Playwright Tony Finstrom is passionate about theater. Besides writing his own plays, he is an associate producer for Jan McArt’s New Play Reading Series at Lynn University, a judge for the regional Carbonell Awards, the organizer of the Theater League’s Silver Palm Awards and a patron of several local theater companies.
But the Michigan native’s love for theater goes much deeper than his resume. Just step into his New River condo and the evidence is everywhere. Over more than 50 years, he has amassed a collection of rare and valuable theater posters, memorabilia, books and mementos such as mugs and refrigerator magnets from virtually every Broadway show he sees.
“I have so many more in the closet,” he explained with his youthful grin and a chuckle. There must be a dozen posters in his bathroom and another half dozen lining the hallway.
Among his favorites are a paper fan promoting a performance of “The Merry Widow,” circa 1900, and a poster for a 1963 production of “Student Gypsy” that starred Eileen Brennan and opened and closed in one week. He especially likes posters from the “flops” during the 1960s.
And then there is the Tony Awards mug, “The ‘Tony’ mug ‘Tony’ drinks his coffee out of every morning,” he added.
Finstrom, who ran a small chain of party goods stores in the Hamptons and moved to Fort Lauderdale full time in 1988, also maintains an apartment in Manhattan, a short crosstown walk from the famed theater district. The “rest” of his collection remains there, ready to welcome him home on his periodic trips to catch up on the latest openings.
“It’s very difficult to find anything from the 30s, 40s and 50s,” Finstrom said. “But I keep looking.”
Finstrom’s friendly pooch, Georgy (named for the song, “Georgy Girl”), doesn’t mind living in a shrine to theater. She’s content to sit on the couch in the study and watch Finstrom write, surrounded by a library of books about theater, and she does.