In honor of our episode on Awards Season, we asked Broadway actors to share their favorite memories of the fast and furious time between when theatre award nominations are announced and the Tony Awards telecast. Today, we hear from podcast guest Ellyn Marie Marsh, a member of the Tony Award-winning company of Kinky Boots in 2013.
"The morning of the Tony Awards nominations I watched the announcements from my kitchen squealing with each nomination announced and especially so for best show and of course that Stark and Billy were both recognized! Billy had so much attention for the show as Lola is such a tour de force so I was really excited Stark was recognized for his nuanced performance as Charlie Price as well."
"During the weeks leading up to awards night, the Hirschfeld Theatre was electric. Knowing Tony voters would be in the audience every night made our usual 100% just a little more heightened! Knowing our leading men were on their A-game every single moment was really inspiring for the supporting cast. It for sure wasn't a run away year ('Hamiltony's') by any means, all shows were strong and different and magical in their own way. 2013 was Matilda the Musical (which I LOVED), Bring It On: The Musical (which had way too short of the run in my opinion) and A Christmas Story (which I sadly didn't see)."
"During our regular show schedule were extra staging rehearsals as we had to cut 'Everybody Say Yeah' our flashy and exciting end of act one we were going to do on the telecast. Each show is given a certain time frame and if the number is longer than that, it must be cut down. I think we cut a minute or so off the number. So it was funny to rehearse the Tony version during the day and do our regular show at night...thinking caps ON!"
"That week was EXHAUSTING. You have to record the vocals for the number so off we went before a show to MSR studios to record our abridged number. Leads sing live everyone else is pre recorded for the broadcast. In addition, we had staging rehearsals at our theater, camera rehearsal at Radio City, then dress rehearsal at Radio City Music Hall the MORNING OF the Tonys. This day is hilarious. We did hair, make up, wigs and costumes at our theater and then we walked from the Hirschfeld to Radio City - you can imagine how the drag queens stopped traffic in Midtown that day. Dress rehearsal is so fun because we are all there in the house watching each other and cheering each other on. The true spirit and camaraderie of Broadway is one that can't be explained. That day, suffice it to say, tons of nervous energy was pulsing through that historical building. The competition of the evening fades and we all just focus on putting on an exciting show. Once a show performs the next show is in the wings screaming and cheering and high fiving - I never played football but I feel that's what it's like to take the field? (You're welcome for the sports reference)."
"Being on the Tonys backstage isn't very glamorous because you wait in a bus outside the theater until a very strategic time in which you walk through a maze of hallways and elevators till right before you do your number. Coincidentally, the announcement of Tony Awards for Best Musical was right after we performed and Billy Porter had already won his Tony that night. So when he took the stage with us, he was doing Lola as a TONY WINNER (side note his speech is a youtube must watch), we were all so excited for him! We ran off stage knowing that the award for Best Musical was coming next and we waited in the wings all holding hands pretty much not breathing until we heard that we won and we couldn't stop jumping up and down. I believe Marcus Neville has a video of this very instant. All the hard work, long days and nights, changes, cuts, time away from our families all culminated with Berndette's words...Kinky Boots. And just like that-we all got to be a part of musical theater history."
"I had the privilege of performing on the Tonys two times and I consider it one of the highest honors. The memories are so special and so vivid in my mind. The Tony Awards is one of my favorite nights of the year! I love watching the performances knowing what an insanely long week everyone has had, knowing that the pure JOY of what we do is fueling their engines. I also love watching peoples' acceptance speeches and watching their lives change before my eyes. Broadway is so awesome!"