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What ELSE do you do?: Five questions for Elizabeth Law

Elizabeth, left, with Jenn Colella and Jonathan Groff

Elizabeth Law, currently Backlist Editor for Holiday House, and I have been fast friends since we met in 1980 in Zena’s children’s lit class at the University of Chicago. But in addition to her deep knowledge of and passion for children’s books, Elizabeth goes to the theater more often than any human being on the planet, possibly, and remembers everything she sees. So in honor of this Sunday’s Tony Awards, I thought I would ask her five questions about what it’s like to be a theater queen living within walking distance of Broadway.

1. What was the highlight of this Broadway season for you?

The surprise of the season for me was how good the two Harry Potter plays are. As anyone who has ever worked on a picture book can tell you, simplicity is HARD. The stagecraft in the plays is thrilling and yet it all looks effortless and unfussy. Also, the story is exciting and moving, and the acting is first rate. Overall the plays are almost as fun as having an eighth book.

But what was the highlight? This year, individual performances topped any particular show for me. Glenda Jackson in Three Tall Women, Bel Powley in Lobby Hero, Patrick Page in Saint Joan — I’ll remember them 30 years from now.  I haven’t seen My Fair Lady yet by I have high hopes for Norbert Leo Butz as Alfred Doolittle.

2. Are you predicting any upsets this Sunday?

Well, I’m hoping Anthony Boyle, who plays Scorpius Malfoy in Harry Potter, might upset Nathan Lane (in Angels in America). But if Brian Tyree Henry wins instead, for Lobby Hero, you will see a grown woman weep tears of joy.

3. Can you remember what first gave you the theater bug?

Yes! I was eleven, and our family friend Martha Hally, who is now a costume designer, was starring in her college’s production of Company. Martha played Susan, but what really got me was watching the number “The Ladies Who Lunch.” I thought, “That’s my mother on stage.” Until then, I didn’t know theater could be about real, contemporary people. People I knew. I remember how exciting it seemed that theater could be about real life.

4. Is there a role you were secretly born to play?

Honey, if I had an ounce of talent I would quit editing children’s books and go to an open casting call! I don’t care about what role. Still, in my fantasy life, I’m a cast member of Forbidden Broadway.

5. How many times have you seen Hamilton?

Three times on Broadway, once in Chicago, and once in London. And I just bought tickets again for next March.  To get tickets for Hamilton on Broadway, go to Hamiltonmusical.com, and join their mailing list where it say “join the revolution.” They will then email you before a brand new block of tickets goes on sale. When you get the email, follow their instructions exactly and then be prepared to wait ten months to see the show. FYI, there’s more availability for tickets to the London and Chicago productions.

Also, I always tell people to go to Playbill.com, register for the Playbill Club and check out the theater discounts there. I use them a lot. And embrace the rear mezzanine! Broadway houses are small and you can see fine from there.

Roger Sutton About Roger Sutton

Roger Sutton has been the editor in chief of The Horn Book, Inc, since 1996. He was previously editor of The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books and a children's and young adult librarian. He received his M.A. in library science from the University of Chicago in 1982 and a B.A. from Pitzer College in 1978. Follow him on Twitter: @RogerReads.

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