We are happy to welcome guest celebrity blogger Stephen Kunken, a 2010 Tony nominee for his performance in the recent drama Enron. Kunken, who has also been seen on Broadway in Rock 'n' Roll, Frost/Nixon, Festen and Proof, will blog for Playbill.com all week; his fourth entry follows:
Dearest blog readers,
It has been my joy to be able to wax prosaic this week, and I want to thank anyone reading and to the folks at Playbill for providing an outlet. Today is my last blog, and I thought I'd devote it to yesterday's Tony nominee lunch at the Plaza Hotel.
"THE P-L-A-Z-A. Walking into this venerable NY landmark wih a purpose, other than to sneak into a bathroom when walking home from Central Park, is an adrenaline rush. It's a glorious building and the renovations truly bring back the lustre of glory and elegance. It doesn't hurt that it is a perfect sunny spring day and that the media is flashing away on the sunlit steps. It's a New York-meets-Cannes kind of moment, and it just adds to the morning's thrill.
Telling this former Long Island kid that he'd be lunching at The Plaza to celebrate his Tony nomination is akin to telling your more "normal" folk that they'd get to fly to the moon or play in the Superbowl. I grew up in the Shadow of Broadway. I went to Juilliard. I am a creature of the theater and this is Theater's coronation.
In a business fraught with ups and downs, it's a stratospheric up. You can read that same pride on every face. Be it a first timer like me or a grande dame like Angela Lansbury, it's a similar beam emenating. After signing-in at the Edwardian room (say it in your most upper crust accent...that's right...the Edd-whaa-dee-an room), we head out en-masse for the 2010 Tony class photo.
When you add in every category of performer, designer, producers, theater artistic directors...it gets to be a big group. We head out onto the steps and begin the line-up. It starts as a free for all, but ends within a few minutes in a vey nice stage picture. This whole thing happens organically, no one shouting direction or moving people about. I'd like to see any other demographic of people get themselves that quickly into proper form.
I'm also blown away by how quickly the migration separates out into respective herds. The preeny lion actors find themselves together, dead center in frame. They are flanked by the herd of lean gazelle-ish designers and spirited cheetah writers, and surrounding us all are the big elephant producers. It's the whole theater ecosphere working in seamless harmony. Take a look at the photo someday and remember that there was no direction to that configuration. Awesome.
After the shoot the ecosphere dissolves back into random migration and makes its way up to the ballroom for lunch. There is a lovely cocktail portion...and one of the perks about not having a show that night is I can actually have a nip. It's a great time to catch up and meet new folks.
The Plaza xylophonist rings the chimes (very Titanic), and we all make our way into the ballroom for the presentation and lunch. Douglas Carter Beane makes a hilarious speech, which spells out the nominee handbook. He warns us all that we'll be in HD..."so go easy on the make-up." He warns that if we start thanking our agents from "CAA," everyone will know our age by the paticular agent thanked. It's a very funny speech that actually is chock full of good advice. I think the tone from both this speech and the CBS Tony show producers is to "speak from the heart" if you are lucky enough to get the nod. They warn that they'll cut you off as soon as you start naming the laundry list of your team. I have to hand it to CBS, they seem to really want to show Broadway off and to do us proud.
I was seated at a fabulous table sandwiched betwixt Christiane Noll, Tom Kitt and producers abound. Christine Ebersole was the MC for the day and introduced each nominee one by one. When your name was called, you stood and were presented with a nominee framed certificate. Wow! I mean really, WOW! Montego, Chad, Denzel, Viola, Christopher, Angela, and eventually...Stephen. Okay...it was Stephen McKinley Henderson...but then Stephen Kunken. I'm looking at the frame right now and I think...WOW!!! I'm connected to a string of pearls that define my craft and have inspired me every single day. Thank you Tony nominators, it's an honor that I know will inspire me and one that I will try to live up to from this day forward.
That's it, folks. Again I thank you all for reading, and now I'm off to play "CSI" and determine which pug just did a "very bad thing" in our vestibule.