Sunday, September 23, 2018
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It’s that time of year again

By: - Columnist
/ 12:10 AM April 12, 2018

Robert De Niro with the author backstage

NEW YORK—Now that April is in full swing, all of us in the theater community are gearing up for one of the most exciting—and very stressful—times of the year. Awards season has officially begun!

For the off-Broadway folks, the Lucille Lortel Awards nominations were recently announced, with the Ars Nova-produced musical “KPOP” leading the way with nine nominations, followed by “Bella: An American Tall Tale” with six, and “The Lucky Ones” with five. For plays, garnering the most nominations was “Mary Jane,” with six nods.


On the full nominations list, I spotted a few friends and colleagues: Camille A. Brown (outstanding choreographer, “Bella: An American Tall Tale”), Terrence Mann (outstanding lead actor in a musical, “Jerry Springer—The Opera”), Lauren Molina and Ashley Park (outstanding lead actress in a musical, “Desperate Measures” and “KPOP,” respectively), and Paolo Montalban, Thom Sesma and Jason Tam (outstanding featured actor in a musical for “Bella: An American Tall Tale,” “Pacific Overtures” and “KPOP,” respectively). To all the nominees, congratulations!

Over the next month and a half, more award-giving bodies (The Drama League, The Outer Critics Circle, The Drama Desk) will announce their lists for both off-Broadway and Broadway plays and musicals, culminating with the Tony Awards, which will announce its nominations on May 1 and give out its awards at Radio City Music Hall on June 10. Additionally, the Theatre World Awards will award its honorees on June 4.

It’s a time of year that I remember very well, having been through this gamut many years ago, when “Miss Saigon” received its share of award love. It was an incredibly exciting time, and I was fortunate that my mother and brother were here to share in the fun with me. My brother was my date at the Tony Awards in 1991 (held at the Minskoff Theater, now home to the long-running Disney musical, “The Lion King”), with our after-party at the now-nonexistent Le Bar Bat.

If and when your show happens to get some nominations, everyone’s schedules get frightfully busy.

There could be additional rehearsals, as well as extra press events to do. Gowns, suits and tuxedos are fitted, which means that stylists start running around sourcing appropriate garb for their clients’ red-carpet looks. You have to get ready to have a really amazing time.

Beyond all the glamour of the evening, the awards nights are when you celebrate with your fellow cast members that your show has received recognition, as well as with the rest of the theater community on another year of triumphant works of art.

Bring everything on—this community is ready!

Meanwhile, back on the “Island”…

At last Sunday’s matinee, word quickly spread that one of the greatest actors of our time was in the audience. His name: Robert De Niro. Accompanying him were his wife Grace, and his children, Elliot and Helen.


What struck me wasn’t so much that they came back to say hi as many other friends of the island have done, but that they were very laid-back and relaxed about it, accommodating every single request from our cast and crew to take a photograph. They didn’t rush, but stayed to chat. And I think little Helen took a shine to our leading man, Isaac Powell (Daniel). This doesn’t surprise me at all as Isaac is a beautiful man.

Thank you again, Mr. De Niro, for coming to visit us with your family. Meeting you was truly a thrill.

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TAGS: Backstory, Broadway, Entertainment, Lucille Lortel Awards, news, Robert De Niro
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