The Drama League Luncheon on May 16 gave TheaterMania a chance to chat briefly with some of Broadway's biggest stars. Bobby Cannavale, who earned a Tony Award nomination for his work in MTC's production of Mauritius, can't wait to get back to the Biltmore Theater. "I went to see my friend S. Epatha Merkerson in Come Back, Little Sheba and I kept thinking while sitting there that it's really the perfect venue to see a play. I'd be really, really happy to come back and do something else; I'm just waiting for the phone to ring."
Laurence Fishburne tells us he's thrilled to have returned to Broadway in the solo drama Thurgood. "It's so fantastic, because I get out on that stage and I get this immediate outpouring of love from the audience, and I just try to give it back every night," he notes. "The only negative is I haven't had a Monday night off in a while, because of all the events, but I seem to be eating enough and resting enough, so it's all good."
Xanadu leading man Cheyenne Jackson -- who received (and accepted) an impromptu marriage proposal from Sunday in the Park with George star Daniel Evans at the luncheon -- isn't just looking forward to temporarily trading in his roller skates for baseball cleats in this summer's Encores! Summer Stars presentation of Damn Yankees. "I'm totally excited to work with Jane Krakowski, because we are friends and we've been dying to work with each other again since the workshop of Xanadu," he says. "And I am a huge fan of Randy Graff, even though I've never met her, so the fact that I'm playing her husband is amazing."
Harriet Harris, who steals Cry-Baby nightly as Mrs. Vernon-Williams, says she's always focused on the stage and not he audience. "I try to listen to them, but I never look, because every time I do I see old boyfriends -- even when they're not really there -- or actually particular people who treated friends of mine badly, and even though they're over it, I'm still mad."
In addition to her Drama League honor, Alli Mauzey has also earned a Theater World Award for her show-stopping performance as the definitely screwy and decidedly obsessive Lenora in Cry-Baby. "Sometimes, I wonder what it really means to get all this recognition for playing crazy, but I'll take it. I've worked really hard and I'm really excited to be considered in this company of people." Not surprisingly, Mauzey is already experiencing one of the pitfalls of being so good in the part. "I just got an offer to do a reading of a this Harry Connick Jr. piece. And it's so funny; I read the breakdown of the part they wanted me to play, and it said something like she's a neurotic elf, and I thought, 'oh, here we go already, typecasting.' But my goal is to just keep creating interesting characters. They don't have to be crazy; in fact, they can be completely shy or really reserved, and that would make me just as happy."
Being part of the all-female cast of Top Girls is definitely a special experience for the extraordinary Elizabeth Marvel, but working with six other women (and one male director) isn't what made rehearsals so unusual for her. "It wasn't so much a gender issue; it was the fact that other than Mary Beth Hurt, who wasn't with us all that often, I was the only mom in the cast. That meant I was the only actress who was up at 6am, and then went home after rehearsals to put on puppet shows and change diapers and cook food for my son, Silas, and my husband [actor Bill Camp]. Plus I was the only one of the actresses who came to the first rehearsal off-book, because I knew I just wouldn't have time to go home and learn my lines."
Passing Strange's super-talented Colman Domingo turns out to be multi-talented as well. "I'm directing this play Single Black Female again, this time at the Duke on 42nd Street. Even though it's all about being a single black woman in America, it is a play men can relate to as well. It's sort of a Kathy-and-Mo thing, where Soara-Joye Ross and Riddick Marie play about 30 characters, and they're just phenomenal. And I'm having such a great time in Passing Strange. I think there's still so much room for us to grow and be more dynamic, and once the audience is along with us for the ride, it will get even more wild and beautiful."
ARE THE STARS OUT TONIGHT?
What about next month? Heights star and co-creator Lin-Manuel Miranda will receive the National Arts Club' Gold Medal on June 2; Tony Award winner Julie White will host the Alliance of Resident Theatres Gala on June 2 at the Rainbow Room; The New York Gay Men's Chorus will present Vibrate! on June 4-5 at F.I.T.'s Haft Auditorium; Emily Skinner and Lauren Kennedy will headline the Long Wharf Theatre's 2008 Gala in New Haven on June 5; and Burt Bacharach will headline the McCarter Theatre's 30th Annual Gala Benefit in Princeton, New Jersey on June 7.
Looking ahead, New York Theatre Workshop artistic director James Nicola, film producer Albert Berger, WNET president Neal Shapriro, and television producer Rob Burnett will be honored at Tufts University's From Ballou to Broadway event on June 9 at the Regency Hotel; Oscar winner Isaac Hayes will give a free concert on June 12 to open this year's Celebrate Brooklyn festival; nine-time Tony winner Tommy Tune will be honored by Carol Channing and Florence Henderson at the Actors' Fund 12th Annual Tony Awards Bash on June 15 at the Skirball Center in Los Angeles; Jeremy Lawrence will bring his solo show Everyone Expects Me to Write Another Streetcar: An Evening with Tennessee Williams to the Abingdon Theatre, June 16-19; and Jeff Applegate, James Royce Edwards, Jimmi Kilduff, John Mandala, Chad McCallon, Crag Ramsay, Andrew Redeker, Matt Shepard and Jay Sullivan will star in a special free presentation of Matthew Passion on June 18 at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine.