Here are some of the artists receiving special Tony Award honors on Sun., June 10.
Leguizamo has been a regular fixture on Broadway since his first show on the Great White Way: “Freak” earned him Tony nominations for play and performance in 1998. He’s made a specialty out of autobiographically inspired, comic monologues that have touched on everything from his dysfunctional childhood in Queens (“Freak”) to the women who helped him on the road to maturity (“Sexaholix”) to how he forged a Hollywood career (“Ghetto Klown”). He was nominated this year as the creator of best play nominee “Latin History for Morons,” an overview of oft-overlooked Latin people who have played major roles in American history, all framed by the contemporary story of his fraught relationship with his own son.
Win or lose, Leguizamo already knows he’s walking away with a Tony. That’s because he’s also the recipient of one of the evening’s special awards, honoring him for his body of work and, in the words of the Tony administrators, for “bringing diverse stories and audiences to Broadway for three decades.
“I just feel really validated for all my contributions,” Leguizamo says. “Not just for bringing a Latin voice to mainstream, but also because I helped change the one-man-show game. I helped create and pioneer this autobiographical element. Those achievements are huge, and important to me.”
At the Tony ceremony this year, the writer-performer wants to see the awards show shake things up a bit, especially with hosts Sara Bareilles and Josh Groban. “The Tonys gotta let them get a little raucous!” he says.
Broadway legends don’t get much more legendary than Rivera. She broke out as Anita in the original 1957 production of “West Side Story,” created the characters of Rose in “Bye Bye Birdie” (1960) and Velma in “Chicago” (1975), and won Tonys for lead turns in “The Rink” (1984) and “Kiss of the Spider Woman” (1993).
But no one’s ever called her a diva. Rivera has, ever since her first stint on Broadway as a replacement dancer in the first production of “Guys and Dolls” in 1950, thought of herself as part of the chorus. That’s why the Broadway autobiography in which she starred in 2005 was called simply, “Chita Rivera: The Dancer’s Life.”
She seems genuinely, humbly surprised by her latest Tony, coming to her June 10 for lifetime achievement. “Isn’t that something?” she asks. “Never expected anything like that. But I figure if you hang around long enough, good things will happen.”
Rivera recently wrapped up her touring show with her fellow Broadway luminary Tommy Tune in “Chita & Tune: Just in Time,” and she’s got a nightclub act that she performed at Manhattan’s 54 Below in March. She’s got concerts and performances lined up all the way through the start of 2019. But Broadway still beckons to the 85-year-old actress.
“I’m looking forward to doing eight shows a week,” she says with a laugh. “I’m very much ready. That’s what I tell the kids: ‘Be ready.’ I’m still ready.”
Springsteen is not an EGOT, but he’s close.
EGOT, of course, is the acronym shorthand for the big names who have won the four biggest awards in showbiz (including Audrey Hepburn, Mike Nichols, Whoopi Goldberg). The Boss doesn’t have an Emmy yet, but he’s got 23 Grammys, plus that Oscar he won for “Streets of Philadelphia,” his song on the soundtrack of 1993 Tom Hanks drama “Philadelphia.” He’ll have his T as of June 10, when he receives a special Tony Award for “Springsteen on Broadway.”
That show, in which he plays an intimate concert of his greatest hits interspersed with stories drawn from his autobiography, “Born to Run,” has commanded top-dollar ticket prices and shattered box-office records, averaging an astonishing $2.4 million a week from just five shows a week.
Back before “Springsteen on Broadway” opened in October, the Boss explained to Variety the origins of the show: “I had been thinking about doing something that combined the book and music for a while, and I performed it once,” he said. “In the last few weeks of the Obama administration, I played at the White House in the East Room for about 300 people, and I brought this idea down there and it felt really good. I haven’t really played a venue of that size in probably 40 years.”
On Broadway, Springsteen is clearly enjoying the ride: He’s extended his originally scheduled four-month run at the Walter Kerr Theater twice, setting plans to stick around for almost 15 months before the show closes Dec. 15.
ANDREW LLOYD WEBBER
2018 has been a year marked by milestones for Lloyd Webber.
The New York production of the composer’s smash musical “The Phantom of the Opera”— the longest running show in Broadway history — turned 30 in January.
The man himself turned 70 in March, around the time that he released a memoir, “Unmasked,” as well as a double album (“Andrew Lloyd Webber Unmasked: The Platinum Collection”) of his songs sung by big-name stars.
In April, his 1971 rock opera “Jesus Christ Superstar” got a high-profile showcase in the well-received NBC live telecast that starred John Legend.
To top it all off, the composer of many of Broadway’s most enduring and successful titles — including “Cats,” “Evita” and “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” — takes home a lifetime achievement award from the Tonys this year.
“It was always my dream, as a British kid, to have a musical on Broadway,” he said. “To be honored in this way, in the undisputed capital of musical theater is amazing.”
This is far from the last of Lloyd Webber we’ll see on Broadway.
“There is a Broadway project I have in mind, but that’s about as much as I can reveal at the moment,” he says coyly. “One thing’s for sure: I’d open it in New York, as we did with ‘School of Rock.’ There is nothing quite so thrilling as building a show, from the ground up, in New York City — and I can’t wait to do it again.”