Expecting Company

Photo: Courtesy of Heather Laws

Heather Laws has an expectant glow these days. One reason is that she’s going to co-star in the much-anticipated Broadway revival of Stephen Sondheim’s Company. The other reason is that someone is waiting: She’s very pregnant. Rehearsals for the show start October 2; her daughter is due October 6. So far, she doesn’t foresee this being a problem.

“I was very insistent that she should do the show,” said director John Doyle, who believes that another hundred people couldn’t perform as well at Laws. Doyle, who won a Tony for last year’s intricate staging of Sweeney Todd, in which all the actors also played the show’s score while onstage, says, “This reflects my respect for Heather’s wonderful talent but also my feeling that [the pregnancy] should not have been an issue against Heather in any way.” So instead of recasting the role, as Laws expected, the show’s producers put a clause in her contract furnishing her dressing room with a crib. During rehearsals and shows, the baby will be tended to by Laws’s husband, Ben Kono, who’s taking a month off his job in the pit orchestra of Jersey Boys. Side by side by side, they’ll get through it.

Laws figures she’ll have to miss up to two weeks after she gives birth, but that the little things they’ll do together won’t be wasted time—she can nurse the baby and practice in her Inwood apartment. (She plays trumpet, French horn, and flute in the show.) “I’ve basically been doing this all summer, playing trumpet with this baby strapped to my front,” Laws says. “After she’s born, I’ll just wear her, keep practicing, and pretend she’s still in the womb.”

Of course, there are other worries: for example, a C-section and the consequent long recovery. As for usual complications associated with brand-new motherhood, which can drive a person crazy—lack of sleep, hormone craziness—she speculates that they could end up helping her performance as the stressed-out Amy, one of the wives in the show. “It might be easier to wear my emotions on my sleeve on two hours’ sleep a night,” she says. In fact, Sondheim has always intended Amy’s showcase patter song, “Getting Married Today,” to be performed in one breath, which Laws has never been able to do—“but I’m assuming that my lungs will expand to fill the entire space the baby once took up,” she says.

Still, handling a newborn is usually enough to keep most people busy, even without all the French horn. “Ben and I have always been people who say yes to everything, so we said yes to this,” she explains. “And maybe it’s absolute, complete ignorant stupidity, but I think it’s going to work out.”

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Expecting Company