There were some special guests at the revival of Horton Foote’s “The Trip to Bountiful” on Broadway recently, and of course director and former Hartford Stage head Michael Wilson was so honored to have them there. The guests? First Lady Michelle Obama and daughters Malia and Sasha.
According to Wilson, who will soon be doing some slipping back into Hartford for pre-production work on the annual production of “A Christmas Carol” at Hartford Stage, the First Lady and daughters received a round of applause from the audience at the award-winning show, and afterwards headed backstage to meet the crew and cast including Cicely Tyson, Vanessa Williams, Tom Wopat and Cuba Gooding Jr.
Wilson said Mrs. Obama was “ generous in her praise for the production” and also met Hartford Stage alum including Devon Abner, Pat Bowie, Curtis Billings, Leon Addison Brown, Arthur French, Bill Kux, Adepero Oduye, Linda Powell (daughter of former secretary of state Colin Powell), and Charles Turner.
And Wilson notes, he received a hug from the First Lady during the backstage kudos.
By coincidence, Hartford attorney Tanya Bovee, who was the highest bidder on a Broadway package at last spring’s Connecticut Fair Housing benefit, was also in the audience and while she did not get to meet Mrs. Obama, she did get a meet and greet with Williams.
Meanwhile, there was also some star power over at the Goodspeed at its production of “Hello Dolly” which, by the way, has been extended to Sept. 14.
Broadway stars Audra McDonald and Will Swenson came to see their friend, Tony Sheldon, who plays Horace Vandergelder in the show. The two were on the way to Tanglewood where the Grammy-award winning McDonald was slated to do a concert.
And speaking of things happening on stage, Black-eyed Sally’s had a special guest a few days ago, courtesy of the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
The non-profit group that makes wishes come true for very ill children, brought Seattle resident Connor Owen and his family to Hartford to see a Toby Keith concert and meet him after the show. As part of the weekend, the foundation chose Black-eyed Sally’s for dinner for the blind and wheelchair bound 17-year-old because they knew how much he and his family would enjoy the restaurant’s live R&B music provided that night by The Dirty Bones.
And he did and then some, according to Varano who not only had the band play a Johnny Cash song and dedicate it to Owen (a huge JC fan) but also gave him a CD and Black-eyed Sally’s tee shirt as a souvenir.