Special Reports

Dear Tony Award Nominees: Harvey Fierstein Has Words For You

Kinky Boots nominee and the decorated king of Broadway statuettes has golden advice for first-time Tony nominees.

Verdura diamonds, luxe gift bags, lunches with Broadway luminaries. The Tony Awards boast the sparkling glamour of The Academy Awards with none of the Seth MacFarlane. For first-timers, however, being a nominee is a month-long marathon of red-carpet photo ops, industry scrutiny, and the awareness that interview faux pas will be spread on the Internet faster than a picture of a cat riding a unicorn. To help newbies prep for the big night, TheaterMania has been seeking out hints from Tony masters like beloved Kinky Boots book writer and four-time winner Harvey Fierstein who, in this open letter, gives awards-show virgins a warm welcome to the other side:

Harvey Fierstein (center) with the cast of <i>Kinky Boots</i>, nominated for 13 Tony Awards.
Harvey Fierstein (center) with the cast of Kinky Boots, nominated for 13 Tony Awards.
(© David Gordon)

Hello Virgin Tony Nominee:

You’d think by now I’d have some good advice on surviving the Tony Award season since I’ve been doing it for…THIRTY YEARS. But what do I know? Here are a few thoughts I hope will help.

1. Wear comfortable shoes. These are long days of interviews, appearances, photo shoots…Your face is going to hurt from smiling, so at least make sure your feet are good. (This goes for underwear as well.)

2. Keep gum or mints in your pocket. You may not always be able to get to the buffet. A little candy can get you through a press line. (NO CHOCOLATE! It melts and makes a mess.)

3. Think about what you’d like to read in print the next day. What would you be proud to be quoted saying? Most reporters will spark to someone when they speak from their heart. Leave the list of singing teachers at home.

4. Keep your eyes open and take it all in. Something truly special is happening to you. Even if you get here again, it won’t be the same. So try to breathe. Live in the moment. Enjoy it all. Claim your place. You’ve obviously done something extraordinary. OWN IT!

5. MOST IMPORTANTLY: If you lose, and four out of five of us will, remember that you’re in very good company. Streisand didn’t win for Funny Girl. MERMAN didn’t win for Gypsy. Clive Barnes thought Sweeney Todd‘s lyrics an embarrassment. Critics said the opera Carmen has no melodies. I promise that, within three days, no one other than you will care.

6. If you see me around at any of these events, PLEASE come and give me a hug. It may do nothing for you, but I like nothing more than a good hug from a talented person.

Break a leg!