Miriam Silverman forged a reputation for stealing scenes long before her critically acclaimed, Tony Award-nominated role as the arch, prejudiced, yet also very funny and sharp Mavis in The Sign in Sidney Brustein’s Window on Broadway. Silverman’s mother Anita, the actor recalled to a reporter, was considered “shockingly old” to have her first child—Silverman herself—at the then-considered-antique age of 35, and was approached by Good Morning America to be followed during her pregnancy, Lamaze classes and all.
This process culminated in the filming of Silverman’s actual birth, before Silverman appeared live on the show itself as a newborn cradled in her parents’ arms.
“My parents showed it to me on VHS when I was far too young to appreciate it,” Silverman said, laughing. “I remember thinking, ‘What in the world is this?’ It’s buried somewhere in my parents’ apartment. I will find it and watch it at some point. Maybe I’ll show it to my own children when they’re older—like 20 or something.”
Fast forward 45 years to May 2, 2023, and Silverman’s home in Brooklyn, and another big morning small-screen moment: the announcement of the Tony Award nominations. Silverman’s friends had said to her, “Get ready for your Tony,” when it was known that the revival of Lorraine Hansberry’s 1964 play—focusing on the fragile liberal pieties and even more fragile marriage between Sidney and Iris, two hip sixties Greenwich Villagers played by Oscar Isaac and Rachel Brosnahan—was moving to Broadway (James Earl Jones Theatre, to July 2) after its February run at BAM.
Silverman’s performance as Mavis, Iris’ starchily conservative sister, had been widely praised in reviews, while responses to the play had been more mixed.
“I needed to not have my friends’ words in my brain,” Silverman told The Daily Beast.
Silverman doesn’t read reviews. After the show closed at BAM, her manager sent her two pages of quotes raving about her performance (Silverman has been universally hailed, the reviews of the show have been more mixed). “That was really nice,” Silverman said. “I was really overwhelmed. I’m also glad I didn’t know it during the run.”
“When we trained as actors our teachers told us never to read the reviews—good or bad it was never useful.”
— Miriam Silverman
Her friends must have told her about the reviews? “Yes, they did. And I heard of one review which called me ‘scene-stealing,’ which may have been well-intended, but is not necessarily the best thing when acting in an ensemble. I got my first rave review in the Times in 2013. When we trained as actors our teachers told us never to read the reviews—good or bad it was never useful. But another actor in that 2013 show told me to read this one. It was so nice, but”—she smiled—“all I could think that night was, ‘Maybe they (the audience) don’t think I’m as good as the Times person said.’”
Her 79-year-old father, Mike, a lifelong journalist, retired from the Associated Press 14 years ago, though he still writes stories on opera. Silverman laughed. “Do you how hard it was to get him not to send me every review? He doesn’t. He has really learned. But he does read everything, and he has a Google Alert for me!”
Silverman’s name was mentioned in a pre-Tony nominations predictions piece, which many friends mistook for the real thing, leading to an influx of congratulatory messages. At that moment, Silverman wondered what it would be like if the Tony nomination materialized in reality.
“It was enough of a possibility that my husband and I watched the nominations,” Silverman said. “We never had before because I never had a reason to. My daughter (Stella, 9) had gone off to the school bus, I had dropped our son (Henry, 4) off at nursery. On my walk home, someone texted to say Rachel and Oscar had not been nominated. I was surprised. They’re both so good. They should have been. I watch and listen to them every night doing incredible work. To me, it meant—if they were being shut out after doing their brilliant work—I should put my fantasy of being nominated to bed.”
Miriam Silverman in “The Sign In Sidney Brustein’s Window.”
Silverman got home, and joined her husband Adam Green to watch the rest of the nominations. The best direction of a play category was announced, and “Brustein” director Anne Kauffman’s name was not mentioned. Then they announced Silverman’s name in her category of Best Featured Actress in a Play.
Silverman and Green were both sitting on the floor. Her husband had been doing push-ups—his morning exercise recourse when he can’t make it to the gym. His laptop broadcasting the news was on the coffee table. When Silverman’s name was announced, “there was screaming, hugging, then crying. We both cried together, ecstatic crying,” Silverman said. “Then my dad called. I’m pretty sure he was crying, or close to it. It was incredibly meaningful.” Her mother, who had died aged 80 just as the BAM run had begun in February, would have been thrilled, Silverman said. Her performing in the play has run in tandem alongside her grieving.
The nomination feels like a pivotal moment, Silverman said, “but everything in my life feels pivotal right now. I didn’t have a Tony nomination as a goal, but it is a crowning achievement in the theater world. It happens and you realize maybe it secretly was a goal. I think it could change my professional life, but in what way and how that manifests I don’t know.” She laughed. “Maybe I just become ‘the Tony-nominated Miriam Silverman.’ We tease Andy Grotelueschen, one of my best friends from graduate school (who plays politician Wally O’Hara in “Sidney Brustein”), that he is ‘Tony-nominated Andy Grotelueschen’ because he was Tony-nominated for Tootsie.”
“It might be hard for others like them in this situation—but not them. I truly don’t understand why they didn’t get nominations…”
— Miriam Silverman
“I was a deeply competitive athlete growing up, but with theater-related awards I am not competitive,” Silverman said. “If I win, I’m not going to complain. I’m not giving it back. I’ll enjoy it and keep it,” she said, laughing. “But I truly do feel so fortunate to have been nominated. It’s really exciting. I grew up in this city going to the theater, and then working in it off and off-off Broadway, and only once before this on Broadway, so it feels wonderful.”
Had it been difficult with Isaac and Brosnahan—the big stars—being snubbed?
“Not at all,” insisted Silverman. “That’s purely because of how lovely both of them are. I have become really close to both of them. They’re just really good people. Every perception of how celebrities come and deign to do some theater—there’s not a shred of that with either of them. They have been so supportive. They reached out straight away to me the day the nominations were announced, and said the loveliest things. It might be hard for others like them in this situation—but not them. I truly don’t understand why they didn’t get nominations, especially when everyone who comes to see it sees them both do absolutely brilliant, astonishing performances in a really hard show.”
Glenn Fitzgerald, Rachel Brosnahan, Oscar Isaac, Miriam Silverman and Julian De Niro during the first curtain call for the new production of “The Sign in Sidney Brustein’s Window” on Broadway at The James Earl Jones Theater on April 25, 2023 in New York City.
“I exchanged lovely messages with Rachel and Oscar,” she added. “I know, you’d think it might be very difficult for them, and Annie (Kauffman), but at least the play was recognized for Best Revival. It would have felt yukky if I was the only nominee.”
Silverman said she felt “a little embarrassed” when the character of Mavis got entrance applause at performances after her nomination was announced. “I didn’t know what to do with it. Rachel and Oscar usually get entrance applause, because of their amazing body of work, and celebrities usually get entrance applause. I ran my lines, and hated myself for not pausing and letting it happen. It’s happened a few times, it’s not consistent, which is a good thing. I was grateful for it, but,” Silverman laughed, “I was like, ‘I need to make my joke, you’re all missing my joke.’ I don’t really remember doing the play that first night. I had to really calm my nervous system, so I skipped my usual 5 p.m. cup of coffee. That whole week was a blur.”
“We were very close. She helped raise my kids”
Silverman’s mother died two days into previews of the The Sign in Sidney Brustein’s Window in its pre-Broadway BAM incarnation. “It was fairly unexpected,” Silverman told The Daily Beast. “She had home underlying conditions. A nasty respiratory virus landed her in hospital, then for three weeks it was one thing after another. I didn’t know if I would keep doing the show while she was in hospital. I thought about pulling out. But I was surrounded by circumstances that made it possible to carry on.”
For one, Silverman had performed the play before (directed by Kauffman at Chicago’s Goodman Theatre in 2016). It felt comfortable—particularly the key scene Mavis has in the second act, which she finds “perfectly written, and Oscar is such an incredible actor to play opposite.” Kauffman had lost her mother a few years previously too. Silverman knew she could miss rehearsals if she had to.
For the first two weeks in hospital, Silverman and her mother could talk; for her final 10 days her mother was on a ventilator. “I’m getting to the age where a lot of friends’ parents are passing away,” she said. “I’ve watched those friends suffer through their parents being ill for years, and slowly deteriorate. That is its own kind of agony. We’re still processing it, but I am grateful my mother didn’t suffer for long. We were very close. She helped raise my kids. I saw my parents all the time, and my dad even more now—at least two or three times a week.”
The morning after her mother died, Silverman felt like she wanted to do the show that night. “I have never been in a state like that before, and it felt like a crazy thing to say, but Annie (Kauffman) said, ‘That’s exactly what you should do.’ She also made it clear understudies could take my place, that I did not need to. But there had also been moment, when my mom I had been moved to the ICU, that my dad took me aside, and said, ‘Mom and I know how much this means to you. We know how much you love the play.’ They’d seen me in Chicago. Dad said, ‘We know how amazing you are in the role, and how much joy it brings you. Don’t even think of giving it up because of any obligation you feel to be here.’”
Ultimately, Silverman said she was able to spend all the time she needed to at the hospital and continue with the play after her mother died, because of the support she had. “I felt held by everyone in the company, and given all the space and time I needed. Honestly, doing the show that week was an out of body experience, but also something to look forward to.
Anne Kauffman and Miriam Silverman attend “The Sign In Sidney Brustein’s Window” Gala performance celebration at Virgin Hotels New York City on May 4, 2023 in New York City.
“That first performance, the day after her death, was difficult,” Silverman recalled. “I was aware enough to know what a state of shock and devastation I was in, and being so close to my parents as they both get older I had imagined what that would be like. I imagined my life would fall apart and I would be a heap on the floor, and I was to some degree.
“During the day I could not get out of bed and I would cry all day. I would pick the kids up from school—that would be my little buoy—and then at 5 p.m. I would go do this drama I loved. It was the first time I ever understood theater could be medicine. I did the performances truly not because I felt an obligation to anyone. It was selfishly just enjoyable to be in front of an audience. I love the play so much, telling the story and being part of its legacy, was very healing and nourishing.”
The day we met, Silverman’s dad was at her daughter’s school for “grandparents’ day.”
“Life will keep going. I am surrounded by things that bring me delight, joy, and sadness—and missing my mom is part of that.”
— Miriam Silverman
“He’s doing as well as someone can be after losing their partner of almost 48 years,” Silverman said. “He definitely needs space and time. He has a wonderful dog. Until now I have never appreciated someone having a dog. I’m a cat person, but I am newly in love with their dog. It’s really moved me to see how many of their friends have shown up for lunch dates. He has done a bunch of trips, and is a volunteer tour guide, as a docent, at the Met, and he also volunteers at an adult literacy group. My parents were incredibly close, but they were also independent and had their own lives. I have known a friend’s parent die, then the other one goes soon after. I say this, as confident as one can be, that my dad is OK. I’m so grateful we live in the same city, and he’s close.”
Grief, for Silverman herself, continues to be a “daily surprise when it’s going to catch me. I have burst into tears in the grocery store and the subway. My dressing room at the theater is my little sanctuary, and it’s been great to have this private space. Sometimes it hits me in the middle of listening to the play, which I do as I arrange my hair and hat before I go on. Grief is consistent in how surprisingly it creeps up on me.” Silverman is learning to see grief as a continuum; she doesn’t put any pressure on herself to feel better. “Life will keep going. I am surrounded by things that bring me delight, joy, and sadness—and missing my mom is part of that.”
The nature of Mavis—her zingers, her spirit, her boldness—has been psychologically useful to play too. “Other roles require a lot of suffering. That might not have felt so good.”
“I wanted the real hatpin to scrape a little bit on my scalp”
Mavis is the gleeful pin in all the liberal pieties of the play, while also being a conservative bigot—racist and anti-Semitic. “It’s so delicious and fun to play, I think because she is so different to me,” Silverman told The Daily Beast. “Sidney (Isaac) and Iris (Brosnahan) are straddling a place of apathy and lack of engagement and questioning—but on the right side of the fence. Mavis is so clearly on the wrong side, it’s kind of a delightful challenge. And it is clear Lorraine Hansberry wrote the character to be embodied fully.
“Mavis could be a two-dimensional, dismissible character, and the genius of the character that when you are introduced to her you think she will be a laughing-stock. But her two scenes, especially in the second act, mean the audience has to confront her as a whole person.”
Silverman—who combines her acting career with being a part time adjunct professor at New York University, teaching undergraduate and MFA acting students—first played the character in the 2016 Chicago production, also directed by Kauffman. “Annie sent me the play, and said, ‘It’s not the lead part, but it’s an incredible part.’” Silverman concurred. “In some ways it’s the best part, and one of my greatest parts ever. The whole play blew my mind when I read it.”
Performing in the 2016 production, Silverman thought “everybody might know a Mavis, or maybe there were Mavises or former Mavises who would recognize themselves, or those who would hate to admit to being Mavis.” She also worried about how her character’s bigotry would be received, or how people would approach Mavis. Mavis is also “dancing on the edge of camp, for sure. The challenge is to keep the character’s integrity and keep it real and grounded.”
A diversity, equity and inclusion specialist worked with the New York cast to discuss every insult, microaggression, and every piece of racism and bigotry within the play.
“That was so necessary for all of us,” Silverman said. “I’m as politically lefty as you get. My parents were Marxists. The idea I should honor this woman’s thoughts felt uncomfortable, but conveying her arguments fully are part of the power of the play.”
Miriam Silverman and Micaela Diamond attend the 76th Annual Tony Awards ‘Meet The Nominees’ press event At Sofitel New York at Sofitel New York on May 04, 2023 in New York City.
Jenny Anderson/Getty Images
This author has seen the play twice, once at BAM and once on Broadway. Both times, the audience volubly got behind Mavis—not her bigotry, but her deriding Sidney and Iris’s liberal smugness. “I feel that from the audience,” Silverman said. “It was jarring the first time I felt it at BAM after my ‘smugness’ remark. I wasn’t sure how to interpret the applause. Mavis is truth telling to some degree.”
The costuming helps Silverman’s inhabitation. She rehearsed in high heels to help get into Mavis’ conservative, upper-middle class woman about town. “I was offered something to rig my pillbox hat in place, but I said no. I wanted the real hatpin to scrape a little bit on my scalp. Mavis has the potential to be frumpy, but for me she’s rich, and needs to look rich. The more poignant thing to me is that she has figured out to be fairly glamorous way too late.”
Friends and audience members have noted what seems like an opposites-attract, forbidden sexual spark between Mavis and Sidney—th conservative sister in law and the ruffled, liberal brother-in-law.
Isaac and Silverman love playing their jousting scenes with each other, mainly because Sidney and Mavis seem oddly compatible. One night at BAM, Silverman’s cigarette lighter didn’t light, so Isaac lit it—it immediately enlivened the scene, and so was kept in by director Kauffman. “I think Mavis in some ways has the strongest sense of self-awareness in the play as does Max (Sidney and Iris’ playwright neighbor),” Silverman said. “The rest are questing, or oblivious, or lost, or in denial, or various combinations of all that. Everything is recognized between Sidney and Mavis. So many people have said to me, ‘I thought they were going to get together.’”
Silverman laughed. “We didn’t mean for that chemistry to be transmitted. I love that it is being misread in that way It has never been a thought, I have never talked to Oscar about it, and I have had to erase it from my brain, so I don’t play into it.”
Silverman’s 9-year-old daughter Stella came to see the play at BAM. “I spoke to her about my character being racist, and saying some really racist, antisemitic, bigoted things. I said she doesn’t really understand homosexuality. We talked about her about being a problematic character, and the politics of the time.”
Silverman laughed. “Somehow I totally forgot to mention all the sex work and suicide themes, so those were the big questions afterwards! She loved it, although she said the play wasn’t long enough—I think she might be the only person to say that. She told me I was great, very funny, and got so many laughs—and told me I was better in my second scene than my first.” (Who needs to avoid critics, when you have a sharply observant kid?) Stella also came to the Broadway opening night, so was tired at school the next day, but, as Silverman said, “how often does your mom open on Broadway?”
“My ambition, honestly, was to work”
Growing up in New York City, Silverman wanted to be “a million things—one year a Supreme Court justice, another year a microbiologist.” Her mother, who grew up in Texas, was from a well-off family. A debutante, who was “prom queen, head cheerleader, all of that,” she rebelled against her background and went to college in Oakland. She studied dance, dropped out, and “got very political.” Through the Progressive Labor Party, she met her husband. A fluent Spanish speaker, Silverman’s mother later taught English as a Second Language. She was also a painter and quilter, and loved museums and the theater.
Her father, following his studies at Stanford, became an AP stringer in the Bay Area, then he and Anita moved to New York a few years before Silverman was born. As a little girl, Silverman used to visit Mike at the AP office, and once—having saved some babysitting money—joined him at the 1994 Winter Olympics in Lillehammer, Norway. The family lived in the same Upper West Side, rent-stabilized apartment where her dad still lives. She has two brothers: one is an FDNY lieutenant, the other a poker player.
The young Silverman enjoyed performing and dancing in the living room, though her high school—Bronx Science—did not have a drama course at the time. “As a kid, I was outgoing, living in a bustling, busy household. I commuted an hour each way to Bronx Sci on the D train. I played soccer pretty seriously.”
“Because I did so many different things at high school I felt like I was in a lot of different groups. I never felt totally settled anywhere.”
— Miriam Silverman
It was a mixed team; she was one of the only girls on the team, playing midfield because “she was pretty fast.” Later she played defense. “I was a good student, and kept it all together, and was wild and mischievous with my friends in the ways our parents never really knew about.” Parties would happen at the weekends in the “free houses” of adults who had decamped to their weekend homes.
A self-described nerd, Silverman joined the speech and debate team, and didn’t perform in a play until college. “I didn’t love high school, but I really loved college,” Silverman said. “Because I did so many different things at high school I felt like I was in a lot of different groups. I never felt totally settled anywhere. My best friend to this day is a high school friend I was not close to at high school. I remember her as core to a group I couldn’t be in. She remembers me as the queen bee of all groups. But I always felt on the outside of all those groups. At college I finally found a core group of friends.”
“The Heiress” starring Cherry Jones.
Patrick Downs/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images
Theater remained a passion, nurtured by her parents. Silverman recalls being taken to see Anything Goes, starring Patti LuPone, and learning the soundtrack by heart. Her father, who read Victorian novels to her well into her early teenage years, took her to Gilbert and Sullivan productions. She went to Broadway and off-Broadway shows with her parents, and particularly remembers seeing Robert Sean Leonard in a production of Romeo and Juliet in 1990, and seeing Janet McTeer in A Doll’s House and Cherry Jones in The Heiress. Watching Jones, she recalled the actor’s power to captivate an entire Broadway house through storytelling; the same “electricity” emanated from Janet McTeer. “You can’t teach that command and focus.”
Her now poker-playing middle brother was in the children’s chorus of the Metropolitan Opera. Her younger brother went to LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts with the ambition of becoming an actor, but got more interested in the technical side of theater—and then ditched it entirely to join the FDNY.
Silverman studied Chinese Language and Literature at Brown, and thought briefly she might go into academia after completing her MFA. Then she “discovered acting in plays.” Her first role in the first semester of her freshman year was Lady Croom in Sir Tom Stoppard’s 1993 play Arcadia. “I was hooked, and still love plays that are complex, difficult.” Silverman lived in Hong Kong for a year tutoring kids in English; her only regret, she said laughing, was that “there was a production of (Chekhov’s) Three Sisters that year I missed.” One of her college-era summer odd jobs was at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, “digging in dirt and planting things.”
Silverman has been a full-time actor, and teacher alongside it, since 2005. “My ambition, honestly, was to work. That’s a reality a lot of actors don’t learn until far into their careers that I was made aware of early by my teachers.” She stayed at Brown to be part of the first new MFA acting program under Oskar Eustis at Trinity Repertory Company, which modeled the kind of collaborative model of theater-making between actors, writers and directors that she continues to prize and teach today.
“There’s something about the act of teaching, and continuing to learn through teaching, that I never have to worry, ‘Am I going to hit some kind of block or dull moment, or stand still in my work as an actor?’” Silverman said. “Teaching is inspiring. It continually gives me a deeper love for what actors do.”
There was a moment, early in her career, when Silverman thought she could have been “savvier or more ambitious,” but she thinks she became a better actor by doing shows at Trinity Rep rather than going all-out for Broadway or Hollywood. “I didn’t care that no one from New York was coming to see me play Catharine in (Tennessee Williams’) Suddenly Last Summer. My only thought was, ‘How often do you get the opportunity to play a role like that?’” Her first Broadway play was in Junk—a Broadway debut for a number of other cast members. “But it was at Lincoln Center, which, while technically ‘on Broadway,’ didn’t feel like being on Broadway. Doing ‘Sidney Brustein’ feels like it because we’re there.”
She met Green when both attended a summer workshop in the Catskills for devised pieces, directed by Lear deBessonet, artistic director of Encores! and also Tony-nominated this year (for best direction of a musical for Into the Woods). They were both attracted to each other, though Silverman had to extricate herself from the long-term relationship she was in. “A month after we left the country he said to a mutual friend he was going to marry me. At that point, we hadn’t really talked, but he sort of knew and I sort of knew.” She laughed. “I thought, ‘This is trouble.’”
“I think of friends who are parents in long-running shows, and I don’t know how they do it. It’s hard. Most days, I see my kids for an hour or two before school, and that’s it for the day.”
— Miriam Silverman
They have been married for 13 years. It’s a “wonderful” relationship, Silverman said, but as both are actors, planning childcare has been tricky. Now Green is a labor organizer for SAG/AFTRA, his more fixed-hours, full-time job has made domestic matters a little easier to manage—although Green is “counting down the days when I can do bedtime again,” Silverman said. “I think of friends who are parents in long-running shows, and I don’t know how they do it. It’s hard. Most days, I see my kids for an hour or two before school, and that’s it for the day.”
Until “Sidney Brustein,” Silverman hadn’t done a play since COVID. “I’ve done a lot of TV and film work, which was great and hope to do more of that. But this play was a good reminder of why I became a theater actor. I began at 18, and the pandemic was clarifying as a reset. It’s a thorny thing to say, as COVID was so painful a time. But I had been in such a working actor mentality, taking on jobs before the pandemic, being forced off that hamster wheel was really good.”
Silverman’s son Henry had just turned 1 in February 2020 (he is now 4). “In his first year of life I had done three plays. His older sister had come to know the theater, which was great. But it was also really nice and really precious spending the second and third year of his life being home for bedtime. Now I really don’t want to act year-round, but pick projects for certain lengths of time. I’m happy we got a Broadway run. I’m also happy it’s limited.”
“I’m grateful to be hitting my stride”
Next, Silverman would love to play Martha in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? alongside Isaac as George, and Lady Macbeth. “I gravitate to characters who are not instantly likable, and to slip into characters people would not expect me to play”—like Helena in All’s Well That Ends Well and Isabella in Measure for Measure. She would act in “anything” that Will Arbery writes (having starred in his play Plano), and any work by Amy Herzog, and would play “any character in Three Sisters.”
She hopes the theater world remains progressive in the diversity of roles available to women, but says it is telling that there were only four performances nominated for a lead role by a woman in a play—all played by well-known female actors. “I do wonder if the problem is of currency, and needing celebrities to headline Broadway plays because of economics. We live in a country that does not subsidize theater-making. Then we see, for the Tonys, there not the usual numbers of female leads in a play for that category, meaning there are not as many leading roles for women on Broadway this season. That tells its own story.”
On screen right now, Silverman can be seen on The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel and Dead Ringers. At 45, she feels “grateful to be hitting my stride. I’m not relying on being cast as the 26-year-old love interest next door. I know the pressure that gorgeous leading in their 20s and 30s feel. I never had that, and my favorite actresses like Deirdre O’Connell (who won the Tony leading actress award last year for Dana H.) are gorgeous and sexy, but have never relied on that for their careers.”
It delights Silverman that her camouflage as Mavis is so complete many of the audience gathering at the stage door afterwards don’t recognize the real her. “It makes me feel I’ve done that part of my job really well. A very famous actor—I won’t say who—came backstage at BAM to congratulate us all. I was introduced to him, and there was no acknowledgement from him that I was in the play. I went home that night thinking, ‘OK, not everyone thinks I’m good, it’s OK to get knocked down a peg once in a while Silverman.’ But the next day Rachel told me the celebrity very much wanted to meet me—he just hadn’t recognized me as the person playing Mavis.”
The Tony Awards will go ahead with no picket by WGA members. Alongside her dedicated union organizer husband, Silverman herself is a “staunch union member,” who was “very involved” in the Fair Wage On Stage campaign and off-Broadway contract negotiations. She hopes the Tony Awards celebrates theater (and gives Broadway as much of a national platform and financial boost as possible), while honoring the WGA members presently on strike. On the night, Green will be her date, and she is trying to convince her dad to come too.
Silverman has “no idea” if the Tony nomination—and who knows, maybe the award itself—will have a significant effect on her career. “If I had my druthers, it would provide opportunities at a certain level. Broadway can be a hard nut to crack for people who don’t do musicals who are not celebrities in a non-musical play. It is not the easiest thing.” She laughed. “Leopoldstadt is taking care of something like 20 actors in that category. But look around at other Broadway plays. Lead parts usually go to someone known through film and TV. It’s nice to buck that trend a little bit.”
Silverman’s students at NYU are sometimes pressured to “stay in New York in case that hit series comes up. And sure, that happens sometimes. But I have also watched many students burn out after a year or two of waiting around. Their reps don’t consider regional theater a place for great roles, but they and others forget that drama school is only the beginning of your training.” Silverman is grateful to have studied and started acting before celebrity culture—and its inflating effect on young actors’ expectations—became so dominant.
“It bugs me is when they plop celebrities who not stage-worthy on stage to sell tickets. I think that does everyone a disservice, audiences included.”
— Miriam Silverman
“We wouldn’t be on Broadway without our leads,” said Silverman of Isaac and Brosnahan. “I feel great about it, when they’re amazing like my two co-stars. Oscar and Rachel are theater animals; he went to Juilliard and did plays before he was famous, she performed at Steppenwolf in Chicago. They were raised on theater. The only time it bugs me is when they plop celebrities who not stage-worthy on stage to sell tickets. I think that does everyone a disservice, audiences included. I’m not sure what the solution is. I’m grateful to our producer Jeremy O. Harris who got our play to Broadway and made it accessible to everyone. Generally, the Broadway model is as troubled as the world’s economic model.”
Silverman’s own commitment to her craft is evident in how the rest of her Tony nominations’ morning unfolded. Fifteen minutes after the announcement, Silverman “splurged” on a car to get her to NYU to teach a class. She typically takes the subway, but that morning had various interviews to do on the go. Her students had bet her a box of doughnuts she would be nominated (she said she wouldn’t), so she stopped off at the famed (and deliciousness-filled) Doughnut Pub at 14th and 7th to secure the sugary bounty.
“They were all so excited, it was very sweet,” Silverman said of the students’ cheers and congratulations when she arrived. “I was too excited to eat any of the doughnuts,” she said, laughing. She began teaching at 10.15. Barely an hour after she found out she was a Tony nominee, she and her students got on with rehearsing excerpts of plays.
“I don’t want to undersell how thrilling and exciting it all was, but it was also the end of the semester,” Silverman said. “It would have made me feel lame if I hadn’t taught that morning.”