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2012 Tony Award Nominees React

Christian Borle, Stockard Channing, Jeremy Jordan, Judith Light, John Lithgow, Norm Lewis, Audra McDonald, Josh Young and more react to their Tony Award nominations. logo
Stockard Channing
(© Tristan Fuge)
TheaterMania is speaking to and receiving statements from the nominees for the 2012 Tony Awards.

Rob Ashford (Evita, Best Choreography)
"It's still nerve-racking and exciting to be a possible Tony nominee, and I am glad it still is. As for Evita, I'm particularly proud of this work, because it is always a challenge to find dance where it might not be expected in a show. Of course, now when you mention Argentina, the first thing you think of is dance. But, to be fair, when they first did this show over 30 years ago Argentina was quite mysterious, which is why there wasn't as much choreography in the original production."

Jon Robin Baitz (Other Desert Cities, Best Play)
"My dog is especially excited for me; he brought me his striped fox, which is this rare occurrence. I feel like I've done everything right with this show, which is an unfamiliar but pleasant feeling. And I think the whole group of nominees represents a vitality and ambition in the American theater. It's hard for me to be totally over the moon, though, because I wouldn't be here if not for our director Joe Mantello, who was not nominated. His work is so extraordinary."

John Lee Beatty (Other Desert Cities, Best Scenic Design of a Play)
"I am currently in rehearsals for Gentlemen Prefer Blonds at Encores! and was arranging jewelry cases when I heard the news. We started Other Desert Cities last year Off-Broadway, and all knew instantly that we had something special. Thanks to Lincoln Center Theater, Jon Robin Baitz and Joe Mantello for including me in such an amazing team of artists."

Christian Borle (Peter and the Starcatcher, Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Play)
"I am so excited; who doesn't hope for a Tony Award nomination! I was so happy to hear Celia Keenan Bolger's name, and with each Starcatcher name, I got more and more elated. We've been doing this show for a few years now, and this is a beautiful culmination of all this work. It's been such an extraordinary collaboration with Rick Elice, Roger Rees, and Alex Timbers, who have allowed me to wring every moment out of this ridiculous part. They have been so generous to me and the cast has been very patient to me as well, and I am so grateful. And yes, it was so cool to have Smash air last night, and have this happen this morning; it's great to be the belle of the ball."

Phillip Boykin (The Gershwins' Porgy & Bess, Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical)
"I woke up around 6am and I couldn't go back to sleep -- all these thoughts about the possibility of being nominated were spinning around in my head. At 8:30, I was watching CBS, but they only listed four categories -- not mine -- and I thought if I had been nominated, someone would have texted or called, so I figured I hadn't. But then I found the video of the nominations on the computer, and then I heard my name and my picture came up, and then my body started shaking. It's so surreal. And the funny thing is I turned down Porgy & Bess four times. When they were doing the workshop I was working on Séance on a Wet Afternoon at New York City Opera. It was my first time in New York and I felt I couldn't do both and do my best on both. But the fourth time they called about Porgy and Bess, I finally said yes. Can you believe I almost missed getting a Tony nomination?"

Danny Burstein (Follies, Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical)
"It's my third time as a Tony nominee. And it just gets better and sweeter every single time. I actually missed the webcast, but as soon as I went to the Tony Awards website, I whooped for my pals Norm Lewis and Ron Raines. I am really excited to be with all the other guys in this category. Of course, it's tough that Bernadette Peters and Elaine Page are not there."

Michael Cerveris (Evita, Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical)
"I was on my way this morning to the studio to record the cast album and I got the phone call. And being with everyone in our company was the best way to celebrate. This nomination, for me, feels especially exciting, because it feels like the recognition of all the work we've done to reinvent the character of Juan Peron -- a character that been beautifully portrayed before by such people as Bob Gunton and Jonathan Pryce. When I first looked at the script, I found he doesn't say and sing as much as I expected. But I don't feel unsatisfied at the end of the performance at all. Michael Grandage, our director, has given him a weight and a stature so that he's a presence on stage, at least in this production, even when he's not speaking. And I liked that challenge. Acting is not just about when you're talking; it's about ways of using silences. I also have to say working with Elena Roger has been inspirational; whatever I've been able to accomplish is largely due to playing opposite her."

Stockard Channing (Other Desert Cities, Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Play)
"It's still nerve-wracking, exciting -- it still feels like high school. Judith Light and I were just asking ourselves why we put ourselves through this, but I guess we're just hardwired that way. But this nomination feels particularly gratifying. It not only took a long time to get to Broadway, but it's been sort of a long haul since we opened on Broadway, and we try to keep it fresh. I think Stacy Keach and I have created this extraordinary reality of marriage and I can't say enough about him. As for playing Polly, from the beginning, our director Joe Mantello told me not to soft-pedal her. The script says she's smart, witty, and forthright and that's true. I wouldn't say some of the things she says, but I know what she's thinking all the time. And her toughness makes her who she is -- all of which makes her a great character to play every night."

James Corden (One Man, Two Guvnors, Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Play)
"I'm absolutely thrilled to be nominated for a Tony Award and to see my name on a list with these four American acting legends is overwhelming."

NEXT PAGE: Michael Cumpsty, David Alan Grier, Jeremy Jordan, Spencer Kayden, and more.
Jeremy Jordan
(© Tristan Fuge)
Michael Cumpsty (End of the Rainbow, Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Play)
Having done theater this long, I wasn't planning to wake up and watch the nominations. So I was awoken in bed with the news, which is the best way to hear it. And since about 15 minutes after that, I've been hearing from people I love and people I haven't heard from in years. It's been a blast. I've done a lot of shows and I wasn't sure if the role would make a strong enough impression this field of actors, especially with some of the great comedic performances of the season. I am grateful to my co-star Tracie Bennett. I think all of us in the company stand in awe of Tracie; she has the greatest level of commitment and consistency of anyone I have ever worked with, and she has helped make this one of the best experiences I've ever had in theater. Because I grew up overseas, I didn't have the same emotional experience of growing up with Judy Garland; so I thought I should study her. But once I started working on this show, I realized I didn't need to. I just had to respond to Tracie every night."

Joe DiPietro (Nice Work If You Can Get It, Best Book of a Musical)
"It's been a fun morning. Getting a Tony nomination, even after winning a Tony Award, still brings out the starry-eyed kid in me. This show is personal to me in a different way than Memphis, because I really love comedy and I love those old musicals of the 1920s. I wanted Nice Work to be my take on those shows -- a great screwball comic musical done in a modern way. All the characters in our show eventually find joy, and I wanted convey that to an audience. And it's been a thrill to hear them laugh every night."

Rick Elice (Peter and the Starcatcher, Best Play)
"This is great, I remember the day when Roger Rees and Alex Timbers asked me to write scenes for the first workshop of the show, then being asked to write the play itself and thinking how I might do that, and then doing out in LaJolla. Then we came to New York Theatre Workshop and thought it was so great that we got to do it in New York and I did not have to fly anywhere to see it. And then we talked about Broadway, but it seemed there was high improbability of everything coming together -- finding the right theater and having all our actors available -- and then I remember walking in and seeing the set on stage and thinking it looks pretty good. And then I remember our amazing opening night. And now this. This is good, I recommend it."

David Alan Grier (The Gershwins' Porgy & Bess, Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical)
"I was emceeing the NCTF Gala last night and I joked that it might be the only award ceremony I would be at this season. You never know. So this morning I had everything turned off, was listening to NPR and relaxing, and then around 8:30, I turned the phone on -- and all hell broke loose. The most overwhelming thing to me is that we got 10 total nominations. That just blew me away. We fought so hard during our run in Cambridge to make it to Broadway so people could judge for themselves what we were doing after so much controversy. There were definitely times, I didn't know if we would make it to New York. But we made it and now I get to do this great show every night, and to watch my fellow nominees Audra McDonald, Norm Lewis, and Philip Boykin, and I am so happy. I emailed our director, Diane Paulus, and told her that I feel her hand on my shoulder and her voice in my ear every time I go on stage, especially if I feel any doubt about what I'm doing."

Jayne Houdyshell (Follies, Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical)
"I'm very pleased, and a little bit in shock. I'm in L.A. and we start tech today, so I was sound asleep when the nominations were announced. I woke up around 7:30, checked my email, and when I saw there was quite a bit more than usual, that was the tipoff. I was thrilled to get the role of Hattie, but also a little daunted. There have been so many iconic interpretations of her number, "Broadway Baby," and that was a little intimidating. But once I started seriously thinking about it, and the context of the number within Follies, I found my own way into it. And it's been a pure joy to do ever since. And I love being Hattie, because she's the sort of woman who isn't represented on the musical stage all that often."

David Ives (Venus In Fur, Best Play)
"I'm delighted, thrilled, and all the words in the thesaurus that mean that. It was great fun to write, to collaborate with our director, Walter Bobbie, and to rehearse with Nina Arianda, Wes Bentley, and then Hugh Dancy. I think the play has shown itself to be amazingly solid in its transformation from Classic Stage to Manhattan Theatre Club to the Lyceum. It's certainly gotten richer along the way, and even a little shorter thanks to my pen."

Jeremy Jordan (Newsies, Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical)
"I've never had my name called as a Tony nominee before. I was watching on a computer, and it was pretty incredible. I'm so thrilled that as far as Newsies, we got so much of what we hoped for, and that there were also a couple for Bonnie & Clyde. I'm so happy for Laura Osnes and Frank Wildhorn. It's really been a great morning."

Michael Kahn (Shakespeare Theatre Company, Regional Theatre Award recipient)
"I am so honored to have the work of the Shakespeare Theatre Company recognized in this way.This is a very touching tribute to have the work of all of the artists and staff who have been a part of our 25-year history acknowledged. We are so thankful to our Board of Trustees, supporters and patrons who have helped shape us into the artistic institution that we have become."

Spencer Kayden (Don't Dress For Dinner, Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Play)
"It's delightful! Who doesn't want to be nominated for a Tony Award? I didn't think I would care, but I do. When we did the show in Chicago, I knew they were hoping to bring it to New York. And then I forgot about the show for about three years until I got this random call from the Roundabout, which just proves that in this business there's no telling what's going to happen. It's such an honor and whatever happens on June 10 doesn't matter; it's just fun to be among the other great ladies in this category."

NEXT PAGE: Judy Kaye, Norm Lewis, John Lithgow, Judith Light, Audra McDonald, and more.
Norm Lewis and Audra McDonald
(© David Gordon)
Judy Kaye (Nice Work If You Can Get It, Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical)
"I'm thrilled. Every time you're nominated is a little bit different, because it relates to your life differently. But the good thing is I know what this month is going to be like. I am so happy this part has turned out to be as much fun to play as it looks, which I couldn't have imagined going in. But it's a superscript to play, and I love the Gershwin music. And Michael McGrath and I are like a vaudeville team, and that is what I am at my essence -- a real vaudevillian."

Celia Keenan-Bolger (Peter and the Starcatcher, Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Play)
"I am just so over the moon and am so excited for our show. Of course, I was up and watching the nominations on TV. After you've been nominated once before, you can't ignore them. You're so much aware of the hoopla. I've been with this show for three years, which makes this nomination even more sweet. I feel like I have a personal investment in this show -- we've all put in a lot of work and really care into it. I want to go to the theater right now, because I know tonight is going to be a special night."

Frank Langella(Man and Boy, Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Play)
"I am surprised and grateful."

Norm Lewis (The Gershwins' Porgy & Bess, Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical)
"I am so excited. I was going to be nonchalant and be asleep and wait for people to call me -- I even had the DVR set. But I couldn't sleep and I was watching. But even after my name was called, I still had to rewind the tape to make sure. It's kind of awesome to be nominated for this show, because it's my favorite role right now. We really have become such a tight community over at the Richard Rodgers Theater, and we knew from the moment we started in Boston that the work would prove to be true and honest and honor the legacy of the Gershwins. And I'm so thrilled to do this with Audra McDonald. She and I have known each other for so long, but it's the first time we've really worked together. We really trust each other, and I think we can do everything and anything together. Actually, I think we have to be a pair from now on in everything we do."

Judith Light (Other Desert Cities, Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Play)
"I am so thrilled, excited, humbled, and honored to be recognized for the second year in a row. I was away from the theater for a long time, and it's not easy to make your way back. I am so grateful to Jon Robin Baitz for writing this most genius play, and to Joe Mantello, who had the vision to see me in this part where no one else would, and for his kindness and his generosity. And to have my sister be Stockard Channing -- who gets this lucky? But I am so blessed to work with this cast; this is all about the team. I wish everyone would have been nominated. The biggest difference for me this year is that my dad died two weeks ago, at age 98, and I know what this would have meant to him. In fact, I just got back last night from cleaning out his apartment in Florida and I slept until nine, so I missed the announcement."

John Lithgow (The Columnist, Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Play)
"It's an awfully good gang of actors, and I feel very lucky to be included. And because the theater community is so tight-knit, I know everyone in my category, even that youngster, James Corden. I certainly had unbelievable support from David Auburn, for this extremely well-written play and from Dan Sullivan, who directs new material better than anybody. I feel like I had more access to this character than some others I've done -- we're both Harvard guys and I know a lot of people from Joseph Alsop's world. And he has amazing conflicts, which makes the character so great. But I have to say it's extremely exhausting to do this play. I am not as young as I used to be, and there are evenings when I think I can't do it. But the play is an updraft, and it's some of those nights that it just sends me up in the air. And now, I just can't wait to go the party."

Pam MacKinnon (Clybourne Park, Best Direction of a Play)
"It is super-exciting. I knew we were in the mix for the play and other things -- collectively, our work is so strong -- but a nomination for me is just icing on the cake. And I think that it's amazing all four of our original designers and our seven original actors have stayed with us over the past two years and made it to Broadway. I feel like we did it right!"

Kathleen Marshall (Nice Work If You Can Get It, Best Direction of a Musical, Best Choreography)
"The best thing is we got the nomination for Best Musical, and that means everyone on the show is included. My husband, Scott Landis, and I worked on this for several years -- it's something we developed. Scott's also a producer on Venus in Fur, so we're a quadruple nomination household. It's crazy!"

Audra McDonald (The Gershwins' Porgy & Bess, Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical)
"It's never a calm morning in my house. I was up at 6:15 getting my daughter Zoe ready for school, and after I got her off, I had to walk the dog -- they don't care that it's Tony nomination - and by the time I got home, I was tired so I was back in dreamland by the time they announced the nominations. But it was wonderful news to wake up to. It's still exciting and thrilling and humbling. We do theater for the craft and for the art, but it's great to be recognized for the work. I'm not only tickled for everyone at Porgy & Bess, but for so many other people I know: I remember Condola Rashad when she was running around backstage with her mom in A Raisin in the Sun, and Steve Kazee and I did 110 in the Shade, and I've known Celia Keenan-Bolger since she was a student. It will be great to spend the next month seeing so many of my buddies."

NEXT PAGE: Michael McGrath, Cristin Milioti, Kelli O'Hara, Roger Rees, Josh Young and more.
Josh Young
(© Tristan Fuge)
Michael McGrath (Nice Work If You Can Get It, Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical)
"I am very excited and happy, or as we say in Massachusetts where I'm from, wicked pleased. I was a little more nervous this time around. I didn't expect to get one for Spamalot -- I felt on the periphery -- but I knew I was going to be in the mix. So I was up early watching with the nominations on the computer with my daughter, and I was so glad to have Kristin Chenoweth announce my name, since she's a friend. It's been a long road for me with this show -- I did it at Goodspeed 10 years ago -- so it's very satisfying. And it's so great for the entire production to get so many nominations. I am particularly happy for Judy Kaye; she's a great gal -- so funny and hardworking. We're like an old school vaudeville team up there."

Cristin Milioti (Once, Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical)
"I am so overjoyed and grateful. Right now, I feel balls of tears in my chest that's going to hit me sometime soon. I could have never predicted this from our initial reading. It was a year ago today, I think, that we were all getting on a bus to come to New York after our workshop in Cambridge. I can't imagine so much has happened in a year. And I would never have thought I would be nominated for my work in a musical. I've wanted to do them, but they would never have me. So I am going to enjoy every minute of this!"

Jessie Mueller (On A Clear Day You Can See Forever, Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical)
"I didn't watch the nominations, because I wasn't expecting one. I am still completely shocked. I still feel like the new kid on the block, and with the wealth of talent out there and all the shows, I was taken aback. To me, Tony nominations are what happen to other people. Of course, I called my parents right away, and, happily, my boyfriend was with me when I found out. Now, I'm trying to figure out what happens next. Most of all, I am thrilled to have had this opportunity to perform on Broadway in the first place and I am so proud of the show we did and the people I worked with on it, and it's great that my show is going to be celebrated again through this nomination.

Kelli O'Hara (Nice Work If You Can Get It, Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical)
"It never gets old being a Tony nominee; it's as exciting as ever. I didn't get up to watch the nominations, but right after, my husband Greg came in and told me -- after my manager called me 16 times. It's bittersweet that Matthew Broderick, my co-star, was not nominated; he's doing what we need him to. But I'm so excited for all the other nominations for the show. It's making people happy and one of the rare opportunities I've had to make people laugh all the time. This a wonderful, low-stress role for me, and with everything in my life right now, it feels like a real gift."

Da'Vine Joy Randolph (Ghost the Musical, Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical)
"I wasn't expecting it at all. I'm just happy to be employed in a musical on Broadway. I booked this part after one audition, then went to make my debut in London after learning the role in five days, flew back here, and have been going from rehearsals to previews to opening night. I don't even know what I'm supposed to do for the next few weeks; I need a book to tell me. I think I might go across the street to the Richard Rodgers and ask Audra McDonald what to do. No matter what, though, I am going to keep my head on straight, try to stay healthy and present, and remember these next few weeks to the best of my ability."

Condola Rashad (Stick Fly, Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Play)
"I was not expecting this. It's crazy! My best friend called me at 8:30 and I was still in bed, so I figured I'd call him back later. After he called me three times, I finally called him back and he told me. It was a happy surprise. Then I talked to my Dad and almost all of my family, but I haven't been able to find my mom (Phylicia Rashad). I think she's on a plane. I'm super-excited about all this, especially about going shopping for all the clothes."

Roger Rees (Peter and the Starcatcher, Best Direction of a Play)
"Getting nine nominations -- including Best Play -- means so many more people from around the world will want to come. The response has already been tremendous. For me, personally, this means so much. In 1982, I won my Tony for acting in Nicholas Nickleby, so to now be up for Best Director is so thrilling. I thought I'd be in catering by now. Of course, a lot of this has to do with my co-director, Alex Timbers. He is such a dear young man and has done so much with this show."

Jeremy Shamos (Clybourne Park, Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Play)
I hoped for a nomination, but there's an incredible amount of plays out there, so I wasn't counting on it. I forced the kids to turn off their cartoons and watch the announcement at home -- and frankly the kids were a little bored. Then we had a great hug, I ran them to school, and now it's another day of being a dad in Brooklyn -- but with a spring in my step. This is a true ensemble piece, but I feel like I'm nominated for all seven of us, and it's unfair we can't share the award. I wasn't sure it would get to Broadway because of the economics of putting seven non-famous people on Broadway, but once we got there, I knew the play would be nominated."

John Tiffany (Once, Best Direction of a Musical)
"It's fantastic. I am so proud of everyone that our little show got 11 nominations. I am working in Scotland now, getting ready to do Macbeth with Alan Cumming, and I wasn't sure what time the nominations were on, so I found out after they were ever. And I am particulary excited about the nomination for our choreographer, Stephen Hoggett. He and I have been working together since I was 15. I am so grateful to our producers that they let me bring this whole creative team with me."

Josh Young (Jesus Christ Superstar, Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical)
"I'm totally on cloud nine in disbelief. I am so thankful that so many members of the committee came to see me this weekend and took time from their busy schedules to see me if they missed me when I was sick during previews. I had intended to sleep in this morning, and I figured I'd find out later in the day that the show was nominated, and would then go on and give the best performance possible. I even left my phone off on purpose. But then I got up to walk the dog, and then I saw I had a text from my agent saying "Atta boy." But I thought that could mean anything - so I logged on to my Facebook page, and I never had so many messages in my life. I called my mother and we both screamed in joy. It's been a long journey from the Stratford Shakespeare Festival last summer to here, and I really hope these nominations bring more positive attention to the show and to Stratford."

Click here for a full list of 2012 Tony Award nominations.

Click here for more TheaterMania coverage of the Tony Awards.


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