A Broadway Family's Off Broadway Life

Russell Granet (left), 50, is the executive director of Lincoln Center Education. His husband, David Beach (right), 51, is an actor most recently seen on HBO’s “Veep” and on Broadway this year in “Fish in the Dark” and “It’s Only a Play.” Their daughter, Sadie Kate Granet-Beach, currently 6 and 11/12ths, is — according to Granet and Beach —the “world’s best almost-7-year-old.” Granet and Beach have been living together since 1988 and currently reside on Manhattan’s Upper West Side.

Forward: How did you meet and come to live together?

DAVID: We met in London, where we were both studying in a postgraduate theater program; we really, really didn’t like each other when the course started in September of 1987, but we began dating during a production of “The Way of the World” in the winter of 1988.

RUSSELL: I played his servant.

How did you find your home?

RUSSELL: We knew where we wanted Sadie to go to school, and looked for an apartment near there. We love the neighborhood and aren’t morning people; basically we can wake up 10 minutes before she has to be in her classroom.

Who takes out the garbage?
DAVID: Russell doesn’t even know where the garbage goes. The first and only time he played my servant was early 1988.

How are household chores divided among you?

DAVID: Russell is much better at doing almost all the household chores. Which I’m reminded of as he critiques me doing all the household chores.

Who makes breakfast?

RUSSELL: I do a great job opening yogurt containers, but David makes eggs to order. Although if I had time, I could do them better.

Describe your typical week.

DAVID: We’ve still never had one.

What’s the most unusual thing we’d see on your household budget?

DAVID: A cable bill that probably translates, if you counted the actual amount of time spent watching television, to $50 an hour.

What do you love the most about the space you live in?

RUSSELL: No question — the view.

What’s the one story that gets told and retold in your home?

DAVID: When I first held Sadie at the hospital, I wouldn’t let Russell hold her. Sadie repeats this story often, and her moral is, Daddy Day —her nickname for me — isn’t good at sharing.

Who is first to get up when your child starts crying?

RUSSELL: It’s a race.

DAVID: If she wakes up crying in the middle of the night, she always says the best things in her sleep.

RUSSELL: And I still look at her when she’s sleeping and think how lucky we are.

What would you serve at your ideal Sunday brunch?

RUSSELL: Lox with all the fixings, and the Sunday New York Times.

DAVID: With as much coffee as possible.

SADIE: Nana cereal [a sugar-covered cereal Sadie is allowed to have only when Russell’s mom visits].

Do you have an ideal Sabbath dinner?

RUSSELL: Yes, at someone else’s house. No one does a better Shabbat than our dear friends the Lazaruses, who always host.

Who’s your favorite Jewish comedian?

RUSSELL: Fanny Brice, Joan Rivers, Elayne Boosler.

DAVID: Rachel Dratch, Jon Stewart, Gene Wilder.

What is your favorite room in your home?

DAVID: I always feel lucky I can look at boats on the Hudson while taking a shower.

What is your favorite piece of art or photograph in your home?

RUSSELL: We have several close friends who are great artists, and most of our artwork comes from them. My favorite piece is the only thing you see when you walk in our front door; it’s a vibrant, red, abstract painting by Bill Mandel. Billy went to grade school with my mother in Washington Heights in the 1930s and was as much family as friend. He was a huge influence on so much of my life since moving to New York City. He passed away this past February, and seeing his painting on a daily basis makes me happy. Sadie says she thinks it’s a great piece of art because you can imagine “jumping into it and walking around.”

What is your happiest or saddest memory in your home?

DAVID: We let a film crew shoot footage of our personal life for a documentary about Broadway actors with small children. There is one snippet in which Russell is reading to Sadie — barely 3 at the time — before bedtime, and she interrupts him and looks straight in his eyes and says, “We are so in love.” We were hesitant to allow people access to our lives, but having that on film made it all worth it.

Describe your home life in three words.

DAVID: Always. Running. Late.

If you could change one thing about where you live, what would it be?

RUSSELL: My own bathroom.

DAVID: A bigger dining room table.

SADIE: A dog.

If you could change one thing about your Jewish practice, what would it be?

RUSSELL: We like that it’s evolving.

Is there an active Jewish community near you? If not, how do you create your own?

RUSSELL: Of course. In addition to our Jewish friends, I have a very large, very Jewish family.

What’s one thing you do that defines your Jewish identity?

RUSSELL: Reading and rereading children’s books explaining Jewish traditions, and sharing that framework with Sadie.

Does being Jewish distinguish you from others around you? If so, how?

RUSSELL: Well, David was raised, but no longer is, Roman Catholic. The fact that our upbringings are so different makes us each come to the table with very different ideas about Sadie’s exposure to spirituality and religious traditions.

DAVID: As a non-Jew, the aspect I love most about Judaism is the emphasis on knowledge and questioning.

What one moment stands out in your mind when you felt most connected to Judaism?

DAVID: When one of our nieces, on Russell’s side, was having a destination wedding in Cabo, she and her fiance asked me to serve as the rabbi. Their real rabbi would perform the actual ceremony in California beforehand, but when they stood under the chuppah on the beach in front of all their close friends and family, I was there with them. I was more than honored. I found it extremely moving.

RUSSELL: When we threw a party to celebrate Sadie’s arrival, we had both a Jesuit priest and a Reform rabbi present to help us mark the incredible significance of the arrival of the newest member of our wide circle of family and friends. Sadie was both blessed and named by the priest and rabbi, standing side by side. It was incredibly moving hearing her Hebrew name proclaimed for the first time: Avivah Tikvah. By honoring my grandmother Anna, and David’s father, Thom, I also felt we were expressing a very real spring of hope for the next generation.

If you would like to participate or nominate a household please contact HomeLands editor Maia Efrem at Efrem@forward.com.

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