DIVA TALK: Chatting with Ragtime Tony Nominees Christiane Noll and Marcia Milgrom Dodge

News   DIVA TALK: Chatting with Ragtime Tony Nominees Christiane Noll and Marcia Milgrom Dodge
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Christiane Noll, who has been seen on Broadway in Jekyll & Hyde and It Ain't Nothin' But the Blues, picked up her first Tony nomination last week for her performance in the short-lived, but critically acclaimed revival of Ragtime.

Noll said she was in her closet packing when she heard the good news. "I'm singing with Julie Andrews this week," Noll told me the day the nominations were announced, "and so I was pulling out dresses and trying not to wake up my daughter and 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," she laughs.

Noll says she "jumped on [her] husband and gave him a big hug and was kind of quiet but really pleased" when she finally heard the news. "I think, because [Ragtime] had closed [and] just all sorts of things, I had accepted the fact that [the nomination] wasn't going to happen. People have been so supportive and amazing, [with] lots of 'I told you so's' coming in this morning, which is kind of nice. But I really had decided that it wasn't going to happen, so to have it [happen] has just been a real lovely, lovely recognition for me and for everything in the show. I mean, we got seven nominations . . . for a show that is closed! . . . 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."

When asked what the challenge of playing the role of Mother — who takes an emotional and physical journey in the Terrence McNally-Stephen Flaherty-Lynn Ahrens musical — Noll replies, "I don't want to say there wasn't a challenge, [but] it was just a joy, the whole experience. I think the challenge was watching it come to an end. That was the big challenge. And for me, being away from my daughter — having to do an eight-show-a-week project — that was also a huge challenge... She's 15 months old today, and my husband brought her to the theatre as much as we could. I had gotten an apartment during tech and previews, so I could go home between shows, because we live out in New Jersey. So it just was a big process for the whole family. In some strange ways, we were a little relieved when it closed because then I could be home and be Mommy for a little bit. But it was definitely a group effort. I would not have been able to do it without everybody's support because it's a big deal when she's running around!" And, what does a Tony nomination mean to the singing actress? "[This] is something that, as an actor, as a performer, when you're in this business, that's now going to follow me around," Noll says. "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. To be validated for the work that you've done and that you do — I'm very grateful and a little overwhelmed and still, I think, a little stunned. [Laughs.] So I'm just really, really pleased. It's a big deal, and I'm grateful and realize that there are tons of people that strive to be in this very position, so I plan to soak it up and enjoy it for all I can."

Marcia Milgrom Dodge
photo by SneakPeek Photography

Marcia Milgrom Dodge, who was nominated for her direction of the aforementioned revival of Ragtime, which she also directed, was in Los Angeles when the Tony nominations were announced. "I told my husband to call me on the hotel phone," Dodge told me by phone the day the nominations were revealed. "So about 5:45 AM my phone rang, and he was very emotional, and he was like, 'You got it! You got it! You got it!' And I was like, 'Oh, my God! Oh, my God!'," she laughs. "And then we listened to the rest of the nominations, and we were just gobsmacked that [Ragtime] got [six] nominations. You know, it's a little bittersweet because we're not there, and we all felt that we did something really remarkable this season, and to be remembered is just putting us all over the moon. We're just thrilled, and for me personally, this is a dream come true. I would watch the Tonys growing up in Detroit and think, 'One day, maybe it'll be me!'" Dodge, who has directed in regional theatres across the country, says the nomination is especially meaningful to her because it's an "acknowledgement from the Broadway community. I mean, this is not a critic award nomination; this is a peer award nomination, and that's what's so thrilling for me."

When asked what went through her mind when she heard the news of the nomination, Dodge answers, "I just thought about all the regional theatre directors out there who do what I do, and I just really feel that I'm kind of their ambassador, and that I'm going to represent that pursuit, that you never give up your dream — you just really keep going for it.

"Getting it at my age — I just turned 55 last week, and I've been working in the business for 30 years — I feel calm in some strange way. It's not arrogant, it's just that it's an acknowledgement of 30 years of work. Because what was on the stage was an accumulation and an assimilation of all the things that I learned about how to do what I do and be able to tell Ragtime's story using techniques and ideas that I've cultivated over the years in all my work. I feel really calm, I feel really wonderful. . . . I think maybe it's a little unbelievable on some level, but at the same time, I just feel so much love for that production and what we did, and I'm so proud of everybody, every single person that worked on the show. Everybody just worked at the top of their game, and so I think this is just really an acknowledgement for everybody."

Dodge, who was in Los Angeles directing the current Reprise production of How to Succeed…, says she's "doing what I love to do. I'm a working dog. You know, point me into a rehearsal room, and I'm happy. I'm sorry I can't be in New York and be around all the hoopla that's going on there right now because I love to schmooze, but I'll pick up that gauntlet when I come back in about ten days." Well, that's all for now. Happy diva-watching! E-mail questions or comments to agans@playbill.com.

Christiane Noll, Ron Bohmer, Robert Petkoff and Sarah Rosenthal
Christiane Noll, Ron Bohmer, Robert Petkoff and Sarah Rosenthal Photo by Joan Marcus
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