40 Tony Nominees of 2012, Including Steve Kazee, Audra McDonald, Kelli O'Hara, Linda Lavin, React to Nomination News

By Andrew Gans
and Kenneth Jones, Michael Gioia
May 1, 2012

Playbill.com reached out to the 2012 Tony Award nominees on May 1, shortly after they learned that they were nominated for Broadway's biggest award. Here's what they had to say.



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Steve Kazee, Best Leading Actor in a Musical (playing "Guy"), Once: My phone was just exploding. [Laughs.] I was sound asleep, and I just sort of heard bells and whistles going off everywhere. I sort of knew… Usually when the news is not good, it's just this dead silence, which I have experienced in other years. But this is completely different. The phone has not stopped calling all morning. Then I went immediately online and saw all the nominations. I'm just a little stunned at the moment, actually. I've known that we've been in a good show since the day that we started just because the way that it feels, as an actor. But to be recognized like this is actually quite humbling. It's special on so many different levels this year. I've never been as proud of a piece of work that I've been a part of as I am with this show. And, I know that that's sort of the stock answer that everyone has, but for me it's true. If we would have gotten zero nominations today, the job that was done by this show, to sort of inspire me as an artist for the rest of my days — to know that we could do this, and I can do this, and it can be commercial, and people will recognize it — to me, that's a gift larger than any award nomination. But the fact that we are getting this sort of recognition just goes to make it all that much more special. I recently lost my mother — it's also special for me for reasons along that level. I always wanted her to be able to see this moment. It's a little surreal right now that this is all happening.

 

Roger Rees, Best Direction of a Play (co-directing with Alex Timbers), Peter and the Starcatcher: I was walking in the park, and someone phoned me on my cell phone. I was so pleased for the play. We got nine nominations, which is wonderful, across the board for the creative and the acting and the directing and everything, which means that more people will come and see this play, which is why we moved to Broadway. We sold out and people were clamoring for tickets and couldn't get in when we did this play at the New York Theatre Workshop, so now more people can see it. I'm so pleased to have done it with Alex Timbers, who is half my age — a wonderful new, great, spirited, talented director in the theatre who cares immensely about the theatre being a great, great place.

Jessie Mueller
photo by Joan Marcus

Jessie Mueller, Featured Actress in a Musical (playing "Melinda"), On a Clear Day You Can See Forever: (Via statement) I'm still in shock. It has not sunk in yet. I'm honored and humbled to be nominated with the other amazing women in this category. And I'm floored by the way the community here has embraced me. My agent called to tell me. I was with my boyfriend at the time, and when I got off the phone I just cried! I was not expecting this. I loved doing the show every night. I am so grateful to Harry [Connick, Jr.] and David [Turner], the whole cast and crew, our producers, and the whole team. The outpouring of love from friends and family is overwhelming!

Jack Feldman, Lyricist, Best Original Score, Newsies: I just happened to flipping channels… [Laughs.] No, I knew it was going to be televised! It's a reasonable 8:30 here in New York. I was not blasé enough not to watch. I had it on every second. I was beyond thrilled. The first one that came up was the Best Musical nominations, and obviously I whooped and hollered. I whooped and hollered for all connected with the show who got it, and how could I not be proud and thrilled beyond words that they nominated the score? It's been my dream forever. Just to put it in context in a complete thumbnail, it's what I wanted to do since I was five years old — write songs for the theatre — so I can't think of anything that means more to me, personally, than that.

Michael McGrath, Best Featured Actor in a Musical (playing "Cookie"), Nice Work If You Can Get It: I watched the stream on the computer. I watched it live — in color! Well, first of all, I'm excited for the show to do so well — it's a great thing for everybody involved. And, for myself, my wife and I were just sort of holding each other for a couple of seconds and waiting with bated breath. [Laughs.] It's a little nerve-racking… If your name doesn't get called from the very get-go. I guess they do it in alphabetical order or something, but it just draws out the anxiety. My wife's response was a little more animated than mine — she hugged me and kissed me. I was in shocked silence for a couple of seconds. [Laughs.] I was nervous, to tell you the truth, but very, very excited and very happy. It makes me satisfied that the hard work pays off. I've done a lot of shows, and it's all about the work — it's all about how much you put in, and getting this back now, at this stage of the game… I mean, I'm not through by any means! [Laughs.] But it's great to come now. I'm so glad it's happening now rather than when I was 22 or 23 and probably wouldn't have appreciated it as much.

Jeff Calhoun
dirty sugar photography

Jeff Calhoun, Best Direction of a Musical, Newsies: How did I find out? Well, my partner and I set my alarm, and I stood in my kitchen, and I watched live on NY1. There's so many things that go through my mind. Anyone that says that it's not thrilling is full of shit. And, I know now because for years I've been full of shit! [Laughs.] Look, no one goes into the theatre to win an award. You go into the theatre to create beautiful work, and to have a show that I'm really proud of actually get this recognition is honestly thrilling. But the most thrilling for me was the vindication that Bonnie & Clyde had with Laura [Osnes'] and Frank [Wildhorn's] nomination — I can't even tell you. I got very emotional. It was a thrilling morning. It's a thrilling day. I've only been nominated once before, and that was for choreography for Grease, and so to have a nomination as a director is also sort of a dream come true. Tommy Tune was the first person to call me this morning. And, he was my mentor. The first nomination I received, I was actually with Tommy when that was announced, so that was a nice full circle.

Jeremy Jordan, Best Leading Actor in a Musical (playing "Jack Kelly"), Newsies: I watched [the nominations] on my computer. I live in Jersey, so I don't get the live broadcast [on TV]. It was pretty awesome! [Laughs.] I was sitting in bed with my fiancée and my puppy, and my heart was pounding, and they said the name, and it was like a wave of gratitude. It's great. It's a really awesome feeling. It feels like it's kind of like the end of this really long road I've been traveling on. It's sort of been going nonstop, and switching from one thing to the next to the next. I thought when maybe Newsies opened, I get to breathe a sigh of relief. [Laughs.] It's still going. Maybe it's not the end. It's like an ever-progressing journey that keeps on getting better and better.

Michael Cerveris, Best Featured Actor in a Musical (playing "Juan Perón"), Evita: I was actually in transit on my way to the recording studio, where we're recording the Evita cast album today. We started recording at 9 o'clock this morning, so I was already on my way when I got a call from my agent. I think the special thrill of the recognition this time is the feeling that it kind of acknowledges and recognizes the new things that we discovered and unearthed in the character of Perón and the new sort of place that the story of the relationship between Perón and Eva has taken in this production. I think that's something we're really proud of — shedding more light and bringing more dimensions to the character of Perón that has been played brilliantly and memorably by Bob Gunton and Jonathan Pryce in the movie.

Alan Menken, Composer, Best Original Score, Newsies: I went online at 8:30 and saw Jim Parsons and Kristin Chenoweth — they were adorable. They were great. I was really happy. I was relieved at the top to see that actually Leap of Faith got a nomination, too, for Best Musical. The show needs that. And, thrilled to see Newsies get so many people recognized. I don't really understand the nominating process with the Tony committee — what criteria they use — but I feel pretty satisfied. I'm sad, I've got to say, that Raúl was not nominated. It was shocking for me, and yet I love the other people. Jeremy [Jordan] — fantastic! It's been an interesting year for me, because of the two babies [Leap of Faith and Newsies]. The truth is, the real award for me is in the relationships I have with people on these shows, and I care about both shows—so deeply about everybody. In both cases, it has been a great group of people. The awards are a celebration, and you want to share that.

Stockard Channing
photo by Joan Marcus

Stockard Channing, Best Leading Actress in a Play (playing "Polly Wyeth"), Other Desert Cities: It's an enormous, enormous thing. It's enormous. I really love the play. I love this character. She's so unusual, and it's so satisfying to play her. I don't think I've seen anyone — a character — quite like her. But…the audience has no idea what she's really like until the last five minutes of the play. [Laughs.] You don't get a chance to play that very often. But she never apologizes for herself, and she's her own person. I don't know if I'd want to be around her. [Laughs.] But I have my quota of a couple hours a night. That's about it.

Harvey Fierstein, Best Book of a Musical, Newsies: It's exciting. Jeremy Jordan wrote me this morning and said, "Does it ever get old?" And, I wrote back and said, "Does applause ever get old?" It's very exciting. As you probably know, Newsies is the most requested title that Disney has for production. They get more requests from schools and church groups and community theatres and camps to put on Newsies, and they never had a version to license out, so people have taken the movie and done whatever they could with it. So really, we wrote this with that in mind—that this would be a version that could be licensed out. And, that was our hope for it — that we would be creating something that would make a lot of children happy. But when you're working on something, you always have a dream that could go further. And so the fact is, we wrote something that was not really ever supposed to be what it's become, but it's become what it wants to be, which is something wonderful.

Kathleen Marshall, Best Direction and Choreography of a Musical, Nice Work If You Can Get It: Our kids — our twins — are almost two, and they go off to a music class on Tuesday mornings, so we were sort of getting them ready and getting their shoes and coats on and watching [TV] at the same time. [Laughs.] [I'm] thrilled. I mean, so thrilled. And, I'm thrilled for my husband because he's got two nominations because he's on the producing team of Venus in Fur [and on Nice Work], too, so he's got New Play and New Musical, which is great. So we're a quadruple-nomination household. [Laughs.] It's bittersweet because I really was disappointed that Matthew Broderick didn't get a nomination because he is our show, and he carries the show, and he's the reason we're there, so that's disappointing. But I'm thrilled for everyone in our cast. I'm especially happy for Kelli and Michael McGraw and Judy Kaye.

John Lee Beatty, Best Scenic Design of a Play, Other Desert Cities: (Via statement) I am currently in rehearsals for Gentlemen Prefer Blonds at Encores! and was arranging jewelry cases when I heard the news. We started Other Desert Cities last year Off-Broadway, and all knew instantly that we had something special. Thanks to Lincoln Center Theater, Jon Robin Baitz and Joe Mantello for including me in such an amazing team of artists.

Rob Ashford
Photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN

Rob Ashford, Best Choreography, Evita: It's always a thrill to be included. It's always nerve-racking and such an honor, really, to be included, so I was very happy.

David Alan Grier, Best Featured Actor in a Musical (playing "Sporting Life"), Porgy and Bess: Well, I got up really early and I had my phone purposefully turned off, and I started watching "Sports Center," and I just wanted to have breakfast in peace before I heard about anything. So I turned my phone on, and as soon as I did, one of the cast members — a good friend of mine, Allison, she's in the ensemble — called, and I found out at that same moment, and we just started screaming and crying and hollering. I mean, it's so great that I got this individual nomination, but for this show to get ten nominations is just really overwhelming and just blows me away. We all do good work. We all try our best — all these actors on Broadway. Everybody. It's like being in a cult. But for the show to get honored like that — emails and texts and phone calls have just been flying. I'm so happy.

Jeremy Shamos, Best Featured Actor in a Play (playing "Karl/Steve"), Clybourne Park: (Via statement) My kids were a little disappointed to turn off the cartoons… but when they announced my name, we had a big family hug and my daughter, who just turned five (but is comically advanced) put a whoopie cushion in the middle of the hug so it was a big fart hug. Really excited and so proud of the show and I consider my nomination to be a nomination for the whole ensemble because it's the most incredible six people to share a stage with and so happy for [director] Pam [MacKinnon], [playwright] Bruce [Norris] and the whole team.

Condola Rashad, Best Featured Actress in a Play (playing "Cheryl"), Stick Fly: I was asleep, and my best friend since I was 12 called me. He called, and I looked at the phone, and I was like, "O.K., I'll call him when I get up," and he called me again, and I was like, "O.K.!" And, I went back to sleep, and he called me a third time, and I was like, "Uh-oh, what's going on?" I pick up the phone and there it was. I was kind of like, "Wait. What?" [Laughs.] I was very surprised. I am very surprised. I'm still left jobless, so I'm still a little shocked. I'm greatly humbled, and I'm very grateful, but again, I kind of just do what I do and I don't really think too much about whether it's still happening or not. These are all little aftershocks for me. It's great, it's exciting, I'm really proud, but I'm also kind of like, "All right. I'll just keep doing what I do." [Laughs.]

Judy Kaye
photo by Joan Marcus

Judy Kaye, Best Featured Actress in a Musical (playing "Duchess Estonia Dulworth"), Nice Work If You Can Get It: I was sleeping away, and in the mornings I turn on the television and I slap myself around a little bit. It happened that CBS was up because I watch "Letterman" at night, and they just happened to be announcing it. I said, "Wait a minute. Wait a minute. That's why I didn't sleep so good last night." [Laughs.] I forgot all about this, and there it was on the tube. It's amazing how fast everyone in this day and age knows something. It's rather amazing and a little scary and actually very good that everyone wants to share their happiness with you. It's really great. I'm not the new, young thing on the block. Did [Tony-winning character actress] Helen Gallagher say it was "very encouraging"? [Laughs.] It is encouraging. It means that they're going to keep letting me do what I love to do, which is do plays, do musicals. I'm really, really thrilled and excited to be invited back to the party because it's a great party. The whole thing. The whole month is wacky and wonderful, and I'm really looking forward to it.

Linda Lavin, Best Leading Actress in a Play (playing "Rita Lyons"), The Lyons: I'm absolutely thrilled and in a state of high elation right now. I found out as I was landing in a plane this morning from a trip back home to North Carolina to a theatre that I own with my husband, who has directed a new play, and they did a performance last night… I went to see this new play that my husband has directed and designed. He's running a theatre in Wilmington, NC. I took a couple of people from the Vineyard [Theatre] with me for an overnight vacation, and we were flying back and just approaching LaGuardia when my phone started buzzing and ringing and making all those sounds that it makes when technology kicks in. And, I started getting texts and phone calls, so it was at 9:45 this morning that I got the news, and I'm just really flying high still even though I'm off the plane. 

Celia Keenan-Bolger

Celia Keenan-Bolger, Best Featured Actress in a Play (playing "Molly"), Peter and the Starcatcher: I woke up for it. We just finished doing like two weeks of the show without a day off, so months ago I booked a little stay-cation for me and my husband, not realizing that this was the day that the nominations were going to be announced, so we were in this sweet little hotel and turned on the television and it didn't have NY1, so we watched them on my tiny little phone. Honestly, I was so excited, but when the nominations were being announced and the show got nominated, in my head I was like, "It will be O.K. if I don't get nominated because I was so happy that the show and that Roger [Rees] and Alex [Timbers] were recognized. I didn't think I would feel that way, but I did. So it was just sort of icing on the cake when it got around to me and Christian [Borle]. I am just so grateful for it because I love this project so much, and I've been attached to it for three years, and I believe in it so much and so when you get to do something that you're really proud of and then it gets recognized, it's just so much more special.

Grant Olding, Composer-Lyricist, Best Original Score, Peter and the Starcatcher: I was actually at an awards ceremony for an award One Man, Two Guvnors was up for [in England], and, halfway through our awards meal, I got all these texts and emails saying, "Congratulations." I found out from friends texting me saying, "Well done." I couldn't quite believe it. And then I saw the list of the seven nominations [for One Man, Two Guvnors], and I was with Nick Hytner, the director, and Cal McCrystal, the physical-comedy director, and we were just over-the-moon. It's just fantastic to have the show recognized in this way. For a composer, there's no higher accolade than a Tony Score nomination. We don't have any awards for Best Score in England — not for plays or musicals, so it's never even been a possibility that I would be nominated or win anything for my music. To be entering in that long tradition of amazing scores that have been nominated for the award is just thrilling. 

Audra McDonald and Norm Lewis
Photo by Michael J. Lutch

Audra McDonald, Best Leading Actress in a Musical (playing "Bess"), Porgy and Bess: I don't want to say I was still asleep because I have to get up at 6:15 every morning to get my daughter ready for school and get her off to school, so I had gotten her off to school and gotten home about 8 — just gotten back and walked the dogs and gotten back into bed — and woke up to the sound of my phone buzzing and saw a text! This show means so much to me — and just the journey that we've all taken. I'm honored and thrilled and humbled that I was nominated, but I'm so proud of the show and that the nominating committee decided to recognize so many facets of this show. I'm just so proud of that. It's a very cohesive, very close family, and the fact that so many of them were recognized today just filled my heart with pride and joy and gratitude. I'm so happy for them. I'm so happy for Phillip [Boykin] and David [Alan Grier] and Norm [Lewis], especially. I'm just thrilled for everybody! And, all the categories for God sake! [My castmate from 110 in the Shade] Steve Kazee, I'm so, so happy for him. I'm beside myself for Steve!

Tracie Bennett, Best Leading Actress in a Play (playing "Judy Garland"), End of the Rainbow: (Via statement) To be honest, I'm a bit emotional today. It's taken me 50 years to get to New York, and I feel like I'm living the dream. To me, just getting to play this role is a giant gift, so it's quite unbelievable that they give you honors on top of that. The nomination also belongs to the incredible company of actors I am so privileged to work with, because I simply couldn't perform this role without them. Every night I try to convince myself that I'm doing the show in a little pub somewhere, because the idea of stepping onto a Broadway stage is totally overwhelming. But I know shows in pubs don't get Tony nominations, so it's getting harder and harder to pretend.

Jayne Houdyshell, Best Featured Actress in a Musical (playing "Hattie Walker"), Follies: I'm in L.A. right now, so it's a lot earlier here. About 7:30 this morning I got up and made my coffee and, as usual, opened my computer to check for emails, and there were a lot more emails on my computer than are usually there, so that's how I found out. It was all my East Coast friends already knowing and having been up for a while. It was a wonderful, wonderful surprise. I'm still a little bit in shock, really. It hasn't quite sunken in, but it's fantastic, and I'm so happy for everyone in our company and the show itself. From the moment that I was cast in this show and started rehearsals, it was an utter thrill to be part of the company — every step of the way through our New York run and now remounting it here in L.A. It has been nothing but pure joy to do.

Michael Cumpsty, Best Featured Actor in a Play (playing "Anthony"), End of the Rainbow: (Via statement) I was still fast asleep when the announcement was made. My partner snuck in and gave me a nudge and when I opened my eyes he was grinning from ear to ear and he had my agent on the speakerphone. It was ideal, I didn't have any time to be anxious. I woke up and went straight to happy! It's really a fantastic experience. I've been hearing from friends all over the world. My email and texts and Facebook page have all exploded. I've been chatting and texting with other friends who are also nominated, and of course with my favorite Diva of them all, Tracie Bennett. I feel like we're all getting ready for a big fun party, and from this distance, the actual award ceremony is the least of it. It's a big community celebration, and I just wish even more people could experience it.

Norm Lewis, Best Leading Actor in a Musical (playing "Porgy") in Porgy and Bess: You know what, I was going to play that role of being very nonchalant and say, "Someone woke me up and blah, blah, blah," but I was too excited. I couldn't sleep, so I got up and watched [the nominations on TV]. I couldn't believe it. My name was mentioned, and I was like, "I have to rewind," so I rewound it. [Laughs.] I had to hear it again, I was like, "Oh my God!" It's very exciting. It's very surreal. I had little fantasies about being a nominee, but never knew that it could actually happen. This is awesome.

Frank Langella, Best Leading Actor in a Play (playing "Gregor Antonescu"), Man and Boy: (Via statement) I was surprised and grateful.

Kelli O'Hara, Best Leading Actress in a Musical (playing "Billie Bendix"), Nice Work If You Can Get It: My husband came in and told me. I tried not to put too much pressure on it and watch or anything. I was trying to catch some extra winks. Very exciting. It's always very exciting. …That's like icing on what's a really tasty cake already. It's obviously bittersweet for me because my teammate, Matthew [Broderick], didn't get [nominated]. I really feel like the show works only because all the parts of the whole are working together, but I'm really proud of the show, and I'm really proud of being a part of something that's actually just so light and seems to make people really happy.

Cristin Milioti

Cristin Milioti, Best Leading Actress in a Musical (playing "Girl"), Once: I was fast asleep in bed. My boyfriend and I don't own a TV. We have, like, internet TV on a projector screen. Anyway, my phone rang, and it was my manager cheering on the other end, and that's how I found out. [My reaction] was delayed. I was so sleepy. I kind of just woke up and was like, "Oh my God… that's awesome." I got off the phone with them. My boyfriend refers to the Tonys as the "Tony Danzas," and he turned to me and he said, "You got nominated for a Tony Danza!" And, we just started laughing, and then it just sort of all hit me in very slow rolls throughout the morning. It's incredible. It's incredible. It's beyond words. For me to be nominated alongside the women I'm nominated with is surreal. They're women I've looked up to for years. I did one of my first plays with Jan [Maxwell] — we did Coram Boy together. Grateful is a word that is not even covering the amount of emotions and thankfulness that I feel, but it's very overwhelming. I still actually don't think it's hit me. …The tears haven't come yet, and I'll bet they'll come when I'm like in the shower or on the subway or like if I'm ordering coffee or something. [Laughs.] They'll come at a really inopportune moment, and they'll hit me really hard. [Laughs.]

Jon Robin Baitz, Playwright, Best Play, Other Desert Cities: There was a text from a friend of mine saying, "Congratulations." Then I somehow figured I should look the things up. [Laughs.] I was reading cookbooks. It's gratifying to be recognized by the theatre community in this way. It being my first play on Broadway after a couple of decades doing this — it's wonderful. It's been a wonderful experience in every respect. The only slightly embarrassing thing is it's hard for me when not everyone gets nominated for a prize. [Laughs.] It somewhat tempers my sense of jubilation, but I am very grateful and, you know, there's a kind of overweening joy at the vindication of being back in theatre. To me, it's, you know, an honor just to be in the American theatre. It's a privilege and an honor. This is hugely meaningful to me.

Spencer Kayden, Best Featured Actress in a Play (playing hired cook "Suzette"), Don't Dress for Dinner: A friend emailed me. Who wouldn't want to be nominated for a Tony? Only some crazy person. It's incredible, really — having not been in New York for so long. Urinetown opened over ten years ago, and to be able to come back and be welcomed like this is just really, really moving and satisfying and makes me so happy.

Christian Borle
Photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN

Christian Borle, Best Featured Actor in a Play (playing "Black Stache"), Peter and the Starcatcher: I woke up and turned on NY1 and waited for the announcement. I was elated. I'm so happy. I'm so proud and thrilled and over-the-moon for this show's recognition. I'm so proud of [co-directors] Alex [Timbers] and Roger [Rees] and that they got recognized for the extraordinary work that they did, and for Rick [Elice], who wrote that beautiful play. I just can't believe it. And, everybody! Every time they said Peter and the Starcatcher. I was sitting here alone… and I might have stood up at one point. You dream about it. Not to be corny about it, but it's a Tony Award. I was proud to be nominated before. I have my little Tony nominee pin on my mantle, and it's a great thrill and a great honor. I'm trying to just appreciate how incredibly lucky I have been this year. I feel like I work hard, and I'm proud of the work that I've done since moving to New York a couple of decades ago. But to have so many over-the-top wonderful things happen within the course of the year has been kind of dizzying and amazing, and I'm just really, really grateful. It's been a lot of fun — I can't lie!

Judith Light, Best Featured Actress in a Play (playing "Aunt Silda"), Other Desert Cities: My dad passed away two weeks ago… He's 98, he was just an amazing man. It was quick and peaceful, so thank you. But he was one of my biggest champions. Anyway, I was down in Florida yesterday. I had to clean out his entire apartment yesterday, so that I didn't miss any performances. Flew down there Sunday after the matinee, worked all day yesterday with friends who helped me get everything done, flew back last night, was so exhausted this morning, thought they were announced at nine o'clock this morning, so I said, "Just stay in the bed." Of course, they were announced at 8:30, so I missed them all. [Laughs.] I get out of bed, make the coffee, look at my phone, and on there is a text from Barbara Crompton, who was our company manager last year at Lombardi, and I got a call from my manager, Herb Hamsher — in California — of course at quarter-to-six this morning. And, that's how I found out — from Barbara and from Herb, so it was pretty sweet. Jon Robin Baitz is such a genius. This part is so magnificent. That Joe Mantello had the vision to see me in this part just completely blows my mind. The way that he directed me in this, with such patience and generosity, and to get to be with this company of actors, you can't ask for a better sister than Stockard Channing! [Laughs.] And, my beloved Stacy Keach, who I feel should have been nominated. Everyone in the play I feel should have been nominated. This is a stellar cast. It is, isn't it? And, an amazingly brilliant play, and to get so many nods for set and lighting — just to be a part of this and to be acknowledged again by the Tony committee… I tell you, it really, for me, is a thrill just to be nominated. And, to be in this company of women who are nominated in this category — I am incredibly honored.

Elizabeth A. Davis
photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN

Elizabeth A. Davis, Best Featured Actress in a Musical (playing "Réza"), Once: My husband, Jordan, and I were actually in a dead sleep. I had no intention of knowing anything about anything until I got to the show tonight. [Laughs.] And, my dear neighbor downstairs, who has been tracking with the show all along, came screaming up the stairs and woke us up from a dead sleep, and was screaming, "You've been nominated." And, I was just bleary-eyed and I absolutely did not believe her, and I just kept saying, "I don't believe you, Clybet. I don't believe you." And so my husband came in and checked online, and there it was, and I just collapsed onto the floor in tears. That's how I found out! [Laughs.] I'm still kind of in shock, and I'm utterly humbled and thankful. I am a part of an ensemble…and we will continue to be an ensemble that works as a tight-knit group. And so I just hope that this nomination, for me, can represent what our ensemble does on a nightly basis, and that is making music together.

 

Da'Vine Joy Randolph, Best Featured Actress in a Musical (playing medium "Oda Mae Brown"), Ghost: The Musical: My assistant and my agent called to wake me up to tell me, and….many texts — many, many texts. I said to myself, I was like, "I am going to sleep. I am going to try and sleep as much as possible." [Laughs.] Oh, my goodness, [it means] the world. Awesome. From jump, it's been such a blessing. Everything has just been added on, do you know what I mean? The surprise of getting one audition, to the surprise of going to the West End and doing a show and learning it in five days and then doing it for a run there and coming here and now this. It's really overwhelming, to be really honest with you. It can't get better for this. I literally could not ask for more.

Tom Edden, Best Featured Actor in a Play (playing bumbling waiter "Alfie"), One Man, Two Guvnors: "I made the dubious decision of watching [the nominations] on the television, which was more stressful than it needed it to be. I should have just slept in, but yeah, I watched it on the TV. I thought, "Well, why not? I'm not going to sleep." I just laughed. I laughed out loud. It's just crazy. And, I called my mother, and she started crying. It's big news. It's a big day for me because I've been an actor, professionally, for over ten years, and I've been grafting away. It was always my goal and my dream to work at the National Theatre, and so to be in this production that then went to the West End and then came to New York, and then there's this. It's just like the cake that's getting the cherry put on top of it. Whatever my next show is going to be, I don't know how it's going to match this. It's been the most amazing year. It really has. And, for this to come at this point is so unexpected, and I really have no right to expect that. I would have thought you were joking if you told me that was going to happen, really. It's amazing.

Josh Young
Photo by Joan Marcus

Josh Young, Best Featured Actor in a Musical (playing "Judas"), Jesus Christ Superstar: I 100 percent counted myself out because, I'm sure you know, I was sick for a good portion of the time surrounding opening. I expected it weeks ago that this probably wouldn't happen for me, so I was really just hoping for my show to get the recognition that it deserves. Anyway, last night I was at a gala, and everybody was asking me, "Are you nervous? Are you nervous for tomorrow?" And I said, "Not at all. I'm going to go to sleep. I'm going to sleep in as late as possible, and at some point during the day, I'll find out that my show was nominated and that I wasn't. And, that's it. I'll go on and do the best show possible as I always do." And, that's what I intended to do. I wasn't going to wake up [early] this morning, but my dog was actually pawing at my face to walk her… at exactly like 8:35. So I got up to walk her, and on my way out, I saw that the little LED light on my Android phone was blinking blue, which means I have a text message. I had left my phone off intentionally because I didn't want any sympathy calls early in the morning. So I left my phone off because I was really going to sleep through the morning. So the text message — I just clicked on to see what it was, really quickly, and it was my agent saying, "Atta boy!" And, I didn't know what "Atta boy!" could possibly mean. I thought maybe he had seen me in a concert last night or it was a leftover text from last night. Then it made me curious, and I went online — on my Facebook really quickly — and I had more messages than I've ever had in my life in a span of a couple minutes. [Laughs.] I'm just so shocked, and I also just want to say how much I appreciate the Tony committee to either come back and see me again or rearranging their schedules because I was sick. Not only is it such an honor and to get it for this role and to get it for my Broadway debut, but I really am so happy that it happened with this show and this company because I love the show, and I especially love the Stratford Shakespeare Festival. The Festival has been such a huge part of my life for the past two-and-a-half years. The fact that my nomination might bring a little more recognition to the Stratford Shakespeare Festival, that's kind of what means the most to me. They've been so supportive of my career and of me for the last couple of years.

 

James Corden
photo by Johan Persson

James Corden, Best Leading Actor in a Play (playing manservant "Francis Henshall"), One Man, Two Guvnors: I watched it on the TV… I have a one-year-old son, so it actually doesn't feel earlier anymore. [Laughs.] You know what I mean? I'm sure, for most actors, 8:30 in the morning is a time when they're asleep, but in our house, you've already been playing with some cars and crayons for a solid hour. It's kind of overwhelming to see…the list of other actors. You just go, "Oh my God!" Kind of crazy! It's such a special thing. If you grow up in a small suburb outside of London like I did, these things are so remote. [That] you would even work here — let alone work here and be recognized for your work here…it's terrific. I mean, especially to see four incredible, special actors [in the same category]. You would go as far as to say legends, I think. It's incredibly humbling.

Danny Burstein, Best Leading Actor in a Musical (playing "Buddy Plummer"), Follies: I found out about the nomination — my phone starting buzzing at 5:30. I'm in L.A. My phone starting buzzing, but all my messages were like, "I've got my fingers crossed, and I'm going back to bed now." Things like that, and I had no idea what the hell that meant, so of course I ran to my computer, and my computer wouldn't work. [Laughs.] Just crazy. So finally after about two minutes of pounding at my computer and nearly throwing it against the wall, it started to work, and they had, of course, passed my category. But then finally my friend John Schiappa sent me a text that said — in bold, big text letters — "Congratulations," so I figured, "Oh God. Thank God, I got one." That was really nice. I love it. It's the most difficult role I've ever done. And, it's nice to be recognized and thought of in a different way. It's a very difficult dramatic role. These performers are tragic figures, and it's very different from anything I've done before. And, to be nominated for roles like Adolpho in Drowsy Chaperone and Luther Billis, which are really 180 degrees different, is wonderful.

Alex Timbers, Best Director of a Play, Peter and the StarcatcherI was thrilled to get word about the nominations this morning. I missed the telecast but immediately got a raft of texts and emails and facebook messages. Receiving a Tony nomination is akin to having your birthday recognized on Facebook--there's a pile-on of affection from all sides that's exhilarating. The biggest treat of this morning was seeing so many of our collaborators on Peter get nominated for their work. The breadth of nominations really reflects the nature of the process--the show is built by an ensemble of actors and designers working together as equals and each excelling because of it.

Joe DiPietro, Best Book of a Musical, Nice Work If You Can Get It: It's raining, and I was struggling to get the leash on my dog because he saw it was raining and he hates it, and [the nominations] came on the TV. [Laughs.] Wrestling with my dog, and I heard it on the television. I consider myself a comedy writer, and Nice Work If You Can Get It is a big ol' screwball comedy, so to get a nomination for this show, especially having this ridiculously talented cast led by Matthew Broderick — just making these words so funny every night and bringing so much to light every night — it's a childhood thrill for me, I have to say.

Watch the Playbill video of the 2012 Tony Award nomination announcement: