But I Raise My Glass

Tonyblog

Today, April 14, 2018 marks the 19th anniversary of the death of Anthony Newley. As I write this, friends and fans of Tony gather in London to lift a glass celebrating his life. He was a truly unique talent – creator of musicals both for the West End and Broadway, songwriter, singer, actor, director and mime. He inspired so many young performers and writers. He inspires me.

Even with all my work and study with the dying and now the dead, I feel certain that consciousness survives death, I miss him. He died too young, robbing his family of a loving father, his friends of “someone who made you feel like the most important person in the world,” and his fans of so many more magical stories and songs he would have created. We all die with unrealized potential. He died with universes left to unfold.

The soul that was Tony Newley continues but we are no longer be able to “Look at that Face.”[1] See his hands sing. Hear that unique voice and wicked laugh. Feel the embrace his friends describe as “engulfing, the biggest bear hug in the world.” Those are gone forever.

But not Tony. Not the spirit who endured an early life of despair and privation, not only endured but then soared to the very heights of the entertainment world. And back down again. That complex and charismatic spirit discovered nineteen years ago that what we call death needs redefining. It is not annihilation as those trapped in materialism argue. It is transcendence to a different frequency, a different dimension no less real than this one, for the “real world is really unreal.”[2]

It is okay that we miss the dead but we should never dismiss them. Nor should we bind them with intense sorrow. For someone we love, it is the least we can do. So today, I raise my glass from this side of the pond, joining those who celebrate his life. And then…I continue to build the bridge where we shall meet and share and create…together. Tony built a mountain. [3] I’ll build a bridge.

[1] Song from “The Roar of the Greasepaint, The Smell of the Crowd”

[2] From the song “This Dream” from “The Roar of the Greasepaint, The Smell of the Crowd”

[3] “Gonna Build a Mountain” from the musical “Stop the World, I Want to Get Off”

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