If I wanted to get all sentimental I could say that the War Horse company is not just a cast but a family, but such a designation might take away from the fact that when these actors arrive at the theater every day they have left their more conventional families behind. Occasionally, however, members of the at-home clan show up at Lincoln Center, and such was the case this week on Wednesday, when the War Horse company assembled in LCT's large rehearsal room to throw a baby shower for actor/puppeteer Tom Lee and his partner, Lisa Gonzales.
At a cast Christmas party, all of the performers with children - with War Horse this group includes Alyssa Bresnahan, Peter Hermann, Boris McGiver, Sanjit De Silva, and Richard Crawford - might feel free to bring them to the celebration. The shower, however, was more of an in-house affair. Except for Bresnahan, whose toddling daughter, Shannon, charmed the party's guests, this was an occasion for Lee and his loved ones.
Gonzales, who is due in a few weeks, showed up in the company of an initially shy Solvej and Maya, Lee's daughters from a previous relationship. Their arrival was applauded as warmly as any curtain call for War Horse itself. Eventually, Lee would get around to making a speech in which he thanked the cast for all their hospitality, and for making War Horse an agreeable place to work. (No matter how delightfully low-maintenance their children, the last thing actors want is to arrive at the theater and encounter colleagues as demanding as their three-year-olds.)
Before the shower speeches, though, there was the food, arranged on tables bedecked with balloons that had been blown up by War Horse's hard-working young actor Madeleine Rose Yen. Good grub, it was: rice and salad and sandwiches on crunchy bread. While grabbing my paper plate I asked Lee if he and Gonzales had chosen names yet for the children. (Did I say children? Yup. I buried the lead: they're having twins.)
"We haven't narrowed it down completely," Lee replied. "But we have a list. Since we're having a boy and a girl we really have two lists." He continued: "For the boy we're thinking about Sam, or Samuel, which is a family name for me. Also Asher. For the girl, we have a few Hawaiian names in mind." I think he said that one of these was Malia, a Hawaiian equivalent for Mary. But as Lee told me this someone else interrupted to congratulate him, so I'm not quite sure. And if he had said Malia, I'm sure I would have remembered, since one of our nation's First Children has that name. Whatever Lee and Gonzales's daughter is named, I'm sure that she, and the name, will be as beautiful as the shower was.
Final note: If I were an old-fashioned society-page scribe instead of a modern-day blogger I would share the details of all the shower gifts, but I had to leave the party as Gonzales was unwrapping them. Forgive me. I'm sure they were swell.
Brendan Lemon is the American theater critic for the Financial Times and the editor of lemonwade.com.