DIVA TALK: Chatting with 2005 Tony Nominees Applegate, Clark, Dilly, Foster, Scott, Gleason and More

News   DIVA TALK: Chatting with 2005 Tony Nominees Applegate, Clark, Dilly, Foster, Scott, Gleason and More
 
News, views and reviews about the multi-talented women of the musical theatre and the concert/cabaret stage.
From Top: Christina Applegate, Victoria Clark, Erin Dilly, Sutton Foster and Sherie Rene Scott
From Top: Christina Applegate, Victoria Clark, Erin Dilly, Sutton Foster and Sherie Rene Scott Photo by Morgan Allen/Aubrey Reuben

The Tony Nominees Press Reception was held this past Tuesday morning at The View on the 48th floor of the Marriott Marquis Hotel. The annual event allows the New York press the chance to interview the various 2005 Tony Award nominees. I was able to very briefly chat with all of the nominees in the Leading Actress and Featured Actress in a Musical categories. All ten women seemed genuinely excited to have received the honor; those interviews follow.

BEST LEADING ACTRESS IN A MUSICAL

CHRISTINA APPLEGATE in Sweet Charity
Question: Where were you when you heard the news about your Tony nomination?
Christina Applegate: I was in bed sleeping.

Q: Did someone call to tell you about the nomination?
Applegate: No, it was really strange. I wasn't going to wake up for the announcements because I figured it wasn't going to happen. But for some reason I woke up at 8:45 and I'm like, "Should I just check?" So, I had my little sidekick next to the bed and I went on-line, and I scrolled down, and luckily my name is with an "A," so it was the top name on the list.

Q: What was your reaction?
Applegate: I went, "Cool," and then I went back to bed because I was half asleep, and then when I woke up at one o'clock I was thrilled. Q: Did you receive a lot of calls yesterday?
Applegate: I did, and you know what, I didn't answer the phone. I took my dog to Central Park and we lay in the grass and slept for two hours. I have a little chihuahua dachshund, and that's what I did.

Q: How does it feel to have finally opened on Broadway? Is the reality of Broadway what you thought it would be?
Applegate: It's so much more because there's so much more to it for this production and this company. For us, it's such a bigger victory, and for [these Tony nominations] to happen, we feel very vindicated actually, we feel really good about it.

Q: Do you feel like it's a real family with this company?
Applegate: Oh, absolutely, that is my family, and I'm going to have a really hard time going back to L.A. [afterwards].

Q: I know on the first night on Broadway, your co-star, Denis O'Hare, gave a really beautiful speech about you . . .
Applegate: Yes, he did, [and] I'm really very, very disappointed and upset that he wasn't acknowledged with a Tony [nomination.] He is unbelievably brilliant. For some reason [he wasn't nominated]. I don't know what happened — there are too many guys around [this season]? I'm very upset about that. He makes me better, so I owe everything that I'm doing on that stage to Denis O'Hare.

Q: Even though it's been an up-and-down experience, does this make you want to do more theatre?
Applegate: One step at a time. [Laughs.] Absolutely, [I want to] do more theatre. I think that doing this is why you become an actor to begin with — to be able to act. And you get to do it every day. . . If we're not creative, we're not okay. Being in the film industry is so difficult because of that — you work for three months and then you don't [work] for a long period of time, and you get so stifled creatively. This is such a wonderful way to keep your spirit going.

Q: How is your foot healing?
Applegate: I'm healing. It's not healed, but I'm healing.

VICTORIA CLARK in The Light in the Piazza
Q: Where were you when you heard the news about the Tony nomination?
Victoria Clark: I was at home watching [TV] live with my ten-year old. He jumped straight up in the air. When I looked down, I was holding him, and his legs were wrapped around my neck. [Laughs.] I have no idea how he got up there because he's tall . . . He hugged me so tight, and I'm bringing him as my escort. What's cuter than a ten-year-old in a tux?

Q: Did you get a lot of calls yesterday?
Clark: Over one-hundred, easily.

Question: Who was the most surprising call?
Clark: Nobody out of the blue, although my high school drama teacher did call me the day the New York Times review came out. That was kind of a surprise. Well, he never cast me in anything. [Laughs.] I was always doing props for him. I was doing the blintzes for You Can't Take it With You. He never really gave me much to do in high school, but he's taking a lot of credit for it now. [Laughs.] I actually learned a lot from him — he was a wonderful teacher.

ERIN DILLY in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
Question: Where were you when you heard the news of the Tony nomination?
Erin Dilly: My puppy was up sick. My Pomeranian woke me up with a bit of retching at 5 AM, so I was downstairs with him into the morning, and then I sort of dragged my husband out of bed at about 8:15, and we sat in front of our computer, our very small computer, which couldn't download each individual category as it was announced. And then my agent called before it was on screen and [we] erupted in excited screams, and then I went to sleep.

Q: Who was the first person you called when you woke up?
Dilly: My mother. She's in Michigan. I called my mom and then I called my dad, who's a high school teacher. I called the school office and had them patch it through to his classroom. It was really fun.

Q: How's the show going? Are you enjoying it?
Dilly: It's spectacular. It's gotten happier and bigger and better since the opening. We're just having a great time.

Q: How long are you contracted with the show?
Dilly: I'll be in it for a year. I'm flying for the next 12 months! [Laughs.]

Q: Are you working on any other projects while you're doing the show?
Dilly: Right now, it's Chitty Chitty everything all the time. I'm working on a Kander and Ebb piece in July. It's a trunk musical that they hadn't produced yet called Curtains. I'm doing that with [director] Scott Ellis.

SUTTON FOSTER in Little Women
Question: Where were you when you heard the news?
Sutton Foster: I was on the couch half asleep. My boyfriend and I dragged ourselves out of bed and lay on the couch and watched. And, we were like, "Ahhhh," and then we went back to sleep.

Q: Was it exciting?
Foster: It was very exciting. It's the Tony Awards! It's the little girl fantasy. It feels amazing to be recognized in this way.

Q: Did you get a lot of calls?
Foster: We did.

Q: Anyone that was a surprise?
Foster: What's always amazing when these type of things happen [and] it becomes very national, you're entire family, extended family, people from all across the country, finally go, "Oh my gosh, she's really doing well and [is] really successful." You get e-mails and letters and calls from past friends from another lifetime, high school friends. So that's really exciting.

Q: How strenuous is performing Little Women compared to performing in Thoroughly Modern Millie?
Foster: Millie was very difficult, but this is also equally difficult. It's a ten-person cast, it's not a mega-musical, so it's a little bit of a different experience — it's not like that huge musical comedy feel. It's been amazing; it's a beautiful story. I really love the show, and I feel I'm representing the Little Women [today].

Q: How long will you stay with the show?
Foster: I'm contracted through December.

Q: Are you able to do any other workshops or projects during the run? Foster: Not really, it's very hard. I've had to say no to a lot of things. It's been really difficult because I really want to be able to do more, but it's hard when I'm working so hard [in Little Women].

SHERIE RENE SCOTT in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels
Question: Where were you when you heard the news?
Sherie Rene Scott: It was one of my few mornings to sleep in because my mom came in town to watch my new baby [Eli], so my husband and my mom had woken with my baby, and I was trying to sleep in. I had an eye mask on and earplugs! So they woke me up and said, "Congratulations." And I said, "That's great. Can I sleep in some more?" because it's my only morning to sleep in. [Laughs.] It was kind of anticlimactic — all I was thinking about was what to give the baby for breakfast.

Q: How old is the baby?
Scott: One year.

Q: How has it been combining working and motherhood?
Scott: It's great now. I think I went back to work really early, especially considering I was doing a new musical and singing and dancing, so that was like two months [after he was born]. He was two months old, and we shipped out to San Diego [for the out-of-town tryout]. Once this is over with, I'll just have a normal eight-show-week schedule. I'm looking forward to having this time with him. Luckily, my mom came from Kansas, and she's helping me out with him, so I don't have horrible mommy guilt every time I'm away from him. I love him so so much, and my husband and I are just over the moon. We just miss him when we're not with him. I wish he could be with me everywhere.

Q: How long are you contracted with the show?
Scott: A year.

Q: Are you able to do any other workshops or projects while you're in Scoundrels?
Scott: I hope not. [Laughs.] It's always hard as an actor because when you're working, [that is] when you have to hustle for your next job. Strike while the iron's hot, but I would just like to do this job. I love doing it. I'm just now getting used to doing eight shows a week and learning how to do it. . . . It's singing and running around, but I find being a mom gives me more energy. I actually have more energy now than before I had my son. I'd like to just do [the show] for a few months and not audition and do other things.

*

BEST FEATURED ACTRESS IN A MUSICAL

JOANNA GLEASON in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels
Question: Where were you when you heard the news?
Joanna Gleason: Just standing up in bed. Then they said my name, and I jumped a little.

Q: How is the show going?
Gleason: Beautifully. Audiences are on their feet. They're loving it. They come back and say the most wonderful things, and they come back to see the show again.

Q: How long are you contracted with the show?
Gleason: Through next February.

CELIA KEENAN-BOLGER in The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee
Question: Where were you when you heard the news?
Celia Keenan-Bolger: I was at my boyfriend's. I hadn't woken up. I hadn't set an alarm or anything, and then I got a call, actually from the director of The Light in the Piazza, Bart Sher. He was the one who delivered the news. I had no expectations, my phone wasn't even on, but he got through.

Question: Did you get a lot of calls yesterday?
Keenan-Bolger: I did. I feel like when I have my first child, I won't have as many phone calls as I did yesterday. [Laughs.]

Q: Anyone you were especially surprised to hear from?
Keenan-Bolger: People come out of the woodwork, I will tell you. Certainly people I graduated with at University of Michigan, who I haven't really talked to since I graduated, who had my number, childhood friends. It was fantastic!

Q: How is it performing in Spelling Bee every night?
Keenan-Bolger: It's unbelievable. It's the best show to be in — ever. First of all, it changes everyday because we have the audience volunteers, and it's an unbelievable company, so there's a lot of support and good spirit.

Q: I had seen Spelling Bee Off-Broadway and then saw it again Friday night, and I think it works even better on Broadway at Circle in the Square.
Keenan-Bolger: That's great. A lot of people have said that, and it's very comforting because I think when you move, there's always that anxiety of "Have we taken something very important of the piece away?"

Q: How did you get involved with the show originally?
Keenan-Bolger: I knew one of [composer] Bill Finn's students. Bill teaches at NYU, and one of his students won a big award, and her musical got to be produced after she graduated . . . I did her show, and Bill, because he was her mentor, came and saw it, and he said, "You have to come be in the Spelling Bee." I was always in the periphery, and they did a workshop that I wasn't part of, but then it happened again, and I was able to do it. He called me up and said, "Come in, meet all the creative staff," and here I am. Q: And you also get to sing the best song.
Keenan-Bolger: I do get the best song! [Laughs.] He actually wrote ["The I Love You Song"] for Lisa [Howard] and Derrick [Baskin] and I, so to know that Bill Finn has had your voice in his head is an honor.

Q: How long will you stay with the show?
Keenan-Bolger: Well, we're all contracted for a year, so I will definitely be there for a year, provided that we run for a year. [Laughs.]

Q: Are you able to work on any other workshops or projects?
Keenan-Bolger: It's funny, but I just did a reading of The Three Sisters at Lincoln Center on Tuesday with Michael Stuhlbarg. Jessica Hecht and Judy Kuhn and Mark Harelik [were also in the reading]. The shifting from Spelling Bee to Chekhov is a little rattling, but it was an amazing day.

JAN MAXWELL in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
Question: Where were you when you heard the news?
Jan Maxwell: Well, I had just gotten my son off to school. My husband called and said, "You know, I think the Tony nominations are going to be on TV." So I turned on the TV, and then, of course, being from North Dakota, I thought there was a mistake, so I had to go on-line and see it in print before I really believed it. [Laughs.] It's very exciting and very much an honor.

Q: Who did you call first or who called you first?
Maxwell: Really, I sat there stunned, and then as life does, I had to go to the dentist. So it's kind of like a pat on the head and a sock in the stomach. [Laughs.] "Oh, now, I've got to go finish a root canal." It seems almost poetic justice. I'm such a cynic, I'm thinking, "Well, the other shoe has to drop. It can't all be good." [Laughs.]

Q: You and Marc Kudisch are so great in the show. Are you enjoying it?
Maxwell: Oh, thanks. We are. We're having a blast. It's just so much fun to come on and destroy all the cotton candy that's going on.

Q: How long will you be staying with the show?
Maxwell: I think I'm done in March.

KELLI O'HARA in The Light in the Piazza
Question: Where were you when you heard the news?
Kelli O'Hara: I was up in Esopus New York near New Paltz. My boyfriend, Greg Naughton's house, is up there. It was beautiful, and it couldn't have been more a perfect situation.

Q: Did you hear the news on TV?
O'Hara: No, actually, we don't have a television up there. It's a cabin. I woke up, and the phone didn't ring or anything, so I went to the computer, and the minute I was logging on, my agent called.

Q: Did you get a lot of calls?
O'Hara: Oh my God, all day, and the phone's still ringing in my jacket.

Q: Anyone surprising?
O'Hara: I heard from lots of old friends. It was mostly the people that are involved in the show. Wonderful calls.

Q: Are you enjoying working on the show?
O'Hara: I think the enjoyment comes from how challenging it is. It's the most challenging thing I've ever done. Had you asked me a couple of weeks ago, I wouldn't have said I was having much fun yet, but I have started having a lot of fun. Now that we're starting to get a rhythm and understand what it is that we're doing.

Q: And, for Broadway, you got bumped up into a larger role.
O'Hara: I did. I was playing Franca, the sister-in-law, and now I'm playing Clara.

Q: How has it been playing a different character within the same show?
O'Hara: Well, I was playing an Italian with an Italian accent and dark hair, and now I'm playing a blonde-headed young Southern girl, so it's amazingly different and wonderful to do both [roles] — to be stretched that way.

Q: And, you and Victoria Clark really seem to have that mother daughter bond, which translates to the audience.
O'Hara: We've been doing the show together, and that helped. We already knew each other very well. And she was very generous. She let me in, she nurtured me, and I very much felt the part, and it's worked out wonderfully.

Q: How long will you stay with the show?
O'Hara: As long as they'll let me I think. [Laughs.] We're extended through September, and I'll be there through then.

Q: Are you able to do any other workshops while you're doing this?
O'Hara: Yes, I actually am doing a couple of things and looking into a couple different things. I'm hoping to do as much as I can, but this is a very challenging and rigorous show for eight shows a week, singing-wise, so I think I'm going to be mostly dedicated to the show, at least through September.

SARA RAMIREZ in Spamalot
Question: Where were you when you heard the news?
Sara Ramirez: Asleep!

Q: Did someone call to tell you . . .
Ramirez: Yeah, I had about 19 missed calls. Sleep is really important to me right now. Actually, the first message I got was from [my co star] Chris Sieber.

Q: When do you think you knew that Spamalot was going to be a hit?
Ramirez: Well, I don't want to sound presumptuous, but in rehearsals I felt — I don't know if it was a hit — but I definitely knew it was something special, something different.

Q: Did the creators add to your role during rehearsals?
Ramirez: Well, it was supposed to be two different women, two different female roles, and then they combined it all. And, then they cut that female role anyway, everything that she would have done they cut in Chicago. So, it went back to what I was originally cast as.

Q: Are you able to work on any other projects while you're in the show?
Ramirez: No, the show is exhausting, and I'm physically not able to do anything else, in terms of singing and workshops.

Congratulations to all of the 2005 nominees! For a complete list of the 59th Annual Tony Award nominees, visit Click Here.

Well, that's all for now. Happy diva-watching! E-mail questions or comments to agans@playbill.com.

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