Tonys Latest: Lauren Patten wins as musical featured actress
The Latest on the Tony Awards (all times local):
Lauren Patten has edged out her co-stars from “Jagged Little Pill” to win the award for best featured actress in a musical.
The show plumbs Alanis Morissette’s 1995 breakthrough album to tell a fictional story of a family spiraling out of control. Patten plays teenage lesbian Jo in the show and gets to belt out the song “You Oughta Know.”
After opening in New York, “Jagged Little Pill” producers have apologized to fans for changing Jo from gender-nonconforming to cisgender female after the show moved from Boston to Broadway.
Growing up in Downers Grove, Illinois, Patten was drawn to the performing arts early on, and by age 4, had begun appearing in commercials and community theater productions. Patten, who has been on Broadway before in “Fun Home,” has a recurring role on the CBS crime drama “Blue Bloods.”
For the Tony, she beat out Kathryn Gallagher and Celia Rose Gooding from “Jagged Little Pill,” Robyn Hurder from “Moulin Rouge! The Musical” and Myra Lucretia Taylor of “Tina — The Tina Turner Musical.”
MORE ON THE TONYS
— Tonys: Broadway hopes to razzle-dazzle its way out pandemic
— Tonywatch: Aaron Tveit rides a roller coaster of a year
HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:
Broadway favorite Danny Burstein has won his first Tony Award after seven nominations.
The actor won for best actor in a featured role in a musical for playing the ingratiating nightclub host Harold Zidler in “Moulin Rouge! The Musical.”
He said he shared the award with his fellow nominees and thanked his son. He also thanks the Broadway community for supporting him when his wife died. “I love being an actor on Broadway.”
Broadway audiences have cheered Burstein for his soulful showmanship in such musicals as “South Pacific,” “Golden Boy,” “Follies,” “The Drowsy Chaperone,” “Cabaret” and “Fiddler on the Roof.”
He made his Broadway debut in 1992 in “A Little Hotel on the Side” and went on to star in dramas like “The Seagull” to musical comedies like “Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown.”
Shortly after the Broadway shutdown in March 2020, he was hospitalized with a near-fatal case of COVID-19. And in that December, his wife of 20 years, Broadway leading lady Rebecca Luker, died from ALS.
Theater veteran Lois Smith has won her first Tony for “The Inheritance.”
She won for best performance by an actress in a featured role in a play. Smith previously earned nominations for “The Grapes of Wrath” in 1990 and “Buried Child” in 1996.
In “The Inheritance,” Smith plays a major featured role that doesn’t appear onstage until late in the play’s two-show, seven-hour running time. Matthew Lopez’s epic uses “Howards End” as a starting point for a play that looks at gay life in the early 21st century.
Smith has acted in such movies as “East of Eden,” “Five Easy Pieces” and “Lady Bird.” TV audiences will recognize her from appearances on “Route 66,” “ER” or “True Blood.” She made her Broadway debut in 1952 in “Time Out for Ginger.”
Other films credits include “Black Widow,” “Falling Down,” “Fried Green Tomatoes,” “Twister,” “How to Make an American Quilt,” “Dead Man Walking,” ”Minority Report,” “Marjorie Prime” and “Ladybird.”
David Alan Grier has won his first Tony for “A Soldier’s Play.”
Grier played a stern Army sergeant in Charles Fuller’s play, set on an Army base in Louisiana during World War II. A Black investigator has been called to find out who murdered the black sergeant of an all-Black company.
He thanked his director, Kenny Leon. “And to my other nominees: Tough bananas, I won.”
One of Grier’s earliest roles was in a small part in the off-Broadway debut of “A Soldier’s Play” when he was in his 20s. He revisited the work when it was turned into a 1984 movie. This is his third bite of the apple and it has yielded the Tony for best performance by an actor in a featured role in a play.
Grier studied acting at Yale and has had a career on stage (“Dreamgirls”), on TV (“In Living Color” and “DAG”) and film (“Jumanji” and “Native Son”). He previously earned Tony nominations for “The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess,” “The First” and “Race.”
For the Tony, Grier beat Ato Blankson-Wood and James Cusati-Moyer from “Slave Play” and John Benjamin Hickey and Paul Hilton of “The Inheritance.”
The pandemic-delayed Tony Awards kicked off Sunday with an energetic performance of “You Can’t Stop The Beat” from the original Broadway cast of “Hairspray!”
The optimistic number was performed for masked and appreciative audience at a packed Winter Garden Theatre. Host Audra McDonald got a standing ovation. “You can’t stop the beat. The heart of New York City!” she said.
She called it less than a prom and more like a homecoming and that it was wonderful to see half everyone’s faces. She said Broadway had been knocked out by COVID-19 for 560 nights. She also hoped to see actions that could make it a more equitable place.
David Alan Grier was the night’s first winner, taking home the featured actor in a play Tony for “A Soldier’s Play.”
The red carpet for the Tony Awards is underway and stars are praising the return of live theater.
David Byrne, the Talking Heads frontman whose musical “American Utopia” is among Sunday’s honorees, says he’s started going to shows as a spectator and it’s “amazing feeling.
“The audiences are overjoyed,” Byrne says. “They’re happy to see the shows, but they’re happy to just see one another, to be in the same room with other people. It’s really exciting.”
Leslie Odom Jr., who became a household name playing Aaron Burr in the original “Hamilton” run, is hosting a special tribute to Broadway that’s airing on CBS Sunday night. He says he’s confident that people will appreciate theater and its performers more now that the they’ve returned.
“I think we’re going to return with a new sense of gratitude,” Odom says.
“Jagged Little Pill” goes into the Tony Awards telecast on the defensive, dogged by two controversies.
A former cast member, Nora Schell, a Black nonbinary actor who made their Broadway debut in the chorus in 2019, posted a statement this week on social media describing repeated instances early in the run of the show in which they were “intimidated, coerced, and forced by multiple higher ups to put off critical and necessary surgery to remove growths from my vagina that were making me anemic.”
“Jagged Little Pill” producers — saying they are “deeply troubled” by the claims — have hired an independent investigator and the union Actors Equity Association said Sunday it was also commissioning “a thorough, independent investigation” of the show’s workplace.
In another controversy, the show’s producers have apologized to fans for changing a character from gender-nonconforming to cisgender female after the show moved from Boston to Broadway.
The Oscars, Grammys, Emmys and Golden Globes have all held their ceremonies during the pandemic. Now it’s time for the Tony Awards, celebrating an art form that really needs the boost — live theater.
Sunday’s show has been expanded from its typical three hours to four, with Audra McDonald handing out Tonys for the first two hours and Leslie Odom Jr. hosting a “Broadway’s Back!” celebration for the second half, including the awarding of the top three trophies — best play revival, best play and best musical.
The sobering musical “Jagged Little Pill,” which plumbs Alanis Morissette’s 1995 breakthrough album to tell a story of an American family spiraling out of control, goes into the night with a leading 15 Tony nominations.
Nipping on its heels is “Moulin Rouge!,” a jukebox adaptation of Baz Luhrmann’s hyperactive 2001 movie about the goings-on in a turn-of-the-century Parisian nightclub that has 14 nods.
“Slave Play,” Jeremy O. Harris’ ground-breaking, bracing work that mixes race, sex, taboo desires and class, earned a dozen nominations, making it the most nominated play in Tony history.