"One of the things that got me hooked on audiobooks was hearing E.B. White's reading of CHARLOTTE'S WEB. After doing my first recording in 1991, the producer gave me a copy for my kids," Tony — says. "It was an eye-opening experience and set the gold standard for me. White evoked all those characters so minimally." Working from New York in the 1990s while he garnered accolades for his stage work on Broadway, Tony recorded some titles that are among listeners' favorites, MIDNIGHT IN THE GARDEN OF GOOD AND EVIL (1997) and WHERE THE RED FERN GROWS (1995), and patched into the terrifically popular Star Wars single-voice recordings. Among the several dozen recorded, CHAMPIONS OF THE FORCE and SLAVE SHIP are just two that received Earphones Awards. Tony notes that getting all those voices and then keeping them consistent as characters recurred over more than a six-year period was a considerable challenge.
"I do dearly love a challenge," Tony says, and these days the challenges come from a different level of complexity. Tony now lives in Ashland, Oregon, and is a resident member of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival acting company. Ashland is also home to Blackstone Audiobooks and their new recording studios. Tony is part of a major project of recording the classics. He recently completed THE GREAT GATSBY, ELMER GANTRY, THE HOUSE OF SEVEN GABLES, and CRIME AND PUNISHMENT. A 2007 OSF performance of THE CHERRY ORCHARD got "my Russian feet wet," and the Dostoevsky was a particular favorite. "It's catnip for a reader" he says. "It's not a narrative, but a book of people talking about what's happening to them-all in character. As an actor, you really have something to sink your teeth into, and it's also just great literature." Tony has also embarked on the recording of all of Chekhov's short stories. "The language is so rich and complex-thoughts may extend 3, 4, or 5 lines. It's fun, and a challenge to wrap your mind and tongue around."
In contemporary works, Tony has just recorded Tobias Wolff's OUR STORY BEGINS, as well as nonfiction and motivational titles that show his ability to adapt to different topics and writing styles. The extreme adventure of SHATTERED contrasts with the cultural and economic study of SCREWED. The H. L. Mencken biography DISTURBER OF THE PEACE contrasts with THE ULTIMATE SALES MACHINE. Tony's versatility is impressive, and he articulates an inspired philosophy. "The audiobook artist's responsibility is to enable the listener to connect with the words of the author. If the listening experience is more of one paying attention to the performance of material than to the material itself, then the reader has failed."—Robin F. Whitten