Billboard was on the red carpet catching up with the Tony Award nominees and presenters on the red carpet, and from Grammy winners to country recording artists to Broadway stars, we got the scoop of what’s going on around town.
10. It’s a Smash! Tony nominee Brian d’Arcy James revealed that he’ll be participating in the highly-anticipated Bombshell concert on June 8, which will celebrate the musical within the short-lived series Smash. “I am going to sing in it,” d’Arcy James told Billboard. “I’m singing the song I sang at the piano [in the series]. It was a precursor to me discovering my wife’s [played by Debra Messing] infidelity.” The song is called “The Right Regrets” and it’s written by Marc Shaiman and Scott Whitman. “Those songs are great,” he added. “Hearing that music played live with a full orchestra is amazing.”
9. Grammy winner on Broadway. The writers of Something Rotten! also got their start in the recording industry with Grammy winner Wayne Kirkpatrick and his brother Karey Kirkpatrick, who also co-wrote the book. “It’s a completely different experience,” Wayne Kirkpatrick said of coming to Broadway. “We started off in theater in high school. So in some ways, it’s a full circle moment coming back around to our roots.” In addition to inspiration from great songwriting teams like Rodgers and Hammerstein and Kander and Ebb, the Kirkpatricks admitted that they took some notes from modern music as well. “It’s fun to be in this genre and be able to bring pop music into musical theater,” Karey Kirkpatrick added, citing Queen and Michael Jackson as some.
8. Roles for girls. Before she won the Tony Award for composing Fun Home, Jeanine Tesori told Billboard on the red carpet that women need to see other women as trailblazers. “For girls, you have to see it to be it,” she said. And 11-year-old Sydney Lucas who plays a young girl coming to terms with her identity and her budding sexuality in the musical, based on Alison Bechdel’s graphic memoire, she wants her Tony performance of “Ring of Keys” to be a message for people. “People need to be allowed to be who they actually are,” she said. “They can’t be who somebody else wants them to be. I don’t know why people care about, ‘Oh no, you can’t like this person.’ I don’t understand because I don’t know what hurts someone else if a person likes somebody. How is it gonna hurt you? Just let them be who they want to be.”
7. Where do dancers find work? So You Think You Can Dance judge and American Idol producer Nigel Lythgoe stopped to talk with Billboard on the red carpet about his Broadway producing debut with On the Town, and he said that Broadway is a great venue for alums of the series. “Since we started So You Think You Can Dance the standard of dance I’ve witnessed all over America is really good,” he said. “It’s so nice that dancers are being given the opportunity of their names being known. It’s not like American Idol where they get a million dollar contract; they’re lucky if they get a job.” He noted that many alums are currently working on Broadway, including in Finding Neverland and On the Town.
6. The Brits want to be more American. Dame Hilary Mantel is the author of the book Wolf Hall, a Tony-nominated play in two parts on Broadway. But while Brits Helen Mirren, Ruth Wilson, Alex Sharp, Carey Mulligan, and more were all among nominees this year, Mantel says they don’t have a club. “We come here to be steeped in the American experience, not to huddle together,” she says.
5. Sit on the edge of your seat with George Takei. The Star Trek alum is going to make his Broadway debut this fall in Allegiance, a show about the Japanese Internment. However, he took some notes from his co-star and Broadway pro Lea Salonga. “There’s a song I sing seated and I told Lea Salonga I can’t breathe when I’m seated,” Takei said. “I like to sing standing and she said sit on the edge of the seat then you have more breath control.” He also went on to praise his show’s composer lyricist Jay Kuo. “Every period of American musical theater has been defined by one composer lyricist. The age of Jay Kuo is coming up.”
4. Neverland’s Tony Snub. The biggest news this Tony season, aside from anything about the actual nominees, was about the shutout for producer Harvey Weinstein’s musical juggernaut Finding Neverland. “Nobody’s really laughing — everybody was quite hurt that we didn’t get nominated for a Tony,” the show’s star Kelsey Grammer said on the red carpet. “But seats at this show can be filled for the next 30 years.”
3. Can a play have an album? The new play Hand to God has a bit of singing in it — by a demonic hand puppet named Tyrone. “We should do a soundtrack!” Tony nominee Sarah Stiles from the play said. And Steven Boyer, who plays the young distraught boy with the hand puppet, joked that a competitive singing future might be in store for Tyrone. “Tyrone I think is going to be on The Voice next year,” Boyer joked, adding that he’d sing “I Can’t Make You Love Me” for his audition. “If they don’t turn around, then shit’s going down.”
2. “Pinot Noir” is all the rage on Broadway. Tony winner James Monroe Iglehart, who won last year for playing the Genie in Aladdin, guested on The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt as competition for the show’s star Titus Burgess. “We’ve been friends for so many years and we’ve never auditioned for the same thing!!” he said, adding that he and his cast could not get enough of the show’s signature musical moment about a certain red wine. “We played that bad boy over and over again and we texted him and bothered him so much. He was sick of us,” says Iglehart. “Most people think he’s doing that for TV, that’s real.”
1. Broadway goes country. Broadway star and recording artist Laura Bell Bundy, last seen as Elle Woods in Legally Blonde The Musical, chatted with Billboard about her album Another Piece of Me, which will have a digital release from Big Machine Records on Tuesday, June 9. “It’s my most personal record yet,” she said, adding that she was there to support her Legally Blonde co-stars Annaleigh Ashford and Christian Borle who both won Tonys that evening. “It’s a journey through the road of my head and heart. I”m talking about some more important issues to me.”
— Ashley Lee contributed to this report