You've got to give Ryan Heffernan credit for chutzpah.
The 13-year-old from New York's Staten Island is a self-proclaimed "huge fan" of Rosie O'Donnell. And he wanted to go to the Tonys. So he got out an envelope and stamp and wrote to the host of the June 1 Tony program that if she didn't have a date, he'd be thrilled to have the honor.
Cut to O'Donnell's popular daytime talk show, May 5, where she read the letter aloud. On national TV O'Donnell responded with, "Ryan, you're on, buddy."
Before, O'Donnell responded on TV, she called Heffernan to accept the invitation personally. When Heffernan heard it was O'Donnell on the phone he said, "my mouth was 'O' shaped."
In preparation for the biggest night of the year for the theatre industry Heffernan has rented a tux, found a gift for his date (a box of Ring Dings), and even signed a few autographs. This new-found stardom has not changed Heffernan's future aspirations to become a professional actor, he said. Currently, he is gaining experience at the Statten Island Children's Theatre. In April he was in Bye Bye Birdie there, and in July he will perform in a musical revue. Eventually, Heffernan said, he would like to play Fritz in The Sound of Music.
On Tony night, a car provided by "The Rosie O'Donnell Show" will pick up Heffernan and his mother -- whom Heffernan says is "a little bit more excited than I am". Then they will pick up O'Donnell and head off to Radio City Music Hall for the 51st annual Tony Awards. Heffernan will also be escorting O'Donnell to a Tony party, though he said May 29 he had not yet been informed which party they will be attending.
As far as Ryans bedtime is concerned, his parents have agreed to extend it by five hours or so for the special occasion.
-- By Honey Freilich