Wednesday morning’s Meet the Tony Nominees press reception took over the Paramount Hotel in Midtown Manhattan.
Print journos crowded into a small first floor restaurant while nominees including LaTanya Richardson Jackson (“A Raisin in the Sun”), Woody Allen (“Bullets Over Broadway”), Mare Winningham and Harvey Fierstein (“Casa Valentina”) rotated through the throngs.
While Jackson was thrilled about her first nomination, she couldn’t quite understand why her co-star Denzel Washington wasn’t also in the room being congratulated.
“Denzel was the first one to call me about the nomination,” Jackson said. “And all I could think was, ‘Really? How can (the show) get five nominations and not one of them is for him?’ His performance is stellar. I’m not sure how that fell through the cracks.’”
Washington, along with a large crop of other movie stars including Daniel Radcliffe (“The Cripple of Inishmaan”) Michelle Williams (“Cabaret”), James Franco (“Of Mice and Men”), Daniel Craig and Rachel Weisz (both in “Betrayal”) and Orlando Bloom (“Romeo and Juliet”), did not claim a spot in this year’s Tony nominations.
Despite the absence of Williams, “Cabaret’s” Danny Burstein was proud to represent the musical, which received two noms in the best performance by an actor (Burstein) and actress (Linda Emond) feature role category. The thesp explained how “Cabaret” directors Sam Mendes and Rob Marshall helped him play Herr Schultz, the Jewish fruit merchant.
“I was coming at (the role) from a more sentimental view,” Burstein said. “The show takes place from 1929 until mid 1930 and the Nazis didn’t take power until 1933. I had to stop learning history, because Herr doesn’t know history, and he is positive that everything will turn out all right. That naïveté and belief in humanity was something I had to hold on to. Rob and Sam taught me how to.”
Chad Beguelin, who received a nom in the original score category for “Aladdin,” admitted that he was genuinely shocked to be at the press event.
“The show has been through such a journey,” Beguelin said. “It’s no secret that (the) Toronto (version of the show) got bad reviews, and everyone cried, drank, panicked and then we went nuts changing everything. So I never expected (a Tony nomination). I thought I was going to get fired.”
Tony-, Oscar- and Pulitzer Prize-winning American playwright John Patrick Shanley, who is nominated in the new play category for “Outside Mullingar,” shared his thoughts on the film vs. theater awards season races.
“After you’ve been down the Oscar trail it’s like, when are we going to get there? At least with the Tonys the time frame is shorter (between nominations and ceremony),” Shanley said. “Some of these movies you are promoting and you know you aren’t going to win. It’s like a French existential exercise.”