We asked California native and song-and-dance man Tony Yazbeck (Singin’ in the Rain, My One and Only, A Chorus Line, Chicago, Smash, On the Town) to share his thoughts on performing in New York, plus what he loves about the city.
As a performer you have done theater, televison, nightclubs. Which do you like best? I like to tell a story and feel the people right there in the audience. What I didn’t figure out in rehearsals, I accomplish with an audience. Also, there really isn’t anything like performing on Broadway. I believe there are spirits of old hanging around those stages and encouraging us up there to be as genuine and vulnerable as we can. But I have to say, I think a lot of the real creation is done on a regional stage. It feels good to be away from New York to have a safe and nurturing environment to make something out of nothing.
How is performing in NYC different from other cities? New York City has an electric energy that doesn’t exist anywhere else. It also feels like, if you perform in this city, you have climbed the tallest mountain. To be on a Broadway stage is a dream fully coming true for me. Broadway is the “ultimate” in theater legacy, and we [actors] all aspire to be a part of that history.
Any particular restaurants you like to frequent? The Smith at Lincoln Center for brunch on Sundays, Becco on Restaurant Row on W. 46th St. for the best Italian and wine, and Peacefood cafe near Union Square for delicious gluten-and dairy-free desserts! There are so many other incredible restaurants: Toloache, Becco, Community Food & Juice, or Bareburger. Make sure to also stop by Schmackary’s to get one of their incredible cookies!
Favorite neighborhood? I can be happy anywhere I can have the magic of the city and also be close to a park and the water. I live in Inwood, and I am so lucky to be near both Inwood Hill Park and Isham Park and also the Hudson River. It’s definitely a part of New York that has really become my home.
Any other suggestions for what to do around town? Have a picnic in Central Park, go see an opera at the Met. Go downstairs to 54 Below for a late night show. If you want to experience something special, attempt to walk through as many neighborhoods as you can before you have to leave, especially up and down the Highline in the Meatpacking District. And of course, make sure you check out the charm and history of Greenwich Village.