High Flying Adored: Immediate Reactions from the 2007 Tony Nominees

News   High Flying Adored: Immediate Reactions from the 2007 Tony Nominees The Tony nominations were announced at 8:45 AM ET on May 15, and by 8:50 AM, Playbill.com was on the phone interviewing the nominated actors, composers and playwrights. Highlights from many of these conversations follow.
Justin Bond in Kiki & Herb
Justin Bond in Kiki & Herb Photo by Carol Rosegg

Justin Bond, co-creator and performer of Kiki and Herb Alive on Broadway, nominated for Best Special Theatrical Event

"I'm over the moon! I knew we had been declared eligible for the category, but they don't do it every year. I wasn't sure if it would even be an option. So, I'm delighted. I was watching NY1. I immediately texted [co-star] Kenny [Mellman]. And I thought 'Who am I gonna take and what am I gonna wear?' I'll be going as myself that night, not Kiki. We're not doing a show that night."

Christian Borle, nominated for Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Musical for Legally Blonde

"I'm almost floating. It feels good, a little disorienting. I was sitting on the couch watching NY1 like any responsible person would. It was immediately after Jane Krakowski had made many jokes about Brooks [Ashmanskas'] name. I'm told I shouted, 'Yay,' and I gave Sutton [Foster] a high five. I've watched the announcement for I'd say four of the five past years. I must confess, here in this biz, you're curious over how the Tonys will go down. It's nice to know I'll never have to go back to never having been a Tony nominee. I think I'll get some food in me, then I'll get back to earth."

Michael Cerveris, nominated for Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical for LoveMusik

"As my traditional routine goes, I slept through the morning till just about noon, which is later than usual for me. I woke up to a full answering machine and text messages with congrats about the nomination. Not a bad way to start the day. I figure that if there's anything I need to know, I'll find out when I wake up. I think I was a little more tired last year. I had been at Sweeney since the November before. We're still in the early days of this. Still, I'm finding LoveMusik just as hard, only in different ways. Last year, it was thrilling to be acknowledged for reinventing a role that was so indelibly originated by Len [Cariou], who is one of my heroes. This year, it's a thrill for getting to create something that hasn't ever been seen before."

John Cullum, nominated for Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Musical for 110 in the Shade

"Well, I was delighted. I feel our show deserves the attention. I'm delightful and flattered that I should be a part of it. It's a thrill to be nominated for a Tony. This is no exception. We had four, didn't we? This is my fifth nomination, I think. Got a call from my manager. I was having breakfast. Then I got a call from one of my agents. Then I got a call from the press agent and then I got a call from another agent and then I got a call from the publicist people. Then I got a call from a CA agent. I've never had so many people excited about a nomination before."

Christine Ebersole in Grey Gardens
photo by Joan Marcus

Christine Ebersole, nominated for Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical for Grey Gardens

"It's so thrilling — we got ten nominations. This is like the Big Kahuna. I was walking the kids to school. My husband and I were on our way home, and then my neighbor Bob said, 'You've been nominated.' I was like 'Oh, my God.' I had totally forgotten today was the nominations. Then I said to Bob, 'You're gonna be mentioned when I talk about this.' A year ago, we were getting on board the train to get the show to the next step. It was really a labor of love to get the show to Broadway."

Jennifer Ehle, nominated for Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Play for The Coast of Utopia

"We were driving home from upstate, and I suddenly got two emails on my Blackberry with people saying congratulations. Then enough came through that I realized exactly what was going on. I don't remember exactly what I said. I was with my family. Told my husband, 'I've been nominated for a Tony!' I wrote back asking for who else. It's so exciting there's so many of us from the cast — only an idiot would ever think it would happen. That would be a ridiculous way to live, expecting anything like this to happen. I think I'm in a state of shock. I don't think I'm making much sense. But I'm in a state of shock anyway 'cause we just closed [although] it feels like the show hasn't closed yet. I know I'm going to be seeing a lot of people over the next month and we'll still be celebrating. It's extraordinary [that the show] was even put on at all. It's such a thrill. It's lovely. You get to go to the ball."

Raul Esparza, nominated for Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical for Company

"Basically, I was trying to be cool, but I couldn't stay asleep. So I woke up at 7. I decided to catalogue my old cassette tapes. I had this great old one that I thought would make a great play list on my iPOD. I was going through my 80's music, [and] then I heard my name. I said 'Oh, wow.' It wasn't till a few hours later that I did a little dance of joy, but it took a few hours. A little celebrating. First time I was nominated, it was completely surreal 'cause I was no longer in that show. It felt like someone had kind of given me this nice prize, but the show had happened a long time ago. In theatre terms, when I'm at the street outside the stage door, I forget my lines. It felt like it happened years ago. So, it was nice that the last thing we were left with on Taboo was the nominations. Now, I'm still doing the show. I wonder what tonight will feel like. I love the weeks before the Tonys when you've been nominated. There's a wonderful sense of family. It's like surfing. It's being part of a club."

Boyd Gaines, nominated for Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Play for Journey's End

"My wife got up very early to get my daughter ready for school. And then I got her off and went back to sleep. Then my wife woke me up and told me. She told me all the ones for the show. It was just really great for the show. That's what we're concerned most about. After, I fell back into a heavy slumber. It never gets old. I so did not expect it. I was really completely shocked. I really thought that the field was just too crowded. So many fantastic actors, from my own show included."

John Gallagher Jr., nominated for Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Musical for Spring Awakening

"I'm a little overwhelmed in the best possible way. In this day and age, you just prepare yourself for good news or bad news. It can go any way in this biz, as you know. I personally had not been thinking about it for a long time. It's unreal, and I'm kind of pinching myself. I got up and watched the announcement, which is kind of an interesting feat for me 'cause I'm not much of a morning person, now more than ever because of the Spring Awakening schedule. It was strange and surreal to hear the nominations. My roommate and his girlfriend were in his room, and I heard applause. It's hard to find the appropriate words to say in response to such news. Everyone in our Spring Awakening mass email group has been saying what a dream come true this is four us."

Frost/Nixon director Michael Grandage
photo by Aubrey Reuben

Michael Grandage, nominated for Best Direction of a Play for Frost/Nixon

"I found out because a number of friends rang last night to tell me to watch TV this morning on NY1. It was an eye opener to watch it carried live. We don't do any of that in England. It's much better here in the way they use this stuff as strong marketing tools. It's much more of a business. We don't even televise award ceremonies. I've never seen anything like that before. They did pronounce my name right. There was a little hesitation at first, but they went straight for it. It wasn't expected. I was slightly numb for a few seconds. Very happy to answer a number of calls that came in, thrilled that that the play got a nomination, and Frank's nomination, which I expected. Well, not expected, but hoped for. Rob Ashford called me, who was nominated for his choreography. We talked about the fact that Jane Krakowski read the names, and we worked with her on Guys and Dolls."

Jonathan Groff, nominated for Best Performance by a Lead Actor in a Musical for Spring Awakening

"My brother is spending the next couple of days in my apartment. So he, my roommate and I woke up and sat on the futon and waited to hear. It's actually the first time I've been up at 8:30 for a while. It was very exciting to hear Jane Krakowski say my name. I grabbed my roommate and brother, and we started shaking each other and crying a little bit. My category came on early, and I was sort of in a state of shock. When they said [co-star] John Gallagher's name, I freaked out. When they said [scenic designer] Christine Jones' name, I freaked out. Kind of went uphill. I'm a little bit numb and still shaking. Lauren [Pritchard] called me at like 8:35, and she's like, 'We're such idiots. I can't believe we're all awake and waiting in front of our TVs.' We're flying high right now. It's pretty thrilling!"

Heather Hach, nominated for Best Book of a Musical for Legally Blonde

"I'm in L.A. I was listening to the NY1 podcast. So, I woke up my husband sobbing, screaming, 'I got it.' It was about 5:30 here in the morning. It's just overwhelming. The Tonys! The Tony nominations! I kept looking this up online. I've been texting Laura Bell [Bundy] like mad. I was crying for her. I'm texting Larry [O'Keefe] now. When I heard Curtains was nominated, I thought I wouldn't be. I said out loud, 'Not gonna happen.' Then they said my name. It was a thrill to hear my mispronounced name. Everyone says Hatch. It's pronounced Hock, like Bock with an h, but I'm thrilled to have a mispronounced name!"

John Earl Jelks
photo by Aubrey Reuben

John Earl Jelks, nominated for Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Play for Radio Golf

"It was when Ruben Santiago-Hudson called that it became reality for me. We cried a bit 'cause it's been a long journey. It was a total surprise. It still hasn't sunk in yet. I can't believe it. I had to look at my name four or five times. I don't have words to explain how overjoyed I am. You don't think you'll get there for the most part, but you're hopeful. I always said that I would go to the Tonys one day, even if I had to buy a ticket and clap for everyone else. And now, I'm just on top of the world. I haven't felt like this since I got married."

Jay Johnson, creator and performer of Jay Johnson: The Two and Only, which was nominated for Best Special Theatrical Event

"My director called me at 8:30. I had trouble sleeping the night before, I was having a nightmare. Now I couldn't be happier. I guess I'm the only ventriloquist to ever receive a Tony nomination. It's just something not in my genre. Broadway was the answer to our dream. You know, I misunderstood the category. They said it was a two-person category, but because of my puppets, I thought they meant a two-character play. Speaking of which, my puppets were hoping for a nomination for Best Supported Actor. But I don't think there was one."

Michael Korie, nominated for Best Original Score for his lyrics to Grey Gardens

"I'm fine. I'm in Utah. I had signed off for the email on the Tony Award website, but I didn't have to wait. Then it went online. I'm on Central Mountain time. It's great. I'm just so delighted. Everyone was nominated, the costumes, the scenery, and our wonderful leading lady. I wish I would have said 'da-da-da-da-da.' I actually said 'Yay!' I'm out here doing an opera based on The Grapes of Wrath with Ricky Ian Gordon. I was reading the reviews for that, which are pretty good, and then the calls came in for this. I'm just delighted. You workshop shows through the process and this one really took off."

Swoosie Kurtz, nominated for Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Play for Heartbreak House

"I'm in L.A. My agent called me at like 7:30 here. It's an hour I don't usually see. I did a pilot for ABC, and it just got picked up. But this makes it a really great great — it's a double whammy. I'd think people would forget about the show, but they didn't, which is nice. It was just something that I thought was going to be a good exercise for me initially, but it wasn't. At first I didn't get the play. Then we got it in front of an audience, and I realized how great it was. I saw the light. It was just the most incredible group of people that they got together. I haven't spoken with my mom yet. I want to wait and see how she finds out."

Gavin Lee in Mary Poppins
photo by Joan Marcus

Gavin Lee, nominated for Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical for Mary Poppins

"I'm absolutely fantastic obviously. I'm over the moon. I was still in bed because I had a rotten night's sleep. We recorded the announcements on the TV, but then my publicist Rick called. So then we watched the whole thing on TV. I found out about ten to nine. I said, 'Oh, fantastic,' which I say a lot. I could have said a more British word. Then I had a few phone calls from people at Mary Poppins. Then I had a voice lesson, now I'm talking and celebrating. Of course, it's a surprise. You can believe all the hype, but on the other hand, just looking at the other awards, there's such a variety of different people. It's not always the same group of people. It's all up for grabs, and you can't guarantee anything. I was really one of the lucky ones. The Olivier Awards are such a small, quiet affair compared to here. I'll go wherever I need to go and shake whomever's hand I need to."

Rebecca Luker, nominated for Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Musical for Mary Poppins

"I think the first thing I said when I found out was, 'Oh, I'll have to find something to wear,' and my husband laughed. I'm up in the Poconos at my lake house. I didn't have NY1 or anything. I thought if no one calls by 9, I didn't get it. Of course, my friend called at 8:45 or so. This is my third nomination. I was absolutely prepared not to get one. When I did, it was lovely. I wish [co-star] Dan Jenkins was along for the ride. And [co-star] Ashley Brown. That makes me sad. She truly deserved one, but we're well represented. And, we'll get to do a number on the Tonys."

Jan Maxwell, nominated for Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Play for Coram Boy

"I said, 'My God.' I was watching NY1 because I wanted to see if we would get a Best Play nomination, but I was actually quite shocked when my name came up. I was just sort of amazed. I felt the part was just not prominent enough to be noted. It's different because when I was nominated for Chitty, it was a musical. And, it's been such a wonderful experience. [Director] Melly [Still] is such an artistic person. And to work with Bill Camp, who's such a wonderful, wonderful actor. It's a beautiful experience. I'm in rehearsal right now for Cry Baby, so I only really had enough time to see the nominations and then go there."

Michael Mayer, nominated for Best Direction of a Musical for Spring Awakening

"I'm pretty much on Cloud 9 right now. Or, you may say, Cloud 11. I'm so happy. It's just so unbelievable. 'Not even a little bit,' as the song goes. A year ago, right now, I was working so hard to get the show where I wanted it to be. I will tell you this honestly, my deepest wish was we'd do well enough so we could extend a week or two. I thought, 'Oh, let it work well enough so it can have a tiny bit of a longer life.' That was really it. I was at home when I found out, as I am now. I had trouble sleeping last night, so I woke up at 8:30 and ran over to the TV thinking I missed out, or that the news isn't so good 'cause no one's called me yet. When they said Christine [Jones'] name, my set designer, I literally burst into tears — because all three of my designers got nominated and I've never had that happen before. In my previous ten Broadway shows, I never had all my design team recognized. I think only a director can appreciate how incredibly satisfying that is."

Audra McDonald in 110 in the Shade
photo by Joan Marcus

Audra McDonald, nominated for Best Performance by Leading Actress in a Musical for 110 in the Shade

"I'm in Westchester. I had just returned from dropping my daughter off and there was a message on my phone from my manager. I just said, 'Well, what do you know' to my husband, and he threw his hands up in the air. This year's really hard for me. One of the first phone calls was always from my dad, so that's the difference. Other than that, the reactions are all the same. I'm very happy and honored and thrilled. John Cullum wouldn't know unless someone's woken him up. I'm thrilled that the show got nominated, so happy to be doing it. Such a joy to do."

Peter Morgan, Playwright of Best Play nominee Frost/Nixon

"I'm flabbergasted, completed bowled over to be nominated for a Tony. I don't know. I'm pretty speechless. I know the people we were up against — these are people whose plays I've watched for years and years. Just thrilled that people have taken Frost/Nixon into their hearts in the way they have."

Debra Monk, nominated for Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical for Curtains

"I always just kind of forget they're coming out. I was asleep, and then my agent called me at 9. I was pleasantly surprised. I'm thrilled that our show did great. We're all so excited, especially for our incredible director Scott [Ellis]. Without him, the show wouldn't even be here. In this category, all my dear friends who I've worked with are nominated. It's a big category. I didn't think I'd get a nomination because there are only so many slots."

Orfeh, nominated for Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Musical for Legally Blonde

"[Husband and co-star] Andy [Karl] made me watch the telecast live. I heard it live as it was happening. Last time was many years ago, and it didn't work out the way I would have liked, so it was a difficult feat of bravery. But it was nice to hear my name. I think I just fell over on the floor and starting pounding, going 'Yes! Yes!' like a football player. Haven't gotten a chance to speak with anyone else from the cast, but we're all playing phone tag. It was a huge, huge surprise. If anything, I was really nervous because of the other two nominations. They could have said, 'Well, she has the other two, so let's give the nom. to someone else.'"

David Hyde Pierce in Curtains
photo by Joan Marcus

David Hyde Pierce, nominated for Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical for Curtains

"I found out from Matt Ross, our publicist. He left a message on my phone. I had to go to Washington yesterday on my day off, and I was flying back this morning. I found out as I was walking through the parking lot of LaGuardia. I was really happy, and then I was thrilled that the show got the nomination, then that Debra Monk got nominated. That really put me over the moon. There were so many incredible performances this year, I was just really, really pleased that she made it in there. Then I didn't find out the rest of the nominations till I got home. With awards, whether you get them or not, it's not the ultimate word on whether a show is worth seeing, but when you get this many nominations, it's such a nice validation, especially considering the work Freddie [Ebb], John [Kander] and Scott [Ellis] and Rupert [Holmes] have done keeping the show going in its many incarnations."

David Pittu, nominated for Best Performance by a Featured Actor Musical for LoveMusik

"I'm enormously flattered and very proud. I love our show and the work being done in it. I think Michael [Cerveris] and Donna [Murphy] are amazing, and I'm glad they had a little room on the list for me. My friend Jackie was the first person to call me at about 9. After that, one after the other. I didn't even know you could watch the awards on TV, but I've been catching a bit here and there on NY1. Can't say I don't feel like I didn't earn it. I did four Broadway shows this year. Coast of Utopia makes three, plus LoveMusik. Loved every minute of it. This is a nice bit of icing."

Stark Sands, nominated for a Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Play for Journey's End

"I usually don't get up till 9, but I got the tea out at 8:15, realized what time it was, and put on the TV. It was quite a surprise to hear my name. I was sitting in my boxers alone in my apartment. I almost didn't watch them. Didn't think I'd be considered. At first, I said, 'What?' out loud. I thought Jane Krakowski was joking. I did a film with her. My gut instinct was that she was kidding. But, you know, it was nice to have my friend say my name. I called Boyd [Gaines], but his phone is turned off. He does that the day the reviews come out and when the nominations come out. I'm glad I won't be doing this by myself."

Stephen Sater, nominated for Best Book of a Musical and Best Original Score for Spring Awakening

"I was at home. And my cell phone, which is always on vibrate, had 100 messages. I guess I received two nominations for the show. Six years ago, I remember telling Michael Mayer, who had been repeatedly nominated, that he'd win for Spring Awakening. There were three or four years when our show was effectively dead in the water. We couldn't get anyone to put it on. So with the success of the show now, it's just pretty remarkable. I sent a text message to Lea Michele, who's been with the show for seven years, and said that she's the heart and soul of Spring Awakening. I guess that was my first action. I need to call Duncan [Sheik]."

Coram Boy director/designer Melly Still
photo by Aubrey Reuben

Melly Still, nominated for Best Direction of a Play for Coram Boy, as well as Costume Design and Scenic Design of a Play.

"Where was I? I was walking into a meeting about a future project. Then I got a tingly tummy because I knew the Tonys were about to be announced. It was about two o'clock in the afternoon here. Then I found out from a friend, then looked it up online. I got excited. In London, you can get kind of remote from New York and had thought it'd be best not to expect too much. But I knew it was important for the show to get recognition, for more people to see it and for it to stay open as long as possible. I don't know if there was any impact between press and Tony noms. You don't know what people are thinking and working. Even us getting Olivier Awards was a nice surprise. I've gotten lovely emails from members of the cast."

Julie White, nominated for Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Play for The Little Dog Laughed

"I found out at 5:45 here. I'm in L.A. This is the first time I've actually opened a show on Broadway. I'm an Off-Broadway baby. I feel like I've been in the minors and pulled up to the majors. My daughter is home from USC, so there's a lot of laundry around the house. She's doing an internship over the summer in New York. So I called out, 'Alex, you're going to the Tonys.' She just kind of whooped and hollered. I got nominated with such extraordinarily distinguished ladies. It's like of like, wow, you immediately flash back to when you started doing this and you hoped for something like this. It's sort of one of those life moments. I should remember this."