It's every Broadway fan's dream come true. You've seen the shows, heard the music, and maybe even huddled up in the cold outside the stage door for what feels like an eternity, hoping to snag a quick autograph. And now you're being asked to come to a gorgeous hotel on a brisk May morning with a notebook in your hand and butterflies in your stomach, ready to meet these living inspirations.
So...from one mega-fan to another, allow me to walk you through my day.
7:30 am - I arrive at Paramount Hotel for the media call time
The official interview circuit doesn't start until 9:00 am (for online outlets, it was really closer to 10:30 am) but it's always good to arrive early just to get your notes in order. Not to mention, the more time I had to soak up this Tony-filled day, the better!
(Our official Show-Score placard, marking my seat!)
8:00 am - Breakfast time!
In case you were ever wondering what theater journalists snack on, the answer is croissants and fruit plates. I snap a pic of my immediate view: across from me is an empty couch, informally reserved for the nominees to sit on when they're being interviewed. The setup of the room is designed to flow seamlessly; nominees and publicists will enter and make their rounds through the suite to where various media outlets are stationed.
(You can't tell from this picture because I brightened it up, but the lighting was very dim and nightclub-esque!)
8:00 - 10:00 am - Meeting and mingling with other journalists:
Before the talent arrives, the room is buzzing with dozens of writers and reporters. Little pockets of the room discuss the nominations and their favorite shows of the season. It's like an online theater message board come to life, minus (most) of the snark!
10:30 am - My first interview of the day!
I score my first interview of the day, "Shuffle Along"'s Best Featured Actor Nominee, Brandon Victor Dixon. We chat about his favorite fan encounters and which fellow actors he loves to support (an interview you'll soon find on this very blog), and he even took a pic with me. Talking to actors might sound intimidating, but it feels just like chatting with a fellow theater lover: super comfortable and super fun.
I speak to Ken Davenport (producer) and DJ Kurs (artistic director) with Deaf West's "Spring Awakening", and they share some incredible insight into the impact that the revival has had on the Deaf Community. Later, Joe Mantello, director of "The Humans", tells me a story about a vomiting audience member! (Let's hope it wasn't a Show-Scorer...)
11:45 am - Meeting the legend himself, Sheldon Harnick
I'm able to snag a few minutes with Special Lifetime Achievement Tony winner Sheldon Harnick, and it's pure magic. My great aunt played Fruma-Sarah in the original cast of "Fiddler on the Roof", so to meet the man who wrote the lyrics that she sang was nothing short of incredible. He tells me that the greatest audience he ever had for "Fiddler" was comprised entirely of Catholic priests and nuns, who "responded to the show with such enthusiasm."
12:00 pm - The gorgeous Laura Benanti makes a brief pre-matinee appearance to talk about her book
She can't talk for long, because she's got a matinee performance of "She Loves Me" to get to! But she does share some info on her new book:
12:10 pm - Overheard from a publicist: "We'd love to take one more question! But we gotta go, he's got a show to perform."
12:15 pm - I meet the director of "Hamilton", and interview "Disaster!"'s Jennifer Simard
Thomas Kail tells me what the single-greatest fan response to Hamilton has been (check back next week to find out what it is!) and Jennifer Simard gushes about her love for The Walking Dead, Breaking Bad, House of Cards, and more!
12:20 pm - Fun fact: I was standing 3 feet away from Jonathan Groff when this happened:
12:30 pm - Daveed Diggs arrives!
He is wearing an amazingly ornate shirt with crosshatch patterns and gold appliqué, and takes a handful of questions from a group of journalists (me included). He talks about how much of his own personality appears in the characters he plays in "Hamilton," and how much he enjoys interacting with the audience while onstage (stay tuned for the full interview later on the blog!)
12:45 pm - And here's Daveed Diggs saying "Bonjour." You're welcome.
1:00 pm - Closing time!
As 1pm approaches, the event starts winding down as the last remaining nominees head out to their matinees/daily lives. It was an incredible experience, both as a journalist and a fan, and being able to really meet and talk to these talented people made me even more excited about the outcome of the 2016 Tony Awards.
The only problem? Now I'm rooting for everyone to win!