Tony hopefuls await verdict

Nominees, presenters walk the red carpet

Bruce Sabath, Kelly Jeanne Grant and the rest of the cast of “Company” stood on the red carpet and cooed the opening strains of Stephen Sondheim’s triple-nominated musical with a minor switch: They changed the name of Raul Esparza’s character “Bobby.”

“Tony,” they sang. “Tony, Tony, Tony.”

The nominees and presenters at “The 60th Annual Tony Awards” were a mix of stars from film, TV and Broadway — Zach Braff, Eddie Izzard, Claire Danes, Idina Menzel, Brian Dennehy, Bernadette Peters — and those, like presenter Robert Sean Leonard, who wish they could do it all.

“I don’t really have a break from (Fox drama) ‘House,’ ” said Leonard. “It’s great to be in a show people like, but I’d really like to go back to the stage.”

Actress in a musical nominee Laura Bell Bundy, by contrast, said that she “always wants to come back and do theater,” but that she was looking forward to film and television work as well. “I’m a writer,” she said, “and I want to produce.”

Esparza, a nominee for actor in a musical, felt differently. “There’s been a lot of talk about doing film and TV stuff,” he said, “but this is home. The theater is where I belong. And I don’t want to live anywhere but New York.”

Julie White said that she made time between 2002 and ’05 to “go back to New York and do plays”; now she has a Tony nomination to show for it. White noted that she hadn’t expected the honor for her play “The Little Dog Laughed,” one of a number of Broadway transfers from Off Broadway theaters.

Patrick Wilson, who introduced “Grey Gardens,” said of the art show/commercial show mix, “I love it. It’s always great to see the commercial response to good work.”

“Spring Awakening” scribe Steven Sater agreed, noting that he wanted to turn Frank Wedekind’s 19th century drama into “a story that would appeal to kids.”

Some of the actors in “Spring Awakening” were considerably younger than the average nominee; 16-year-old Jennifer Damiano still juggles high school and the show, which garnered 11 nominations.

Tom Stoppard noted that “Rock ‘n’ Roll” would be uncut from the London version when it succeeds the 10-time nominee “The Coast of Utopia” on Broadway next year.

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