It takes a lot of courage to follow just one dream in life, and it takes something extra special to reach for more. Weehawken resident Gary Stevens thinks he’s found that something.
“It’s ‘chutzpah,’ ” said Stevens last week. “Drive, nerve, passion, confidence. I really have never been afraid.”
A Weehawken resident since 2002, Stevens was recently featured in a cover article of the December issue of Luxury Travel Advisor highlighting his career. Stevens focuses on high-end travel as the vice-president of leisure sales at Leaders In Travel Ltd., based in Great Neck, N.Y. But prior to his career in the travel industry, Stevens was a child actor, and he is still a theater fan who has written a book on “A Chorus Line.”
Stevens made his Broadway debut at age 9 and was singing in Sondheim productions by 18. He has appeared in over 100 national television commercials and voiceovers.
Stevens was part of the original Broadway cast of “Merrily We Roll Along,” which starred Jason Alexander.
Stevens took his acting to a cruise ship, then was eventually able to use his connections in the travel industry to work in the luxury travel field.
“There’s nothing like traveling,” said Stevens, a native New Yorker. “New cultures, meeting people.” Stevens estimates that he has travelled to 30 or more countries. Still on his wish list are Africa and Australia, where he plans on spending his 25th anniversary next year.
Proposed ‘A Chorus Line’ memorial
While developing in the travel industry, Stevens was able to keep one foot in the theatre world by working in promotions for Broadway tours. “[Theatre] is always in your blood,” he said. “It’s always your life and your passion.”
Stevens, who was part of the original Broadway cast of “Merrily We Roll Along” starring Jason Alexander, not only acted on the Great White Way, but is a lifelong aficionado.
One of the tours he promoted was his beloved favorite, “A Chorus Line.” In the 1990s, Stevens became a well known fan of “A Chorus Line.” In 1990, he and his partner led the charge to have a permanent memorial for the show in the Schubert Theatre, where it ran for over 6,000 performances.
By 1991, a plaque was unveiled in the lobby commemorating “A Chorus Line.” It still hangs there today.
“It’s quite a great feeling to have your name up on Broadway all the time,” said Stevens. His name is listed under the plaque along with his partner in appreciation for their work.
“You learn from all that,” said Stevens, regarding the experience of rallying fans for the plaque. “I’ve always been selling.”
His fan status was soon upgraded to historian when he was asked to co-author a book detailing the famous production, one of the longest running in Broadway history. In 1995, “The Longest Line” was published.
Stevens conducted over 125 detailed interviews for the book, a skill which he still uses today in the travel industry when speaking with clients. “It was awe inspiring,” said Stevens. “I wanted to make sure the truths were presented, but it also enriched my life.”
Rolling along, merrily
Getting the cover of Luxury Travel was the culmination of a dream for Stevens, but he is still looking forward to more. “I just have never wanted to stop,” said Stevens. “I’ve always believed you need to put multiple ideas and projects on the table.”
For now, those ideas revolve around developing and growing his business in the travel industry. Stevens said he focuses on learning the lives of his clients and providing them with the most personal experience possible. It’s a strategy which has garnered many repeat customers, including celebrities.
But he does not rule out the possibility of returning to the theatre one day, perhaps as a director. “My life has always been theatre world and travel world,” said Stevens. “I feel very blessed that I have made a career out of my passions.”
Stevens’ book, “The Longest Line,” is available for order on Amazon.com.
Lana Rose Diaz can be reached at email@example.com.