Distinguished Alumni Award 2006
John Treacy Egan
One of the great joys of being headmaster is the opportunity to recognize the contributions of members of our school community who have distinguished themselves both on and off campus.
Tonight, at the Blue and Gold Senior Dinner, we continue the tradition of honoring an outstanding alumnus-a man who 26 years ago sat at this dinner awaiting graduation-and who now ill receive the W. Lee Pierson Distinguished Alumni Award, one of the most prestigious awards presented by Rye Country Day School.
It was established in 1993 in the name of Dr. Pierson, who precede me as headmaster. It stems from our motto "Not for Self but for Service," and is awarded annually to a person whose generosity and service have significantly bettered and strengthened our society.
The Pierson honorees have come from various walks of life. Included are doctors, scientists, athletes, philanthropists, lawyers, public officials and others. Tonight, for the first time, we honor a member of the entertainment industry-a trained opera singer who, now performing as an actor in musical comedy, is the star of a Broadway show.
John Treacy Egan, a member of the class of 1980, is an outstanding example of what we teach in the classroom and of what we try to impart through our relationships with students-namely, perseverance, focus and dedication, in addition to service to others. I might add that versatility and the ability to adapt to new situations also are valuable qualities. Those of you who knew Johan as a natural redhead will note that he now has the slick black hair of the character he portrays on Broadway.
Think for a moment of the life of a member of the arts. First and foremost, of course, is the need for talent and the continual sharpening of those skills. The competition is severe and unrelenting. You never can rest on your laurels and you must give 100 per cent or more in every performance, every day. You learn to live with rejection and disappointment, and to continue to be "up" when the role you've been working for goes to someone else, or when your show suddenly closes and you're back in the audition lines seeking another job.
It's basically the same in every field you pursue-but while the scientist may work in a lab and the doctor or lawyer may deal with one patient or client at a time, the entertainer is constantly under public scrutiny, be it movies, television, radio, the concert hall or Broadway stage where the reviewers can be brutal. You must be true to yourself, yet also be faithful to what may be a tough and unusual role on stage. It is not necessarily an easy life.
On the other hand, the joy of an audience and the applause that follows can be pure elation. And I must tell you that John Egan receives a standing ovation at virtually every performance of The Producers for his wonderful portrayal of Max Bialystock, the manipulative showman who raises money for a show that he has designed to fail.
Prior to taking over the lead last October, John, a versatile performer, had played the roles of designer Roger DeBris and German soldier, Franz Liebkind, both of which include some of the funniest scenes in the show. John also can be seen in the motion picture version of this Mel Brooks hit.
He was an original cast member of the Broadway production and the film version of Jekyll & Hyde and has toured the U.S. and Europe in productions of Kiss Me Kate and Cats. He spent a year and a half in Zurich playing the role of Old Mr. Deuteronomy in Cats.
He has created roles Off-Broadway in When Pigs Fly! And Batboy The Musical, and has performed in numerous regional shows as well. He can be heard on several theatrical recordings and has sung on specials such as Bravo presents Linda Eder in Concert and the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show on the ABC network-and has appeared on Law & Order, As the World Turns and Late Night with Conan O'Brien.
Through all of his career growth, he has remained true to his roots in nearby Larchmont and at Rye Country Day School. He has directed many theater productions throughout Westchester and in regional theaters, and has taught master classes in performance in many of the high schools and universities in the New York area. He gives great credit to Dick Pike, Cary Fuller and other Rye Country Day teachers for their support and continuing friendship, and maintains a strong core of friends among his classmates. On the Rye Country Day stage John performed in A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum and starred as Earthquake McGoon in L'il Abner and as Snoopy in You're a Good Man Charlie Brown.
He's a graduate of The State University of New York at Purchase where he studied music and began his career as an operatic tenor and in summer theater.
Never losing sight of "giving back" to society, John has been a fundraiser for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS and The Lord's Pantry here in Westchester. Since his high school days he has participated in benefit performances for his church in Larchmont. And, while starring in Cats, in Switzerland, he developed and directed a fund-raising production of Godspell to benefit a Zurich halfway house for drug addicts and victims of AIDS.
Last year, John was inducted into the Rye Country Day School Alumni Hall of Fame.
He's a great representative of Rye Country Day School, and I trust that he provides you with the same inspiration and sense of commitment that has shaped his life. Let's show him that his friends at Rye Country Day School can easily match the standing ovation he receives each night at the St. James Theatre.
I'm honored to present our Distinguished Alumni Award to John Treacy Egan.