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Stars and the City: Mary Beth Peil's New York

Category Broadway

|by Jeryl Brunner |


Tony nominee and Broadway veteran Mary Beth Peil can currently be seen on Broadway with Janet McTeer and Liev Schreiber in 'Les Liaisons Dangereuses' as Madame de Rosemonde

I came to New York after majoring in opera at Northwestern University. When I graduated, I got my first job singing the soprano lead La Traviata with Boris Goldovsky’s Opera Company in New York. I started working in opera. I was way too young, but I did it anyway. The minute I got off the plane, I felt this huge release of joy, happiness and excitement. It was like I had been waiting for 22 years to come home. It was quite thrilling. I loved the energy and endless opportunities. Anything can happen here. That kind of energy either drives people crazy and defeats them or feeds them. I happen to be one of those people who feels energized in New York. I’m home. [Peil currently performs onstage in Les Liaisons Dangereuses on Broadway.]

Stars and the City: Mary Beth Peil's New York - New York

What do you love about New York City?

1. I love being able to take my two granddaughters, who are 13 and 9, to the theater. I don’t have to worry about what to get them for their birthdays or for Christmas because they pretty much have everything they could want. I always know that there’s going to be some wonderful show, whether it’s Broadway, Off Broadway or Off Off Broadway that will be not only be fun for them but educational, stimulating and conversation-making. It’s so thrilling to be able to do that. I think New York is one of the only places where you can do that on a regular basis. The last show that I saw with them was School of Rock. It was fantastic. I was really impressed. What killed me was as we were walking out of the theater -- there were a group of teenage girls ahead of us going down the stairs. They were all excited, talking about the show and all singing, "The Queen of the Night" aria from The Magic Flute, which the principal sings in the show. I thought, oh my God, they’re not singing any of the rock songs; they’re singing Mozart.

2. Walk in or just look at Riverside Park. I have the good fortune of having an apartment that looks out over the river and over the park, so I can see the seasons change and the weather coming in from New Jersey. There’s something about the closeness to the river and the changing seasons. You can be in this huge city with so much population, commerce and so much going on against nature. But Central Park, Riverside Park and all the trees makes me think how it’s a miracle that when you find those oases of nature. I do not take it for granted at all. I treasure every moment I can spend in Riverside Park. I generally go in the morning, but if I’m not working, I like to go at sunset. It’s beautiful.

3. Another miracle is the Rubin Museum. The museum is dedicated to art and culture of the Himalayas. Everything is very natural, and they have a lot of really ancient art. I like to take people there who are visiting or really skeptical about the city. They say it’s too crowded,  too fast, too noisy, too dirty, too blah, blah. The tea room is so beautiful and quiet and the food is delicious. It’s such an interesting out-of-the-way treasure and always surprises people.

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