Tony in Tow, On With the Show: Trio of 2006 Winners Still in Roles on Bway

Tony Awards   Tony in Tow, On With the Show: Trio of 2006 Winners Still in Roles on Bway Three Tony Award winners from last season — The Drowsy Chaperone's Beth Leavel and Jersey Boys' John Lloyd Young and Christian Hoff — not only put in a full day's work on Tony night, they put in a full year.

Tony Award Winner Beth Leavel is still
Tony Award Winner Beth Leavel is still "Stumbling Along" one year later. Photo by Joan Marcus

All three stars continue to perform in their Tony Award-winning roles on Broadway a year after winning the honor — and they don't plan to stop anytime soon.

"I'm having the time of my life, when am I going to get a role like Drowsy again?" Leavel posed to Playbill.com. "I'm happy as a clam over there, and I can't believe it's been a year!"

The actress, who plays the title role in the musical, recalled the rundown of her Tony night — make that Tony day. "Tony day started at the crack of dawn because I live in New Jersey. We had a rehearsal at Radio City and they film the whole thing just in case. So I had to be at the theatre at 8, maybe earlier, get in full Drowsy [get-up] — the makeup and the hair — get on a bus [and go] over to Radio City and we did our 'Show Off' number."

Just as she was descending from the stage after the performance, Leavel revealed an onstage mishap. "I had on this necklace with luscious green beads and a brooch [that] broke, and the beads went all over the stage!" Luckily, she got to a stage manager, and no Sweeney Todd cast members were harmed during the filming.

"Then we go back to the theatre. I remember having a little lie-me-down, trying to sleep. Then we had a show, a matinee — our show comes down at 5 o'clock. I had a friend of mine doing my make-up and my hair — we forgot to plug in the curlers — so she's holding lukewarm curlers in my hair, and they're announcing 'Beth Leavel, your car is here.' I'm like, 'I'm not ready!' The rest of the night I'm kinda out of my body." A full day's work already done, she had yet to arrive for the Tony Awards and was soon greeted by the second leg of her doubleshift. "I've never really done a red carpet that huge. It was spectacularly terrifying! People screaming your name and you're waving and talking to these TV crews from all over the place — it was absolutely thrilling. Once that was done, I had to go back in and get into Drowsy again. Everyone's backstage vocalizing — me and Sutton [Foster] and Patti LuPone all like, 'meee, meee, meee mee!' Then we did the number — my necklace didn't break — I didn't faint, and we did the whole getting back into my gown again, taking my make-up off and putting some kind of normal make-up on. Then I finally was able to go out during a commercial break and sit with my husband, and it wasn't much longer after that that my category was announced. And then I won and went across the street and did all this press stuff again. I came back and watched the end and hardly remember any of it. Then I just couldn't wait to get to the Drowsy [after-] party to sit down."

John Lloyd Young shared Leavel's exhilarated-yet-exhausted sentiment — topping her with another post-Tony gig. "It wasn't until after the Tony ceremony, on the tour bus to, if you can believe it, perform at the White House the next day — I mean it did not end, it lasted after the Tonys, all that work — so just lying there on this tour bus looking up at the ceiling, my voicemail full of congratulatory calls, finally I got a moment of rest."

Playing the show now for the actor — who channels Four Seasons frontman Frankie Valli — is a completely enjoyable experience. "As I extended in the show and just re-extended another six months, this actually is the year of fun. Last year was a huge investment of time and energy, but now it's enjoying all the spoils of that work."

He does admit there is another challenge playing in a successful show. "Last year, we had all this excitement behind us because we were this new hit show and we got standing ovations in the middle of songs — now that we won all the accolades, you have to deliver maybe even more now because they expect you to be great. They are still very enthusiastic, but they're not surprised: I won a Tony, Christian won a Tony and the show won a Tony." He also quips, "The lighting won a Tony, so they expect to be able to see us."

Watching the nominations announced this year, Young identified with a current nominee. "I had stiff, stiff competition. I was this new kid out of nowhere, [and] I guessed that [Spring Awakening's] Jonathan Groff — who was in a similar position to me — must have been over the moon with his nomination, so my heart went out to him as a fellow young one."

Christian Hoff, Young's co-star who tackles the tough crooner Tommy DeVito in Jersey Boys, did not rise early this year to witness the Tony nominations first hand. "Actually, I was dead asleep last year, too. I knew that morning it would happen, but I don't set my clock to those things. I don't know if it's a defense mechanism, but I try to just live my life for the work or the process."

The veteran actor lists his reasons for why doing the show is still fulfilling for him: "Number one, doing what you love for a living is a thrill and has its own reward. Then there's the being part of something that's actually bigger than yourself — with a successful show. And then, the third part is making people happy and reaching out to people in a way that you usually don't get to do. So to be able to tie those three things together and continue to do that is incredible.

"Last night, someone in the audience — who saw the show for the first time — said that it felt like she was part of the opening-night performance," Hoff offered as an example of the latter blessing. "And that is the best thing that an actor can hear — to be part of something that is sustaining at that level . . . is rare and wonderful."

Though still as busy as he was promoting and performing the show last year, Hoff notes the change of being on Broadway during this Tony season. "It's my first time being a part of a season that has moved on and the tide is definitely roaring down, but I feel like — still being in a hit show — we are sort of anchored and the tide is rushing around us."

Both Jersey Boys have extended their runs with the Broadway musical through October. As for the extremely-content Leavel, she said: "Probably another year," jokingly adding, "unless they call me and go, 'Oh, Ms. Leavel, your TV series is ready.'"

(It should also be noted that Leavel's fellow Featured Actress in a Musical nominee, Elisabeth Withers-Mendes, is still performing the role of Shug Avery in Broadway's The Color Purple.)

John Lloyd Young and Christian Hoff are still performing their Tony-winning roles in <i>Jersey Boys</i>.
John Lloyd Young and Christian Hoff are still performing their Tony-winning roles in Jersey Boys. Photo by Joan Marcus