There are some people who are born to teach and when and if you are fortunate enough to come across one in your life, you know they are special, because they make you feel special.
One of the special ones passed away unexpectedly this weekend. He directed me on the stage and then my daughter. He was the reason so many of my friends went on to do what they loved.
There was a unarguable quality about this man. He had exemplary taste in everything; literature, friends, music and wine. I was honoured to not only have him as a teacher but as a friend. He was the sort of teacher they don’t make anymore; he treated the students as equals and with compassion. You could ring him at anytime of the day and he would be there for you, and many of us did.
His greatest love was the theatre and he directed a wonderful musical, of which I was fortunate enough to be in three of them. Many nights we would leave rehearsals and head out to dinner with him, then head back to his house where he would play jazz piano and I would sing.
‘Autumn in New York’ was a favourite as were songs from Calamity Jane. He came to see me sing when I was underage and singing jazz in bars and clubs while at school, not lecturing me on being underage, instead ordered a wine and calling out requests.
He was the best sort of teacher because he taught us about life.
Thank you Tony. You died doing what you loved and while I will miss you, I remember your warm hug only a while ago and how proud you were of me. You are part of the reason I write Tony, the reason I acted and sang and the reason why I always think of you when I hear “Autumn in New York.”
Vale Tony. I love you.