We are happy to welcome guest celebrity blogger Stephen Kunken, a 2010 Tony nominee for his performance in the recent drama Enron. Kunken, who has also been seen on Broadway in Rock 'n' Roll, Frost/Nixon, Festen and Proof, will blog for Playbill.com all week; his first entry follows:
New Dramatists is truly an amazing group; an incubator and support system for great new voices in the theater since 1949. Yesterday's luncheon honoring Julie Taymor was a testament to their reach and impact within our community. The Marriott Marquis was awash with playwrights, actors, directors, choreographers, producers and other theater/film professionals.
It was a disgusting day outside, so after shedding the coat and umbrella and making it through the phalanx of press feeling a little like a wet dog, I headed into the ballroom to find my table. You know that moment when you arrive as a single at a wedding and you walk to your table hoping you know at least one person...and that the one person isn't an "ex"? Well, I made my way across the room with that same hope and trepidation. What a relief to find myself seated next to my fellow nominee and excellent guy David Alan Grier. It's great to sit and talk with someone going through the same thrilling and out-of-body honor that is Tony Season.
After a grapefruit salad, wine, and the opening remarks from the dais, Jim Dale introduced the special guests in the hall. It was a veritable who's
who of the American Theater. After your name was called you stood, waited for the spot operator to pick you out, acknowledge the applause and then sit
down. I'm certain everyone in that room felt as I did as they stood and realized that they were considered a thread in the fabric of that incredible quilt of talent. That may be the most flowery, over-written sentence ever committed to the Playbill blog. Sorry blog readers. But it really was a little like hearing them call the roll for the men's U.S. basketball "Dream" team. I kept thinking...wow, if the doors closed on this room and we were stuck in here for a while...can you imagine (a) the fights for the Spiderman-shaped chocolate cake and (b) the incredible theater that would emerge. Now I'm pretty sure that's something Michael Jordan never thought?
After the introductions the event turned to honoring Julie. That is a supremely talented artist. I think the playwright Glen Berger summed it up most eloquently when he described an artist's inspiration as having to walk outside and "drop one's bucket into the well of inspiration" whereas Julie had "indoor plumbing and a tap." Watching the retrospective of her work was astonishing. What an unbelievable career and imagination. I found myself feeling so inspired to "create" that I began molding my bread stick and butter pat into a giraffe.
We were also treated to a sneak peak of the "Tempest," which looks amazing. Helen Mirren as Prospera is reason enough, but it truly looks visually astonishing. There were a lot of amazing toasts made from the dais, particularly by Thomas Schumacher, who told the story behind bringing "The Lion King" to the stage and his excitement about the forthcoming Spider Man musical. To that end, the band "Carney" played a very catchy tune from the show. I have to admit I was hoping when I saw the drum kit on stage when I walked into the hall that Bono and the Edge might show, but alas...that is a dream deferred.