Joel, Jeanne & HOLD THESE TRUTHS at the 2013 Drama Desk Awards

Joel, Jeanne & HOLD THESE TRUTHS at the 2013 Drama Desk Awards

Tim and me with David Shiner

Yup.  It was Cinderella Night all right.  At least that’s how it felt, looking around and seeing so many theater stars and artists that have inspired me for years — Cicely Tyson, Bill Irwin and David Shiner, and so many more.  And tonight, many of them nominees for a coveted Drama Desk Award.

And among them this year:  our very own Joel de la Fuente, first-time nominee for Outstanding Solo Performance for HOLD THESE TRUTHS.  A play I wrote.  A play that took me 10 years to finish.  A play I thought I’d despaired of finishing at times, because those 10 years seemed so interminable.

Somebody shake me.  Is this really happening?!

Tim and I take our dear friend and passionately devoted HOLD THESE TRUTHS supporter Lia Chang as our “date,” and in the middle of a scrumptious dinner at Esca I get a text from Joel inviting me to join him on the red carpet before the Drama Desk Ceremonies.  I show it to Tim and Lia, all of us delighted at Joel’s kind and generous invite, and the next thing you know, we’re hurrying with our umbrellas down the street to Town Hall, my scarf wrapped around my head to protect my hair, rainboots on to protect my feet, my furry jacket so I don’t get cold.  Then right before we get there, we duck into a parking garage.  I peel off the scarf, tear off the jacket, toss off the rainboots and exchange them for elegant strappy sandals and VOILA!!!—I’m “red carpet ready.”

Tim gallantly takes all our umbrellas to hold and I take Joel’s arm and we start down the line of photographers and reporters, flashbulbs popping and microphones thrusting, with publicist Katie Rosin running interference for us.  Crazy madness and such fun, and there’s Lia, who has whipped out her camera and is darting in and out of the other photographers like a hummingbird, snapping away.

And then the ceremony itself.  When Denis O’Hare announces the nominees for Outstanding Solo Performance, and we hear “Joel de la Fuente in HOLD THESE TRUTHS,”  Lia and Tim and I scream out our approval from the balcony.  What a moment.  The gifted Michael Urie takes home the award, but we have our award too.  The fact that the Drama Desk Committee has singled out Joel’s performance out of hundreds that year to honor.  The fact that they have done so for a role in which Joel plays a American civil rights legend, born and bred in the United States, in a quintessentially American story.  The fact that his work is being lauded alongside that of the likes of Bette Midler and Holland Taylor.  The fact that despite having to “compete” with huge, multimillion-dollar Broadway shows which run for weeks, and despite being sidelined for two weeks by Hurricane Sandy right after we opened, Joel’s work and virtuosic performance shone so brightly that the Committee remembered it for almost a year afterward.

Afterwards, a lovely party, where we get to meet up with our friends and other family members.  Lia, who said she “wasn’t going to work tonight,” can’t help herself.  The journalist in her wants to capture this night for all of us to remember, and in addition to capturing the whole ceremony on film, she’s a whirlwind in the room, snapping photos of almost all the nominees at the party.  The de la Fuentes represent with Joel’s beautiful wife Melissa, and his two brothers and sister-in-law, all beaming and looking so proud of him.

Congratulations again, Joel.  I hope it was a night to remember for you.  It sure was for Tim and me!

And thank you, Lia, for being such a delightful date, and for that wonderful Drama Desk Photo Album!

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