ONSTAGE & BACKSTAGE: Talkin' Tony Noms

News   ONSTAGE & BACKSTAGE: Talkin' Tony Noms
First of all, a problem with dating a guy who is raising a six-year-old daughter is that I have to have food for her in my apartment.

Instead of writing this column while munching on my fiber and flax seed-filled Uncle Sam's cereal, I'm about to eat a big fat bowl of Froot Loops because I bought her a jumbo size last Friday. You may ask, "Why buy a jumbo size when you know she's only staying over on the weekend?," and I may answer something couched in denial. But let it be known, I bought it hoping she would eat a quarter of it and leave the rest for me. Here's the deal, I don't even like Froot Loops, but if it's sitting in my kitchen and there are pretty colors on the outside of the box, I'm in.

Oh, wait! Just remembered I did an emergency midnight run to Fairway last week and bought myself Cinnamon Toast Crunch. I'm gonna ixnay the "Froot Loops" (the spelling of "froot" is whimsical… and mandatory because you can't put the word "fruit" in the title of your food if it only consists of sugar, circles of starchiness and food coloring) and have a delicious bowl of CTC. Oh yeah! That reminds me! Attention message boards: Please stop referencing shows by their acronyms! Who started that madness? In my day, when we wanted a sassy nickname for Phantom of the Opera we shortened it Phantom, and Fiddler on the Roof has always been called Fiddler from Zero Mostel's original production through my high school's critically acclaimed production to the Topol revival in the late eighties. Who changed the rules? I'm not a World War Two trained code breaker who can figure out a panicked theatre board message entitled "New Carlotta fierce in POTO" or "Why no Jews in FOTR?" I've spent way too much time staring at the screen of Talkin' Broadway mumbling "P…what starts with P? Paint Your Wagon?"

All right, let's talk Tony nominations. Yes, I woke up and watched them on NY1. Do you watch the nominations and fantasize what it would feel like to have your name called? Do you tape it, erase the sound and dub in your name? In all categories? If you do, can you tell me the technology you use because the only part I've mastered is taping it?

There were some glaring omissions. Where was Kristin Chenoweth's nomination? She was so funny in The Apple Tree or should I say TAP?

It's kinda fun not having any total shoo-ins. Remember the year the Best Actress race was between Glenn Close and Rebecca Luker. I'm not saying that they were the frontrunners, I'm saying they were the only two nominated! And Glenn hosted. It would have been pretty awkward if she had lost. What if she had left in tears? "Ladies and Gentleman, for the remainder of the Tonys, the role usually played by Glenn Close will be played by…Karen Mason. The roles usually played by Karen Mason will be played by Mary Ann Lamb." Speaking of the Tonys, I interviewed Orfeh for my Sirius radio show. I've been obsessed with her since Saturday Night Fever. She has one of the most unique voices on Broadway. So dark, yet crazily high with great riffs. I used to sub the piano part in the pit of Saturday Night Fever, and I was able to control the earphones I wore. I could choose what levels I wanted the piano, drums, brass, onstage vocals, etc. Suffice to say, during Orfeh's song I had the onstage vocals blasting, during "Night Fever" I opted for the trombone section.

Orfeh got nominated for playing Paulette in Legally Blonde and told me that initially she couldn't get an audition for the role. They searched for a Paulette for a long time, and Orfeh was in the very last group to go in.

This happens all the time. Rebecca Luker told me (if you're reading this, brava on the current Tony nomination!) that her agent said they didn't want to see her for Marion Paroo in The Music Man, but she begged him to get her an audition anyway. Of course, she wound up getting the part and getting a Tony nomination. Thank goodness she pushed. Also, Terrence Mann wanted to play Javert in Les Miz, but they would only see him for the role of Enjolras. He told me at a Chatterbox that he gave in and went to the audition for Enjolras, but wore all black, slicked his hair back and sang a serious, heavy song. Terry said that during his audition, he saw the composer behind the table look at the person next to him and mouth "Enjolras?" while shaking his head. Then he pointed to Terry's picture, nodded and mouthed, "Javert"! Terry got the part and a Tony nomination. Actors take note: If you feel that you're right for a role, push until you get an audition. You'll probably get the part and get a Tony nomination — or be blacklisted from every major casting director's rolodex.

Wednesday was a day of panic. I really wanted a Tony nominee for my Thursday Chatterbox but kept putting off calling anybody because I knew everybody'd be so busy. I decided to call Legally Blonde's Laura Bell Bundy at 1:45 before the Wednesday matinee and had my whole schmooze pre-planned to leave on her cell phone. Well, instead a message I got a high-pitched "Hello?"! I was flummoxed and said, "Why are you answering the phone instead of getting into a fierce lace front wig?!" Instead of hanging up, she graciously agreed to do the interview, and she was adorable. She has such a great personality, and although we differ in age (Let's just say May-December . . . of the following year), we both have reflux! I asked her why reflux seems to be so prevalent now, and she thinks it's because of Starbucks coffee. It is crazily strong. I have to pour a ton of half-and-half into my Tall half caf just to change it from black to black-ish.

Laura Bell also talked about doing the Off-Broadway musical Ruthless when she was a kid, and her understudies were Natalie Portman and Britney Spears. That's a lot of star power sitting backstage and being bitter. Laura Bell assured that they were "super nice and not bitter," and I assured her that the Brooklyn Bridge is for sale. She also said that she turned down two pilots to do Legally Blonde, and I say brava! I love someone who puts Broadway above TV. It seems that so many people do Broadway just to get to TV. To do what, I ask? An amazing episode of "Two Guys, a Girl and a Pizza Place"?

This weekend I saw Deuce with my mother. The whole time I kept looking at Angela Lansbury thinking, "She used to sing 'Open a New Window' eight times a week. So cool!" It was pretty amazing to see her with Marian Seldes. There's a moment in the show where Michael Mulheren references them and says we won't see women like this again. It seemed like such an homage to their talent and history that I immediately started crying. And then tried to mask it because I knew my mother would be mad at me for not carrying around those portable Kleenex tissue packets.

OK, one more bowl of Cinnamon Toast Crunch. As the "hilarious" refrigerator magnet says, "My Diet Starts Tomorrow."

* (Seth Rudetsky is the host of "Seth's Big Fat Broadway" on SIRIUS Satellite Radio and the author of "The Q Guide to Broadway." He has played piano in the orchestras of 15 Broadway musicals, and he can be contacted by visiting www.sethsbroadwaychatterbox.com.)

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Marian Seldes and Angela Lansbury in <i>Deuce</i>.
Marian Seldes and Angela Lansbury in Deuce. Photo by Joan Marcus
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