Written by Lydia Benedict.


At my age, I don’t usually tell Jeff what I want for a present. But this year, I put in my request for Mother’s Day. Hugh Jackman was hosting the Tony Awards and I wanted to attend. I emailed Jeff, “You know people in the media. Now would be a great time to call in a favor.”

And he did. Our friend, Armen Keteyian works for CBS. And CBS airs the Tony Awards. On Mother’s Day, there was no wrapped gift for me. Instead, Jeff said, “You better pick out a dress because we are going to the Tony Awards.” I could have screamed (except I’m not a screamer).

Several days later, I was working-out with a friend and I told her about my gift from Jeff. She all but did scream. As we exercised, we talked about formal attire. Then she asked if I had any diamonds. I told her the only diamond I have is the very tiny rock in my wedding ring. She told me that I had to have diamonds for the occasion and that she had a diamond necklace and earrings that I could borrow. Later, as she walked to her car, she said, “I will bring you diamonds.” 

Lydia with friend Robin Pendleton

Then the night arrived and Jeff and I were in New York City. While Jeff donned a tuxedo, I slipped into a purple cocktail dress and black heels—adding another three inches to my height. (The height I always wanted to be.) And then I hung the diamond necklace around my neck, hooking the clasp. I was relieved to find that each earring had two very tight earring-backs which held the earrings securely in place. I put them on and looked in the mirror. I never knew how much diamonds sparkle. 

Jeff and Lydia with Armen & Dede Keteyian outside Radio City Music Hall

 We met up with our friends, Armen and Dede Keteyian for dinner. We spoke of friendship and marriage as we sat overlooking Central Park. And we purposely dehydrated ourselves in preparation for the long show. (I wasn’t about to miss a moment of the show due to long lines at the ladies’ room). Then it was off to Radio City Music Hall. New York is always a happening place, but on this night we could feel the electricity as we entered that great performing arts center. The lobbies and staircases were packed with women in ball gowns and men in tuxedos. Then we found our seats in the first row of the second section on the ground floor (there are three tiers of balcony seating in Radio City Music Hall).   

Jeff and Lydia at the Tony Awards 

One of the coolest things about being at the show was to see what happened off air. The ceremony started thirty minutes before it aired on television. So by the time Hugh Jackman hopped like a kangaroo through the backstage labyrinth and onto stage (Jackman’s hopping was a reference to the 1953 movie Small Town Girl), the audience was fired up. And so were we. He hopped past Sting and Clint Eastwood. There was a comical meeting between him and Neil Patrick Harris, who had previously hosted the Tony Awards four times. He also hopped past the ensembles of the nominated Broadway shows that were warming up for their appearances later in the show. And then Jackman did what he does so well: he danced.

As the show went on, we were wowed by the performances; Les Miserables’ and Bullets over Broadway were a couple of my favorites. When Carole King appeared on stage with the cast of Beautiful-The Carole King Musical singing with Broadway actress Jessie Mueller the audience was clapping and singing along to “I Feel the Earth Move.” And the audience was on their feet when Audra McDonald made a heartfelt speech after receiving an award for her portrayal of Billy Holiday in Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill.

Audra McDonald gives her acceptance speech at Tony Awards

From where we were sitting, many of the presenters, performers, and award recipients walked right past us. I could have touched Idina Menzel as she stood just in front of my seat. Rosie O’Donnell walked right past us too. And Matt Bomer looked like he had just come off the set of White Collar before he walked down a nearby aisle.

Matt Bomer at the 2014 Tony Awards 

For me, it was a night to remember. I never imagined that I would get to attend the Tony Awards Ceremony. It’s a Mother’s Day gift that will be hard to top. It’s not that attending the Tony Awards is the most important thing. But a girl likes to have a reason to dress-up.

And as much as I love Rockspring Farm—it just isn’t a reason. Sometimes I like to switch out my muck boots for heels and walk down an NYC street on the inside of the police barricade. I like to let my hair down. And I have decided that I definitely like diamonds.