The Hip-Hooray and Ballyhoo! Tony Nominees Offer Their Reactions to Being Honored

The Hip-Hooray and Ballyhoo! Tony Nominees Offer Their Reactions to Being Honored The Tony Award nominations for the 2009-10 Broadway season were announced in the early hours of May 4. Playbill.com talked to some of the honored to get their reactions.
Kate Baldwin
Kate Baldwin

Kate Baldwin‚ Leading Actress in a Musical, Finian's Rainbow: For some reason, I was a little groggy this morning and I didn't hear my alarm. So when I got out of bed, I just headed straight to the shower, because I've got to be at rehearsal in, like, 45 minutes. So I went straight to the shower and thought, "Oh, they probably don't start on time, anyway." So I was getting out of the shower, and [my husband, Graham Rowat] just rounded the corner and very quietly pointed at me and said, "You got one." [AUDIO-LEFT]It was very sweet. It makes me really happy that people remember our show — that they remember the sweet show that was Finian's Rainbow. And even though our time was brief, to be honored with being remembered is so sweet, and it just makes me think that people are paying attention. It just really warms my heart.

Rosemary Harris, Featured Actress in a Play, The Royal Family (through a spokesperson): I'm thrilled to bits and so delighted for [fellow nominees] Jan, Cathy, John Lee and the entire 'Royal Family.' At the same time, I'm deeply saddened by the death of Lynn Redgrave. We've been friends since working together in the Royal National Theatre's inaugural production of Hamlet in 1963. My heart goes out to her family.

Christopher Ashley, Direction of a Musical, Memphis: I shouted out when we got a nom [AUDIO-LEFT2]for Best Musical, and it kept getting kinda better from there. We did great. It's such a beautiful feeling of being recognized. It makes you cheer up a bit, actually. You know, these musicals take so long [laughs] to get to opening night. You have these, like, multi-year journeys, so actually having a group of people say, "We think you did a good job," is just tremendously meaningful.

Viola Davis, Leading Actress in a Play, Fences (through a spokesperson): I am so happy to be back "home" again on stage, in this play, with these actors and to be recognized is icing on the cake! I am very, very grateful!

Montego Glover

Montego Glover, Leading Actress in a Musical, Memphis: It was thrilling. I was like, "Oh my gosh, oh my gosh, really? That's great! That's great!" It's so exciting. I mean, you know? The Tonys represent such excellence in the theatre and so to be included…for my work and the piece that I'm working on. [AUDIO-LEFT3]To be included in these nominations is just tremendous. Tremendous! It's a huge honor. Robin De Jesús, Featured Actor in a Musical, La Cage aux Folles: I was sitting on my couch and just watching it on the computer, because apparently you couldn't watch it anywhere else [because of breaking news about the Times Square terrorism suspect]. But I'm glad that that's the reason that it wasn't on TV. And I started screaming. It was kinda crazy and kind of — I don't know if this sounds really arrogant, but it was a bit of a relief, I guess, because so many friends were saying things to me, and you can't help [AUDIO-LEFT4]but, when people say things to you like, "You're gonna get nominated for this," you try to block it but there's a part of it that does stick with you, and you hope. And so you get excited and you don't know what it's gonna be like if you're not nominated and you have to see those people again [laughs] and are you gonna make it awkward or are they gonna make it awkward or, you know what I mean? And you have to deal with your own demons, so I'm really happy that I don't have to deal with those right now.

It means — wow. You know, you'd like to believe that it means that people actually take your work seriously and think highly of you and all of those beautiful things that you think of career-wise and artistically and business-wise, as well. …I've [been] watching the Tony Awards since I was in high school and wanting that so badly.

Douglas Hodge, Leading Actor in a Musical, La Cage aux Folles: Well, I sort of — all along, I thought, "Well, I'd better not even think about it," because I obviously would love it more than anything [laughs] and didn't want to put the mockers on it, if you know what I mean. So, I'm delighted and I do feel like, you [AUDIO-LEFT5]know, for the show to get 11 nominations… It's fantastic for each department, really. And I'm especially pleased about Kelsey [Grammer] being nominated, which is absolutely rioting and thrilling.

I think, nowadays, especially in America, I think everyone is interested in what's new and who's the next young thing. …I suppose I feel, you know, I've been working for 20 years just honing and failing and improving and finessing and, you know, just working on my craft. And, more or less, everything that I've learned, really, is demanded for by this particular role. So it does feel like I'm doing everything I know. I'm singing and dancing and acting and clowning and also trying to make it as moving as possible. So it's really encouraging and rewarding to think that all that work is recognized, even if it's just a nomination, it's absolutely terrific.

Denzel Washington

Denzel Washington, Leading Actor in a Play, Fences (through a spokesperson): Being on Broadway, and [in] the theatre community as a whole, is like coming home again for me, and sharing a Tony nomination for Fences, with so many wonderfully talented people associated with this play, makes it seem like one big family reunion. Geoffrey Nauffts, Playwright, Best Play, Next Fall: I was planning, in typical my fashion, to just kind of sleep through it and be woken up or not woken up accordingly, but that was sidetracked [when] one of my producers and my dear friend, Anthony Barrile, called me up about a half hour beforehand and basically said, "Wake up, [AUDIO-LEFT6]bitch." Apparently [cable channel] New York 1 wasn't gonna air them live and he doesn't have a computer and he needed me to turn on my computer and, you know, give him a blow-by-blow detail of it all. So that's how I found out.

It was thrilling. It was really, just a really great moment. One of those great moments that you hear about and that you read about, and it's a little surreal in that sense but really, really great. And then to be followed by my director, Sheryl Kaller, getting a nom was just — I jumped higher and louder for her nomination than I did for the play. I'm just so thrilled and happy for that recognition. She's been such an integral part of this whole production. I've been doing this a long time as an artist, as an actor primarily. And it's something, when I first started out, you know, you always think about and dream about and it's sort of the pinnacle of what we do. I never imagined it would come to me necessarily as a writer back then, but for it to be happening is just so amazing and thrilling and I guess it just gives me hope. I feel like it doesn't give me hope, it gives me faith, I guess, and I hope it gives other people faith that have been doing it for so long and have been in this game for so long to persevere and keep creating, because these moments can happen and it's thrilling when they do.

Levi Kreis, Featured Actor in a Musical, Million Dollar Quartet: It was just me and my partner sitting down and having some coffee… We were gathered around the computer at tonyawards.com with our coffee this morning, just listening to them read them off and waiting with bated breath. [Laughs.] Hoping that our musical got [AUDIO-LEFT7]recognized and so proud of getting that Best Musical nomination and the Best Book nomination, and obviously, I'm sort of speechless about the Featured Actor nomination. It's pretty exciting news.

It's been a long road with this particular piece. I've been workshopping it since 2004, so I just feel like that kind recognition of what's now many years of work of developing this piece is so — it's almost beyond words to be able to describe finally having years of your blood, sweat and tears put into creating this to be recognized by a wonderful community like that. So, you know, it's humbling, it's humbling.

Scarlett Johansson, Featured Actress in a Play, A View From the Bridge (through a spokesperson): It has been a dream come true to be a part of the Broadway community. I am deeply honored to be nominated and so proud to have been a part of this extraordinary production.

Sherie Rene Scott

Sherie Rene Scott, Actress in a Musical and Best Book of a Musical, Everyday Rapture (through a spokesperson): I'm grateful our work in Everyday Rapture will be included in Broadway's big night of love for the theatre — and I'm beyond thrilled to also be nominated with my beloved co-author Dick Scanlan. We are honored and look forward to sharing this season with our friends and artists. Karine Plantadit, Featured Actress in a Musical, Come Fly Away: I went live online and I listened very carefully, though I didn't want to listen while my stomach was turned around, until they pronounced my name, where I just literally screamed. [Laughs.] I screamed. I screamed. I screamed really, really loud and I jumped at least five times in the air. [Laughs.] …It's a beautiful recognition and also, it's like a dialogue that's been opened. You know, we said something and someone says something back to you. And so the dialogue is opening for this production but for many productions that will come our way. It means simply that there is a future for productions that are merging dance and acting…

Catherine Zeta-Jones, Leading Actress in a Musical, A Little Night Music: What a thrill to be nominated! The experience of doing this incredible show and working every night with such a talented group of people has truly been one of the most rewarding experiences of my career. And now to be nominated for a Tony, in my dreams, I couldn't imagine a better way to make my Broadway debut. Eddie Redmayne, Featured Actor in a Play, Red: I'm staying in the East Village, and I'm a sort of living cliché of a sort of wannabe New Yorker, armed with guitar and a lot of paint, and I stumbled out of bed to turn on the news, and it was one of the more frightening moments of my life. [Laughs.] I really can't express. As [AUDIO-LEFT8]a British actor, getting to do a play on Broadway, that's just stuff that dreams are made of. And the fact that, firstly, the play has been so embraced, given it's a New York play about a New York artist, has been just kind of overwhelming but this is like the ultimate cherry on top of the most mammoth cake. [Laughs.]

Stephen Kunken, Featured Actor in a Play, Enron: My response was: "Holy s***!" I don't know if you can print that. I'm just shocked. It's like the embodiment of a dream. We couldn't scream too loud because we had a baby in the other room — a late-sleeping baby and a dog with a hurt leg who was gonna jump off the couch, so it was sort of a silent scream. Amazing. Holy sh**, man, I can't f****** believe it! To get nominated? That's it. Wow. [When I was a kid in Brookville, Long Island], I would watch the Tonys with my parents. Since we were always going into the city to see Broadway shows, it was a big deal. It was a bigger deal in our house than any of the other awards show.

Chad Kimball

Chad Kimball, Leading Actor in a Musical, Memphis: Lisa Goldberg, my publicist, she was very, very, very hardcore about me having my phone on, and it died! [Laughs.] So I emailed her my home phone number, 'cause I didn't think she had it, and so she called that number and left a message but I gave her the wrong number, so somebody in New York City thinks they have a Tony nomination [Laughs] and they actually don't. So I actually heard from my manager, whose name is, coincidentally, Tony! We've been together for 12 years, and he called me and said, "Am I the one to tell you?" And I said, "Yeah, telling me what? What? About what?" [Laughs.] I was just so excited and so, so happy for the show. You know, it's one thing to be a part of the show and to be recognized yourself, but I think we're just all so proud of the show itself and the fact that it's gotten so many nominations. I'm just so pleased about that. [AUDIO-LEFT9]I've always just looked up to the people and my peers, I guess, the people in this industry and in theatre who have been nominated previously. You know, there's obviously just something in you that — you strive to be like them. You figure out what they've done to make it, and so it just means, I guess, that maybe we've found a way to make it through this little maze of theatre life. [Laughs.]

John Logan, Playwright, Best Play, Red: I asked [producer] Arielle Tepper to call me, 'cause I was too nervous to watch TV or to look at the computer, so I just paced until she called me and told me. It's a little overwhelming. [AUDIO-RIGHT16]I mean, I grew up in New Jersey, and my youth was spent taking the train into the half-price booth every single weekend seeing Broadway shows since I was a kid and dreaming about this moment, actually. I'm not a kid [now], you know, and I've spent a long time being a writer, but to be nominated for a Tony for a play on Broadway is absolutely the top of the food chain, as far as I'm concerned. … Every second of it I'm gonna enjoy."

Linda Lavin, Leading Actress in a Play, Collected Stories (through a spokesperson): I am beyond thrilled with this recognition and highly honored to be in the company of such great actors. It is a spectacular day for me today.

Dick Scanlan, Best Book of a Musical, Everyday Rapture: I was watching the [nomination announcement] stream on the Tony Awards website. It was with my partner, Alan, and a friend of ours who was visiting from L.A. for the opening, and we made mimosas. And I never drink, but I have all this champagne from opening night, and I figured, "Well, we'll have mimosas, and that way, if I'm nominated, we can celebrate, and if I'm not, we can drown our sorrows." We had it ready when the nominations were announced. I had it all set up. We had the mimosas in hand, we had the champagne and I'd got fresh orange juice last night. It was kind of beautiful.

[AUDIO-LEFT10]Honestly, I'm still getting used to the idea that Everyday Rapture is coming to Broadway. The fact that we're already on Broadway and have opened and now are Tony-nominated is so startling to me because it's all happened so quickly. It was 42 days ago today that we got the call [about moving to Broadway], so it's like, I'm still getting used to the fact that this is happening and now to be Tony-nominated for it is just thrilling. You know, it's a real honor. I grew up watching the Tony Awards and wanting to be one of those people that is nominated for Tony Awards and it's lovely to be one.

Donald Margulies, Playwright, Best Play, Time Stands Still: My wife and I looked at the live blogging on the New York Times website this morning despite my better interests. [Laughs.] You know, I couldn't resist. I knew that it was happening live, so I got ahold of the laptop and we looked at it at breakfast. I was delighted, I was relieved because I was hoping that the play would be remembered. [Laughs.] [AUDIO-RIGHT14]The play was a limited engagement and I know that people have very short memories when it comes to things like awards seasons. So I was very happy that the play, the production was recognized. I've never been nominated for a Tony before. I've received other honors that have been completely terrific and wonderful, but something on this level has never come my way, and I'm very happy to have achieved this. I've had five plays on Broadway and this is my first nomination so it feels particularly sweet.

Jan Maxwell, Leading Actress in a Play for The Royal Family and Featured Actress in a Play for Lend Me a Tenor: It's kind of one of those mornings that I'll probably never forget. [Laughs.] We have this little tiny cabin up by Woodstock and I went up to the country and [had] no Internet, [AUDIO-LEFT12]no cell phone reception and my calling card gave out. So about 9 this morning, I went over to the neighbor's yard and piggybacked on their Internet, which they gave me permission to do when they were here. And I looked at Playbill.com and I saw them and I just kind of whispered to myself — I was all by myself, [and I said,] "Oh, my God!" I was just over the moon. I started the season just thankful that I was employed and going to be able to pay some bills [Laughs], and this is such an honor to be noticed in such a celebrity-filled season. And Lend Me a Tenor is so much fun and I work with such wonderful people, and Royal Family meant the world to me because it's about us, you know. It's about theatre folk, and I really admire and respect theatre folk, so it really meant a lot. And it also means a lot that they were both nominated for Best Revival, and I wish that we had more nominations for those shows. But I get to work with and I got to work with such incredible people. I'm just really thankful for this season and for the directors I have and David Caparelliotis, who was the casting director for both of them.

Bobby Steggert

Bobby Steggert, Featured Actor in a Musical, Ragtime: I'm kind of in shock, so I'm not making coherent sense. [Laughs.] [AUDIO-RIGHT11]I obviously knew it might happen because of the other nominations, but I was kind of stressing myself out about it, so I just turned my phone off and went to bed and thought, "When I wake up, whenever that is, if there are messages on my phone, it probably happened." And I woke up and there were about 20 missed calls, and so I figured it was probably happening. [Laughs.] I was kind of stupefied. I think that's the best word, because even though it's been happening in the past week, our show closed five months ago, and I just kind of didn't think that the nominators would have us fresh in their memory, and the fact that they did is just kind of stunning to me. It means, hopefully, more opportunity in the future. I mean, all I've ever wanted to do is work in the community that I love and hopefully this means more of the same.

Christiane Noll, Leading Actress in a Musical, Ragtime: I was in my closet because I'm leaving tonight for London. I'm singing with Julie Andrews this week, and so I was realizing I had to pack, and so I was pulling out dresses and trying not to wake up my daughter and [AUDIO-LEFT15]my husband who were still sleeping. And then, next thing I know, the phone goes, "Ding ding! Ding ding! Ding ding!" And things are buzzing are vibrating and — "Oh, gosh!" So, yeah, that's how I found out. [Laughs.] I jumped on my husband and just gave him a big hug and was just kind of quiet but really pleased. I think, because we had closed [and] just all sorts of things, I had accepted the fact that it wasn't gonna happen. People had been so supportive and amazing, and lots of "I-told-you-so's" are coming in this morning, which is kinda nice. [Laughs.] But I really had decided that it wasn't gonna happen, so to have it has just been a real lovely, lovely recognition for me and for everything in the show. I mean, we got seven nominations and for a show that is closed — I mean, we were so moved by the piece and still are when we think about it, so it's really gratifying and flattering to be remembered like that.

There is something that, as an actor, as a performer, when you’re in this business, that’s now gonna follow me around. When I’m introduced at an event, people will always be able to say, "Tony Award-nominated actress," and there’s something special about that.

Barbara Cook, Featured Actress in a Musical, Sondheim on Sondheim: [I'm] pleased, of course! I was very pleased. It's a very nice thing. Let's see, the first time was 1958 [for The Music Man], so how many years is that? I can't even count that fast, but that's pretty amazing, you know? For what, 50 years? I don't know, I can't count that fast … 52 years, then I was nominated for Mostly Sondheim, the show I did about Stephen.

Christopher Walken, Leading Actor in a Play, A Behanding in Spokane (through a spokesperson): Thank you very much. I look forward to seeing my friends.

Katie Finneran, Featured Actress in a Musical, Promises, Promises: I went to bed way too late last night and woke up from a phone call from my boyfriend, who's in Philadelphia shooting a Robert De Niro movie, and he called me and told me that it was happening. I was just so excited. You know, it happened like nine, [AUDIO-LEFT17]eight years ago [for Noises Off] and it's so thrilling. You just can't help but feel like a little kid when it happens. It's like every little kid's dream. I was very eager to know who else got nominated for the show and kinda disappointed the show didn't get nominated for Best Revival, 'cause I think it's just a perfect evening in the theatre. And I was disappointed that Kristin didn't get nominated. There were a few disappointments, but I am completely thrilled, and the way I see it is that my nomination is everyone's nomination, really.

Sean Hayes, Leading Actor in a Musical, Promises, Promises: I could say a million things for you right now. I was ecstatic, of course. I mean, I was over the moon. I couldn't believe it. I didn't expect any of it. I expected to come here and work really, really hard at this part because it's my Broadway debut and all I wanted to do was do a good job for myself and the people in the show and the people involved in the show and for, you know, the ticket buyers. Anything other than that has been amazing and a wonderful byproduct of an unbelievable experience. So this is just mind-blowing.

I look forward to every single time [Kristin] Chenoweth comes on the stage in the very first scene. I still get butterflies every single show, and to me, this nomination is for the both of us, because it's definitely a two-hander and I couldn't have done this without her. So me getting nominated is both of us getting nominated, I think.

Valerie Harper, Leading Actress in a Play, Looped: Oh, my God, I'm ecstatic! I'm absolutely thrilled beyond belief. It's an absolute dream come true. And it's so true about the nomination being so important and so thrilling.

Kelsey Grammer, Leading Actor in a Musical, La Cage aux Folles: My wife called me this morning from L.A. She tracked me down in upstate New York and told me that I'd been nominated. [It was] very nice. Well, I was certainly thrilled. [Laughs.] It's been a lifelong dream of mine to make it on the Great White Way, you know? It's pretty great, so I was excited.

Branford Marsalis, Composer, Best Score, Fences: I was in this really grueling touring schedule, and the work on Fences shortened my days at home to about seven days since Feb. 27. And I got home last night from a mastering project on a record and told my wife I was just gonna sit on the couch all day. That's what I'm doing, I'm sitting. And I did not know that the Tony nominations were this morning. So I was watching sports shows and news shows, and after about an hour and a half on the couch, got up to see who had been calling, who I had been ignoring. And my computer was out and I checked the email and there was a message from my manager. She had called about eight times, and I said, "What the hell is that?" [Laughs.] And then I got the email from her saying, "You got the Tony nomination." Well, I was really sleepy, so I went, what? I think I called her and said [Sleepy voice], "Hi." She goes, "Isn't that great?" I'm like, "Uh huh, yeah, it's great." You don't expect it, you know? When you decide you want to play jazz and you're 20 years living in New York, [you don't think], "You know, one day, guys, I'm gonna get nominated for a Tony!" It's not part of the discussion, so it's quite shocking.

The way it kind of came about, the whole process of [director] Kenny Leon just deciding he wanted me to write this music and lobbying to get me, the whole thing just happened so fast and it was such a whirlwind. Considering what the music is, and all the music is doing is — there's no set changes, so the music is basically an emotional underpinning to either support the previously viewed scene or as a prologue or preview to the upcoming scene. So given the limited amount of music that's in, I didn't really think that it would have any kind of impact or even considered being nominated, so I'm shocked, dude. [Laughs].

Playbill.com contributors to this piece include Andrew Gans, David Gewirtzman, Ernio Hernandez, Adam Hetrick, Kenneth Jones, Andrew Ku and Thomas Peter.

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