Gentleman's Guide Tony Nominee Lauren Worsham Shares Her Big News and Bonds with a Stranger on the Subway
By Michael Gioia
Last week, Lauren Worsham — a 2014 Tony Award nominee for her performance as Phoebe D'Ysquith in A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder — experienced one of the most nerve-wracking days of her life. Like most, she de-stressed from the Tony nominations by having a long conversation with a friend — whom she met that night on the subway.
"I sat next to this very drunk, maybe homeless guy on the train last night, but he was exactly what I needed because I needed to process it," Worsham explained to Playbill.com at the April 30 Tony Award nominees press junket. "I was reading Bon Appétit, and he looked over, and he said, 'Oh, that looks good.'"
A fast friendship formed between Worsham — the opera-turned-musical-theatre star, who took on her first big Broadway role in this season's critically acclaimed new musical — and the subway rider. After some back-and-forth banter (about work, fun and daily stresses), "I kind of confessed to this guy randomly," she confided.
That morning, while she was sleeping, Worsham was nominated for Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical in a season filled with standout performances from both featured and leading ladies. Aside from her husband, who broke the big news, Worsham hadn't discussed her nomination with anyone until her train ride home.
"I said [to him], 'You know what, I was a little stressed today because I got nominated for a Tony Award,'" she confessed with a laugh. "He was like, 'What?! Really?' I said, 'Yeah, do you know what those are?' And, he was like, 'Yeah, yeah, yeah…for singing.' And then he sang to me for a while. He was listening to R. Kelly, and he shared his headphones with me. We listened to R. Kelly for a while. He told me all about his wife — he's been married 30 years."
Worsham admitted to being asleep on purpose the morning of April 29, when the Tony nominations were announced. The actress, who is making her official Broadway debut in Gentleman's Guide — having only understudied in The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee — said that her journey to Broadway has been quite a ride.
"Honestly, before this show, I had always wanted to do musical theatre growing up, but I didn't think that musical theatre really wanted me very much. Specifically, I didn't think that I was cut out for Broadway or Broadway was interested," she said. "I had auditioned for a bunch of shows and never gotten cast. I had started doing more opera and new music, and I really found a family there and a home, and I thought that's the direction I was going, and then this show came along. It changed everything.
"[When] I told him that I'd been nominated for a Tony, he was like, 'Girl, you just got to be yourself. You just got to be yourself. You're lucky. You're a lucky person. Be yourself. God is good.' And, I [thought], 'You know what? You're right,' so that was very helpful. But the point is: Be yourself because you were made the way you were for a reason. Be exactly who you are, and that's perfect because that's who you are."
As for her newfound friendship, she said, "It made my night."
(Playbill.com staff writer Michael Gioia's work appears in the news, feature and video sections of Playbill.com as well as in the pages of Playbill magazine. Follow him on Twitter at @PlaybillMichael.)
PHOTO EXCLUSIVE: A Killer Two-Show Day at A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder with Tony Nominee Lauren Worsham
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