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Acting Legend Joel Grey Turns 90 And Celebrates His Birthday In Times Square With Help From His Leading Ladies

Jeryl Brunner

On April 11, 2022 legendary actor Joel Grey turned 90. The Oscar and Tony Award-winning performing powerhouse, whose career has spanned eight decades, celebrated this great milestone in a big way. In the heart of Times Square Grey was flanked by some of his greatest leading ladies: Bernadette Peters, Donna Murphy and Bebe Neuwirth.
Joel Grey celebrates his 90th birthday with Bebe Neuwirth, Donna Murphy and Bernadette PetersEmilo Madrid

The Times Square locale was fitting for Grey who got his big break in his father's musical revue, Borscht Capades. The variety show opened on Broadway, at the Royal Theater in 1951. The allure of New York City still has meaning for Grey. “If you are a young person who dreams of being a part of Broadway, come to New York," he said during his birthday celebration. "We want your talent. If you’re a fan, buy a ticket, see a show. We want your passion and your energy. Broadway is back and better than ever!”

By 1966 Grey made a giant splash as the Master of Ceremonies in the Kander and Ebb musical Cabaret. Grey is one of only eight performers to have received the Tony and Academy Award playing the same role—the Emcee in Cabaret. Making his stage debut when he was just nine, he went on to star on Broadway in George M!, Goodtime Charley, The Grand Tour, Chicago, Wicked, Anything Goes and on and on.

Most recently Grey directed the acclaimed National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene production of Fiddler on the Roof in Yiddish. It was quite a feat to direct Fiddler On The Roof entirely in Yiddish with English supertitles. What's more, Grey doesn't speak any Yiddish. "I heard Yiddish, but it was never spoken in my house because my mother wanted to be modern," said Grey to this writer. His father was a great klezmer clarinetist and comedian. But his love and passion for the play inspired him to direct it. "This play very well and love it," he added.

In fact, Fiddler On The Roof in Yiddish won the 2019 Drama Desk Award for Best Musical Revival, the 2019 Outer Critics Circle Award for Best Musical Revival, and a 2019 New York Drama Critics' Circle Award Special Citation. Grey also co-directed the seminal revival of Larry Kramer’s The Normal Heart with George C. Wolfe. Grey was nominated for a Tony Award for that production.

Grey, who is a renowned photographer, with his work shown in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern art and The Whitney Museum, is not slowing down. As he once declared to this writer, "I'm always interested in the challenge of doing something new."
Joel Grey gets a birthday hug.Emilo Madrid

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New York based journalist who has written for Forbes, Parade, InStyle, National Geographic Traveler, Travel + Leisure, and The Wall Street Journal. Author of the book "My City, My New York, Famous New Yorkers Share Their Favorite Places" and podcaster, ("When Lightning Strikes"). I cover the arts, theater, entertainment, food, travel and people who are motivated by their joy and passion.

New York City, NY

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