In New York there’s a lot of hoopla about the Tony Awards, which are our theater version of the Oscars. Tony nominations can mean a surge in sales at the box office, while being overlooked can just as quickly end a play’s run. (As soon as the Tony nominations were announced, the producers of the play “Seminar” and "Magic/Bird" which came up empty, posted a closing notice.)
This year the Tony committee spread the love around to 30 shows that received at least one nomination. This makes for a much more interesting horse race. “Once” leads with 11 nods, but close behind with 10 nominations, are two musicals based on the music of Ira and George Gershwin, “Nice Work If You Can Get It,” and “The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess.” And nipping at their heels, there’s “Peter and the Starcatcher” with 9 nominations, followed by “Follies” and “Newsies,” which each have 8.
Wednesday morning at the Millennium Hotel in Times Square, the press was invited to a meet-and-greet with Tony nominees that was the interview equivalent of speed dating. It was a good chance to meet lots of nominees in a very little time, even if it’s all now a little bit of a blur. But hey we’re not complaining! We’re in awe of these talented troupers, who included Audra McDonald (“The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess”), Josh Young (“Jesus Christ Superstar”) and Michael Cerveris (“Evita), who were asked the same questions by a hundred different reporters and then headed out the door and to the theater for their matinee and evening performances.
Here are some excerpts from our interviews:
Martin Pakledinaz, best costume design for a musical, “Nice Work If You Can Get It.” This is his 12th Tony nomination, and he has won twice:
“Making the clothes last,” Mr. Pakledinazh said, was the biggest challenge in creating and designing period costumes. “There are some big dance numbers. In this one we tweaked the period a little bit for the women, so that we could show their figures a little more, so we moved it from 1924 to 1929, subtle.”
As for Matthew Broderick’s snub by the Tony nominating committee, “He’s the heartbeat of the show, and his simplicity of the character I think makes people think he’s not trying or working or something, but I think he’s charming.”
Jeff Calhoun, nominated for best director of a musical for “Newsies,” which received eight nominations, told us he used to live in Morristown, N.J. and as a kid took the bus into Port Authority to see Broadway shows:
About being nominated, “It beats the alternative, and I’ve had a lot of the alternative,” Mr. Calhoun. Don’t even ask if he was sleeping when the Tonys were announced. “Are you kidding? I set my alarm. Anyone who tells you they were sleeping, and it’s not exciting is full of (expletive),” He said. “I got up early so I could do the treadmill and get that out of the way, and I thought it would make the treadmill go fast knowing I had something exciting to look forward to.” Then he and his partner turned on NY-1. “I was glad they were doing them alphabetically. For directors of musicals, mine was first, and so I was just so relieved that it was the first name, cause I didn’t even hear the other three.”
Did the cast contact him? “I’m going to see them tonight,” he said. “I’m actually bringing Priscilla Presley to see ‘Newsies’ tonight.” And then he gave newjerseynewsroon.com a scoop: “She wrote a book called ‘Me and Elvis,’ that we’re talking about turning into a musical,” she said. “It’s in very early stages. I probably wasn’t allowed to say that but I’ve kind of got loose lips.”