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On Tony Night, The Official Party Isn’t the Only Party


You guys know that there are a bunch of organized Tony Awards viewing parties in New York City this weekend. The ceremony is being broadcast in Times Square. 54 Below is doing a thing. But there are also scads of private parties thrown by industry folks at all levels who (GASP!) aren’t actually going to the awards. Because guess what? Not all industry folks in New York City go to the awards. Amazing, right?

Our favorite annual house party is thrown by Steve Tate, who heads up the marketing department at the Atlantic Theater, and his girlfriend Sara Jayne Blackmore, who’s an actress. They live on the Upper West Side in an apartment that was featured in the New York Times, which is clearly amazing. We chatted with Steve over drinks about what makes an amazing Tony party, and what he’s planning for this year.

Lucky: Why a Tonys party?

Steve Tate: It’s the seventh year doing it. I’ve been to the Tonys a few times – the last time was when I was working on the Spring Awakening account at Situation Marketing. And going to the Tonys is totally different than watching the Tonys. Going is very much more formal. You can’t make any little side remarks.

L: Basically, you have to behave.

ST: Exactly. And I just wanted to pull together some people what we know, that work in the industry and love getting together. And the environment is not the same as an official party. It’s totally unbiased. It started out as six or seven people, and it’s grown over the years.

L: What are you doing for prep?

ST: Today I ordered 100 balloons. I called around and priced things out. Balloons are not cheap. And oddly enough, people don’t eat that much food during the Tonys.

L: Really? What, they just want to drink?

ST: Yeah, it’s all about the alcohol. I’m making a punch so I don’t have to mix cocktails.

L: Any theme to go along with the shows?

ST: No, I don’t geek out that way.

L: What single element really makes a great party?

ST: The people. If it’s all actors, they can get kind of catty because they’re not onstage. And theater is collaborative, so you have to have a variety of people at your party. Actors, directors, marketing people, writers. They all come in with a different perspective. And when categories come up that some people don’t care about – Best Book of a Musical, for example. Well, the writer at the party cares about the book. So when that award come up, he tells everyone to shut up. It’s good. And also booze. Gotta have booze.

L: So who’s coming?

ST: It’s all up-and-coming people. But the coolest thing is when people you don’t know show up. I met my girlfriend because of this Tony party. A couple of years ago, my friend brought a friend to the party who was like, “Are you single and straight? I have a girlfriend for you. And also, here’s my play. Would you read my play?” So from that one introduction, I got a play that I optioned, and I also got a girlfriend.

L: Has there every been something on the Tonys that was a game-changer for your party?

ST: When Alice Ripley won for Next to Normal and she gave the crazy speech, people in the room were like, ‘What?’ And in 2007 when In the Heights performed, there were some people at the party who were working on the show, and they did that medley. After that, people were on their feet. Because the energy of that moment was great.

photo: Steve Tate

Going to a Tonys party — or throwing your own? Tell us about it in the comments section.


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