots of friends and relatives still traveling to NYC to see the show and I bring it with me to dinners as my "date." I enjoy sharing it with everyone in my life because I believe they all participated in winning it as well.