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"New York Post" featured Alumn Bruce Barish in "The craziest Tony goes to a Bronx dry cleaner"

05/07/2018

"New York Post" featured Alumn Bruce Barish in "The craziest Tony goes to a Bronx dry cleaner"

And the Tony goes to . . . Ernest Winzer Cleaners? Spot on!

On June 10, the Bronx dry cleaner that’s kept Broadway freshly pressed for 110 years will receive an award for Excellence in the Theatre.

“The cleaners, the ushers . . . they’re as much a part of our world as the superstars we’re lucky to work with,” says longtime producer and Tony committee member Paul Libin, who wrote the letter that snagged Winzer the award. (For the record, Libin tells The Post, he also wrote a letter recommending a special Tony for that other unsung hero — Bruce Springsteen.)

Libin says he’s known about Winzer since 1956, when he was an assistant stage manager for “Happy Hunting” and something spilled on Ethel Merman’s costume. Winzer’s whisked it away after the matinee and brought it back in time for the evening show.

“When you have an emergency, you dial 911,” Libin says. “It’s the same with Winzer Cleaners. Something happens, something spills — they come and get it and get it back.”

William Ivey Long seconds that emotion. “They deal with clothes that were rode hard and put away wet, and return them in incredible shape,” says the six-time Tony winner, who’s entrusted Winzer with everything from the Chrysler Building dress he made for “The Producers” to Roxie and Velma’s glitzy “Chicago” jackets.

Winzer Cleaners opened in 1908, but there hasn’t been a Winzer there since 1952, when Bruce Barish’s grandfather, Al Steinhorn, bought the business from Ernest himself. Since then, the shop passed to Barish’s father, Miles, and then to Bruce, who schleps in from Park Ridge, NJ, most mornings at 4 or 5 a.m. to join his 20-person crew in the sprawling, mostly un-air-conditioned building in Morris Heights, across from the Major Deegan Expressway.

“We see stuff the average cleaner would never know what to do with — beaded stuff, hand-painted stuff,” says Barish. The 53-year-old Pace graduate started working at Winzer when he was 7, doing whatever little things needed doing because “my dad was always here, and this was the only way I could be around him.” Neither of his own two kids are interested in the dry-cleaning business, says Barish, but his wife, Sarah, works with him, in an office lined with theater posters.

Read the full article.