The Stephen Sondheim Theatre - Up Close with Jeff McCarthy!
In 2009, I was lucky enough to stage manage a beautiful production of Sweeney Todd at the Lyric Theatre of Oklahoma. I had never worked regionally before - when Nick Corley called and said that he was directing a production of Sweeney Todd starring Emily Skinner and Jeff McCarthy, I practically ran to the airport! Emily and Jeff had been friends for years, having starred together in the original production of Side Show in 1997! They had an incredible chemistry onstage and their dynamic together was electric! Sweeney and Mrs. Lovett were equal parts fearsome, hilarious, heart-breaking and human. It was an amazing production to be a part of!
Jeff, a Broadway veteran, had also starred as Officer Lockstock in the original production of Urinetown at Henry Miller’s Theater. I saw Urinetown when I was in college - the theater was surrounded by scaffolding, the audience seats were falling apart, and I was totally enamored with the entire experience! It was a special, charming show bidding farewell to a truly special old theater! I asked Jeff what he had learned about Henry Miller’s Theatre and he happily reminisced about his Urinetown home…
TF: Did you learn anything about Henry Miller’s Theatre while there? What was your favorite thing about it?
JM: What first comes to mind about Henry Miller’s Theatre is the fact that this was where Our Town first played. I also really loved this banged up old "Henry Miller's Theatre" sign that leaned against the brick wall up stage right. Looked like it could have been from the 1930s or 40s. I wonder what ever happened to it?
**Side note - The sign IS still there! It's currently hanging above the stage door entrance to the theater where the cast of Beautiful arrives every night!**
TF: Any ghost encounters?
JM: No, no ghosts.
TF: Anything that stood out about working in this theatre? Find any treasures?
JM: I did find, down in the basement, an old dilapidated overstuffed chair probably from the 40s that I quickly absconded and put in my dressing room. Beautiful violins carved into the wooden frame. Since the theater was going to be torn down when Urinetown closed, I dragged the chair out to my van and took it home. I had it restored and reupholstered.
TF: Can you share a secret or little-known fact?
JM: Somewhere in the cavernous passageways of the basement, Spencer Kayden (who played Little Sally, opposite me) and I snuck down at intermission one night with a can of spray paint and scrawled "Little Sally hearts Officer Lockstock" on the blackened walls. Probably gone now. A very happy time was had by all.