Several of this year's Tony nominees are first-timers, a huge honor that they'll not only remember forever, but that will also change their lives. As we've done in years past, we quizzed several of these newbies on the other major, comparable firsts that they've experienced, from the first award they remember winning to the theatrical event that initially set them off on their path to stardom.
Nominee: Elisabeth Moss
Best Leading Actress in a Play, The Heidi Chronicles
First Job: Lucky Chances, a miniseries where I played Sandra Bullock's daughter when I was, like, sixish. I don't really remember her, but I remember I had to do a scene where I find her dead in the pool. I, of course, thought this was fun.
First New York City Apartment: Ninth Street in the East Village.
First Theatrical Experience: I grew up going to see The Nutcracker every year, so I'm pretty sure my first theatrical experience was seeing The Nutcracker at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in L.A.
First Role You Played Onstage: Franny in Franny's Way, a Playwrights Horizons production at the Atlantic Theater Company.
First Award You Remember Winning: Peabody Award for Mad Men.
Nominee: Beth Malone
Best Leading Actress in a Musical, Fun Home
First Job: I grew up in rural Colorado and didn't get to the city very often as it was 30 miles down I-25. When I turned 14, my mom took me to see Fiddler on the Roof at Country Dinner Playhouse in Denver. Well...I floated home, I was dizzy from the experience, I sang the score for days and the story not only transported me for the duration of the show, but haunted me for days after. In other words I was hooked. So the day I turned 16, I got my driver's license so I could drive myself to the CDP to work as a hostess. And that's exactly what I did. My first job was eavesdropping on rehearsals of those amazing actors I worshipped while filling the salt and pepper shakers.
First New York City Apartment: Second Avenue between 72nd and 73rd. My "bedroom" was a low shelf over the master bedroom's walk in closet. I worked at Pudgie's Chicken on the ground floor and an office job to make that rent. Good times.
First Theatrical Experience: God's Favorite. Douglas County High School production, directed by the incredible Wally Larson who would later become my mentor.
First Role You Played Onstage: Annie. Castle Rock Jr. High.
First Award You Remember Winning: Class Clown. Senior year.
Nominee: Emily Skeggs
Best Featured Actress in a Musical, Fun Home
First Job: Rakin' leaves and foldin' laundry for good ole Moms and Pops. Wasn't much but it was enough for me to buy my own marbles, so I was happy. Marbles are the knees of the bees, catch my drift?
First New York City Apartment: When I was a barely born and swaddled-tight little babe, my parents took me home to our apartment on the Upper West Side and I haven't left since! Let's hear it for rent stabilization, what what (oh and thanks Mom and Dad).
First Theatrical Experience: My parents took me to Guys and Dolls when I was four. Apparently, the ushers wouldn't let me in at first, and my parents had to convince them I was a good little girl. They might've regretted it only a bit, because I spent the next couple of weeks dancing around the house singing "Take back yah mink, take back yah pearls, what made you think that I was one of those girls." I love my parents, a lot.
First Role You Played Onstage: In first grade, my friend Emma and I wrote a series of short plays called Stargirl, about a girl whose best friend is a star who comes down out of the sky at night and they go on adventures together and get in trouble and catch criminals and stuff. We somehow convinced our teacher to let us cast the whole class and perform it during free period, and I remember we rolled up construction paper into cones for Emma to wear on her head and arms. Emma was the star, I was the girl.
First Award You Remember Winning: When I was six I won a fourth place ribbon in an ice skating competition. But it was really a last place ribbon because there were only four of us. My mom thinks it's because I insisted on dancing very seriously in all black to Andrea Boccelli. I remember standing in fourth place, looking at the girl who won first place in her sparkly pink spandex with her hairsprayed curly ponytail thinking, "What is wrong with these people?!" Again, I really love my parents.
Nominee: Sam Gold
Best Director of a Musical, Fun Home
First Job: I was a secretary at a hedge fund when I first got out of college. But my main responsibility there was comic relief.
First New York City Apartment: I grew up on 72nd and York in Manhattan.
First Theatrical Experience: Starlight Express on Broadway. It was awesome.
First Role You Played Onstage: I was the "V" in a Shel Silverstein poem in first grade.
First Award You Remember Winning: Various soccer trophies kids get for "participation."
Nominee: Patricia Clarkson
Best Featured Actress in a Play, The Elephant Man
First Job: Lifeguard at a country club in New Orleans at age 17.
First New York City Apartment: Pierrepont Street in Brooklyn Heights, shared with [playwright] Richard Greenberg.
First Theatrical Experience: Eighth grade — a play called F.L.I.P.P.E.D (Feminist Liberation Idealist Party for Permanent Equality and Democracy)
First Role You Played Onstage: Second grade, The Thanksgiving Play. Had one line: "O' Brother John."
First Award You Remember Winning: Age 14 — won a citywide competition doing a monologue as Emily from Our Town.
Nominee: Tony Yazbeck
Best Leading Actor in a Musical, On the Town
First Job: It was as a "Newsboy" in Tyne Daly's Gypsy. (When the show closed, my next job was working on a farm picking pea pods, strawberries, and tomatoes.)
First New York City Apartment: I shared an apartment in September 2001, with the intention of getting my own place asap. One week into crashing on Don Rey's couch, however (we'd just done Guys and Dolls and The Scarlet Pimpernel at Maine State Music Theater together, along with [On the Town costar] Clyde Alves, but I digress…)...One week into the arrangement, the terrorist attacks of 9/11 took place, so I stayed with Don for three or four more months. We became best friends in the process and remain so to this day.
The first apartment I rented on my own, though, was in Sunnyside, Queens. Actually…I wasn't alone there, either. I shared that place with a ton of roaches. They were everywhere! I'd come home from doing Oklahoma! on Broadway, grab two cans from my cupboard, and try to kill them…which as it turns out is a shockingly ineffective method of pest control.
First Theatrical Experience: Age five. My first dance recital. I performed the number "Showbiz Kid!" It was the first time I'd ever tapped onstage...Yes, I can still sing the song: [sung] "A show biz kid/ for all to see/ a show biz kid/ that's me!"
First Role You Played Onstage: "Clarence and His Classic Clarinet/Newsboy" in the aforementioned Gypsy with Tyne Daly.
First Award You Remember Winning: Young Mister Dance of Pennsylvania, 1987. (I still have the trophy somewhere.) My wife Katie Huff's is even better, though. She won "Best Sharer" in kindergarten.
Nominee: Joshua Bergasse
Best Choreography, On the Town
First Job: Dancing for Toyota in the auto shows.
First New York City Apartment: Astoria, 30th Ave. and 35th St. — loved that place!
First Theatrical Experience: The National Touring Company of Cats in Detroit.
First Role You Played Onstage: Baby John in West Side Story.
First Award You Remember Winning: Dance Competition Award probably around the age of 12.
Nominee: Ruthie Ann Miles
Best Featured Actress in a Musical, The King and I
First Job: I'm not sure if I was ever paid as a babysitter, so that might not count. My first real job was scooping ice cream at TCBY in Honolulu; I was 15. When interviewing for the job and asked why I would be a good employee, I'm pretty sure I said, "Because I really like ice cream." That remains true to this day. #TeamHaagenDaaz
First New York City Apartment: I first moved to NYC to attend a master's program at NYU Steinhardt. It was an easy commute (and easier on my pocket) to live in Jersey City. So I took the PATH train and walked across Washington Square Park every day.
First Theatrical Experience: My mom has many embarrassing stories about my rambunctious childhood. When I was just three or four we saw Grease on the US Army Base in South Korea. She jokes it was the first time she got me to be still for more than nap time.
First Role You Played Onstage: In high school I auditioned for the spring musical on a dare, and was surprised to be cast in the ensemble of Once Upon a Mattress. I got to dance the Spanish Panic — which was so much fun. Where is that revival?!
First Award You Remember Winning: I was awarded the Theatre World Award in 2013 for playing Imelda Marcos in Here Lies Love. It continues to be so meaningful to me because of the warm welcome and introduction to this amazing community of storytellers. I cherish that (surprisingly) heavy piece of glass.
Nominee: Ken Watanabe
Best Leading Actor in a Musical, The King and I
First Job: My first job was cleaning the stairs in my house.
First New York City Apartment: I currently reside in my first New York City apartment, which is almost like living at Lincoln Center. It is a five-minute walk between the two.
First Theatrical Experience: Lemmings by Shuji Terayama. I had no clue what was going on.
First Role You Played Onstage: I played a Navy soldier in a play with three actors during my drama school days.
First Award You Remember Winning: When I was 25, I won the newcomer award at the Kumamoto Film Festival in Kyushu, Japan. After accepting the award at the ceremony, I remember flying back to Tokyo and fighting a snowstorm to get home.
Nominee: Robert Fairchild
Best Leading Actor in a Musical, An American in Paris
First Job: Newspaper boy.
First New York City Apartment: Two-bedroom in Harlem.
First Theatrical Experience: Ballet West's The Nutcracker.
First Role You Played Onstage: Fritz in he Nutcracker.
First Award You Remember Winning: First overall at a dance competition called I Love Dance, it was a tap solo to "I Could Drive a Person Crazy."
Nominee: Brandon Uranowitz
Best Featured Actor in a Musical, An American in Paris
First Job: Selling clothes to lots of entitled rich women at Barneys.
First New York City Apartment: On MacDougal Street with three of my best friends at NYU. Our place was infamously called "The 56."
First Theatrical Experience: Seeing Peter Pan with Cathy Rigby when I was three.
First Role You Played Onstage: The forgotten (read: completely made-up) role of Konrad, Gretel's "twin brother" in The Sound of Music at day camp in New Jersey. I was seven. I guess I couldn't play a nun. Whatever.
First Award You Remember Winning: The first award that comes to mind — because it's utter absurdity — was in high school. I was awarded a certificate for "Excellence in the Performing Arts for Playing a Variety of Types of Characters, and Sustained Over a Period of Time." Whatever that means...I guess "Best Actor" wasn't quiiiiiite specific enough for them.
Nominee: Max von Essen
Best Featured Actor in a Musical, An American in Paris
First Job: First theater job was playing Jack in Into the Woods at a dinner theater in North Carolina. First job, in general, was being a bus boy through high school.
First New York City Apartment: Well, when I first came back to NYC, my apartment was basically a couch in my parents one-bedroom on the Upper East side. My first apartment was in Astoria, Queens.
First Theatrical Experience: Experience is the perfect word for it. I was in elementary school and auditioned for a local production of Annie. However, the local drama guild took a bit of license and called it The Orphans and I was cast as one of their young male orphans.
First Role You Played Onstage: Must have been the Minstrel in Once Upon a Mattress in eighth grade, unless you count unnamed boy orphan.
First Award You Remember Winning: I'll let you know.
Nominee: Ben Miles
Best Leading Actor in a Play, Wolf Hall: Parts One & Two
First Job: Potato picking back home in Derbyshire.
First New York City Apartment: The Atelier Building on 42nd between 11th and 12th Avenues, 41st floor looking west and south. Amazing views!
First Theatrical Experience: Seeing a troupe of Zulu drummers I think in Derby, England. I must have been about five years old.
First Role You Played Onstage: Seaton in Macbeth at high school, age 16.
First Award You Remember Winning: School sports day 1975!! I think it was the 100 meters sprint.
Nominee: Lydia Leonard
Best Featured Actress in a Play, Wolf Hall: Parts One & Two
First Job: It was in a fish-and-chip shop on the Isle of Wight off the coast of England. I had to lie and tell them I was 16. I lasted about a week!
First New York City Apartment: On Rivington Street, Lower East Side. It's where I am now, I love it. It has exposed brick which feels very New York to us Brits.
First Theatrical Experience: The Wind in the Willows at the National Theatre. I was obsessed with the way the weasels all moved, and the beautiful set.
First Role You Played Onstage: Herod in the nativity play, age eight. I had an awesome song.
First Award You Remember Winning: A reading prize at primary school, age 10. I read a bit from Black Beauty, and I won a hard copy of the book. Proudest moment.
Nominee: Nathaniel Parker
Best Featured Actor in a Play, Wolf Hall: Parts One & Two
First Job: Captain Brazen in The Recruiting Officer at Theatre Clwyd.
First New York City Apartment: Under the A of Harlem, 26 years ago.
First Theatrical Experience: Seeing my brother play the Bloody Sergeant in Macbeth and behaving as if he had the lead.
First Role You Played Onstage: The Pied Piper at school.
First Award You Remember Winning: The Spoken Word Award in Chicago for reading Artemis Fowl on audio book.
Nominee: Alex Sharp
Best Featured Actor in a Play, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
First Job: Butcher's assistant. I was 13 and spent the work day scrubbing blood off the walls of the walk in freezer. It was horrendous, but it redefined "elbow grease" for me.
First New York City Apartment: When I first moved to New York to study at Juilliard, I had literally no money. I rented a room in Harlem from a very elderly man called Pedro. It was tiny and the apartment wasn't very clean, but it was all I could afford...And it was enough, as everything I owned was in the backpack I turned up with.
First Theatrical Experience: While my family was traveling in the first portion of my life when I lived in the US, we were visiting friends on a Hopi Indian Reservation in Albuquerque, New Mexico. There was a festival happening at the time, parades and dances through the streets with spectacular costumes and music like I had never heard before. I was four years old and got up and joined them dancing the streets, and they very kindly let me. It was magical.
First Role You Played Onstage: Piglet in Winnie The Pooh. I was seven.
First Award You Remember Winning: I came first in a singing competition in the South of England when I was 17.
Nominee: Richard McCabe
Best Featured Actor in a Play, The Audience
First Job: Supernumerary at Glyndebourne Opera in 1977. First proper job was a play about the Sex Pistols. All the music was played live to an audience of punk rockers.
First New York City Apartment: In 1980 at the end of a coast-to-coast tour of the USA with a band. We stayed on a friends floor at Rockaway while we played our New York dates.
First Theatrical Experience: A US touring company came to our school and performed The Pirates of Penzance. I was entranced!
First Role You Played Onstage: Age 11, the lead in a play written by my inspirational English teacher at school. When I had to change my name professionally I called myself Richard in his honor.
First Award You Remember Winning: I won the school drama prize for playing Sweeney Todd in the Victorian melodrama. I still have the poster for the show on my wall at home!
Nominee: Micah Stock
Best Featured Actor in a Play, It's Only a Play
First Job: Breakfast cook/server at a Steak 'n Shake in Ohio.
First New York City Apartment: A small room in a convent on the Upper West Side. No joke.
First Theatrical Experience: The first one I really remember is a touring production of 42nd Street when I was five-ish. No idea what it was about, but I was riveted.
First Role You Played Onstage: The pivotal role of "The Dancing Skunk" in my second-grade play.
First Award You Remember Winning: The Coach's Award for the Oakwood Dolphins swim team when I was seven or eight. Pretty sure it's an award that they give to kids who are sh*tty athletes but kinda fun to have around.
- Beth Malone
- Tyne Daly
- Sam Gold
- Tony Awards
- Patricia Clarkson
- Tony Yazbeck
- New Orleans
- Ruthie Ann Miles
- Emily Skeggs
- 2015 Tony Awards
- Tony Awards 2015
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