It's been a great season on Broadway, and that fact was reflected by the enormous amount of talent on hand at yesterday's reception for the 2004-2005 Tony Award nominees, held at the Marriott Marquis. Here are old pals Kathleen Turner and Philip Bosco, respectively nominated for their performances in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and Twelve Angry Men. "My wife and I met her a long time ago, when we were shooting different films in Canada," says Bosco of Turner. "She invited us to one of her spaghetti fests. What a doll she is -- if you're on her good side!" Bosco, who is now in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, describes Twelve Angry Men as "a glorious experience."
James Earl Jones, nominated for his role of Norman Thayer in On Golden Pond, says that the show's company is "amazing" and adds, "We're still sort of fine-tuning the production. The role doesn't feel challenging; it feels inviting. We love doing the play and we hope that people love seeing it."
Says Cherry Jones of her performance in Doubt, "I wanted to make sure that Sister Aloysius wasn't a stereotype, so I didn't want her to have this saintly voice. I had heard Mother Theresa speak once, and she sounded like a Romanian truck driver; her voice was very gravelly and crude. I thought, 'Of course, she's been bossing people around for 65 years, saving hundreds of thousands of lives.' You don't end up with a sweet voice when you're trying to accomplish something like that."
Brían F. O'Byrne plays Father Flynn in Doubt. Asked what it was like to arrive at the theater on Tuesday night after the show had garnered eight Tony nominations, he said: "I had actually just gotten back from a Mets/Cubs game in Chicago, so I was a little tired. But it was just thrilling to come to work that night. It was like a party. Still, once half-hour is called, you put your costume on and you get back to work.
Playwright John Patrick Shanley and director Doug Hughes are also nominated for Doubt. Says Shanley, "It's a very exciting time for the straight play on Broadway; we had Edward Albee, David Mamet, Martin McDonagh, August Wilson and Donald Margulies in one season. And the plays have been commercial as well as artistic successes. That's a great trend." Says Hughes, "Doubt has become, as they say, a play for our time. It doesn't speak to just one constituency but speaks to the whole Broadway audience -- and that's rare, because the theater has gotten kind of Balkanized."
TheaterMania asked Billy Crystal why his autobiographical solo show 700 Sundays -- nominated in the Best Special Theatrical Event category -- is scheduled to close just prior to the Tony Awards. "We have a couple of other commitments," Crystal explained, "and we weren't thinking about awards when we planned the show."
Norbert Leo Butz, of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, on how he heard about his nomination: "I have a five year old and a seven year old, and I was dropping the kids at school. I'd been up for two and a half hours, so I wasn't one of the people who got woken up with the news." On the show: "There was a big overhaul of the staging and choreography between San Diego and New York. [Choreographer] Jerry Mitchell was the one who really had to go back to the table. It's not really a dance show, it's a comedy about six people. So he had to story-tell more than choreograph, and he did it so successfully."
Here's a shot of two of the nominees for best score, David Yazbek (Dirty Rotten Scoundrels) and William Finn (The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee). Says Yazbek, "Bill Finn and I are new friends, though I haven't had a chance to see Spelling Bee yet. Adam Guettel [another nominee] is one of my best friends, so I've been hearing the score of The Light in the Piazza for a couple of years -- but I haven't seen that show, either. I am going to try to see all my competitors' shows over the next couple of weeks!"
Amy Ryan, nominated for her performance as Stella in the Roundabout Theatre Company production of A Streetcar Named Desire, played the same part in a separate production at the Kennedy Center last year. "I had to think of this production like having another sister coming to town," she says. "How can you choose between Patricia Clarkson and Natasha Richardson? We only had a two-and-a-half-week run in D.C., and I'm a New Yorker, so I'm happy to have a job here." Of the rich but somewhat overshadowed character Stella, Ryan notes: "Someone once said that Tennessee Williams wrote one of the greatest roles in American theater; it's just that he put it in the same play as Blanche Du Bois!"
Here's Wayne Cilento, choreographer of Sweet Charity, the Broadway run of which was almost canceled when star Christina Applegate broke her foot during the show's tryout tour. "I can't believe I'm here because I can't believe the show's here," says Cilento. "Christina is such a trouper, and she's such an inspiration to all of us. My hat is off to her. And I'm so glad that she got recognized with a Tony nomination, because she breaks your heart in this part. It's such a different take than Gwen Verdon's or Shirley MacLaine's."
Billy Crudup, who plays the central role in The Pillowman, says that he had no expectations as to whether or not he would receive a Tony nomination:
"I'm never entirely sure if people think I'm doing a good job or not doing a good job. I try to have some kind of internal sense of what I think of my work and what I think of the play, so I'm not so easily toyed with by reviews or nominations. That's a very hard way to live."
Michael Stuhlbarg gained some weight to play Crudup's brother in The Pillowman. According to Stuhlbarg, "The character's physical look was a combination of my ideas and the director John Crowley's ideas, and some sketches I had done. I had a talk with John right after I finished Belle Epoque. He said, 'Lose the beard, leave the hair alone, and definitely don't go on a diet. Keep eating! I figured my character probably eats for comfort. And it hasn't affected my health very much, so I've been able to sustain it."
Marc Kudisch, who plays Baron Bomburst in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, says that performing the role is as much fun as it looks. "It's a great show with a great company. And it's got real heart, which a lot of shows don't have. It doesn't make fun of itself. It's not embarrassed by its open-heartedness, and I really appreciate that."
Says Sara Ramirez, who plays The Lady of the Lake in Monty Python's Spamalot, "My life right now is so much about getting sleep that I just turn my ringer off every night, so I was asleep in my bed when the nominations were announced. Then I woke up and I had 19 missed calls. The first one was from [fellow Spamalot cast member and fellow Tony nominee] Chris Sieber; that was a really nice way to find out. I'm so excited! I'm trying to keep my feet on the ground and still have fun."
And here's Michael McGrath, also nominated for Spamalot. "I did a reading of the show a year ago," says McGrath. "A month later, they called and said, 'Mike Nichols would love you to do the show.' After I got up off the floor, I said 'Yes!' I saw the movie when it came out in 1975 and I was a fan but not a fanatic. I enjoyed the Monty Python stuff but I couldn't have quoted a lot of it, like some of the people in our audience do! The show has turned out so great. My daughter has been to see it twice; she's kind of a Broadway baby, in a way."
[To access a complete list of this year's Tony nominees, click here. The 2004-2005 Tony Awards ceremony will be held at Radio City Musical Hall on Sunday, June 5 and broadcast live on CBS television from 8pm to 11pm. ]