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Starting From Sixty: Musical Theater Comeback

Updated: Apr 18

In 2021, Lois Smith became the oldest performer to win a Tony award at age 90.

Woman standing onstage
Lois Smith

She won the award for for her role in, "Inheritance." The previous record holder Cicely Tyson, who passed away in 2021, set the record at age 88 with her performance in the revival of, "The Trip To Bountiful."

This Spring, I will turn 60, and I will be taking inspiration from older actors and their exceptional work as I rebuild the skills I need for the roles I want to play.

Dreams From My 20s

When I was in the chorus of 42nd. Street, one of my fellow dancers predicted that I would play Dorothy Brock one day. Miss Brock is the older antagonist to Peggy Sawyer, the ingenue who becomes a star when she replaces Brock in, "Pretty Lady," the show within the show.

I have kept up with my singing and acting, and now it's time to dial up my dance skills, especially because I would love to play Aunt Sue in, "No No Nanette," too.

Group of theatergoers
With Ruby Keeler (at right) at 42nd. Street at GMT

Ruby Keeler, seen at the right in this photo, (I'm in white in the middle) was 70 when she starred in the hit revival of, "No No Nanette," on Broadway. She sang, acted, and danced up a storm. Anyone who aspires to make a musical theater comeback can reap big rewards from having a role model to emulate, and the videos of her work are helping me regain my skills and confidence.

The Economy of Experience

I want to keep working for at least 15 more years, and I intend to keep dancing for the rest of my life. As our economy continues to transform through conservation, automation, and the emerging influence of artificial intelligence, the performing arts offer opportunities for economic expansion without environmental harm, especially when they are live and local.

Access to public spaces for arts and athletics where we can be both performers and spectators is so valuable for fostering community in a healthy way.

Speaking of health, the intention to keep growing and dreaming can inspire all of us to stay strong with a lifestyle that is as active as possible. This requires access to spaces that welcome as wide a variety of ages and abilities as possible. I am eager to work in service to the community by teaching the fitness and performance skills I have learned, and I am excited by all the new ways we can share our talents on line. I new doors to fulfillment are opening at every age. Let's open them together.

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