Hudson Valley actors score major Tony nods
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The Hudson Valley is well represented among the 2012 Tony Award nominees, announced Tuesday morning. Nominees with Westchester connections include Audra McDonald, Alan Menken, Danny Burstein and Kelli O'Hara. Dutchess County resident James Earl Jones also received a nod.
McDonald, who has lived in Croton for 11 years, was nominated for best leading actress in a musical for her work in "The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess," her third nod in the lead category and her seventh nomination overall. One of her fellow nominees in the category is O'Hara, who owns a home in northern Westchester; her fourth nomination is for her performance in "Nice Work If You Can Get It." Rounding out the category are Jan Maxwell for "Follies," Cristin Milioti for "Once" and Laura Osnes "Bonnie & Clyde."
McDonald said she is "very grateful, excited and honored" for her latest nomination. "The company has a poured so much heart and soul, and blood, sweat and tears, into the production," she added. "To have it be recognized by the committee is humbling. We don't do it for the awards, but it is nice to be recognized."
She has already been in touch with the cast and crew of the musical, including exchanging text messages with fellow nominee Norm Lewis, who received a best actor nod.
McDonald laughed when asked about how she would celebrate her nomination. "I have a show tonight. I woke up at 6:15 to take my daughter to school. I have to walk the dog and finish the laundry that I started last night," she said, adding that she was looking forward to celebrating with the cast and crew at tonight's show.
Like McDonald, O'Hara expressed gratitude for the nominations honoring her and especially the show. "This is one of those kind of shows that's like 'the little engine that could.' We were all so pleased that the audiences were loving it so much, and to have this on top of it is just a huge, special bonus."
She noted that her role in "Nice Work If You Can Get It" is different from roles she has been nominated for in the past. "[The show] is a straight up comedy, which I haven't done a lot of. It's strangely easier than anything I've ever done. I almost feel like this is too easy."
Because she finds the role so fun to perform, O'Hara said she has no expectations of winning. "It's not a heavy load," she said, comparing her part with the more dramatic roles up for nomination. "I feel like this is going to be one of those fun, enjoyable seasons. I won't be writing any speeches, in other words."
New Rochelle native Menken, who now lives in northern Westchester, received a nod for best original score for "Newsies," the fourth Tony nomination of his career. Menken also wrote the score for "Leap of Faith," which is nominated for best musical. While he has been awarded eight Oscars for his musical contributions to popular Disney films, he has yet to win Broadway's most distinguished prize. He said he was "thrilled" about both nominations. "It's been a unique and interesting season for me," he said. "The headline for me is I love both of the shows. I love the people I work with. I'm thrilled to be recognized. For me, the true reward is the relationships."
Pawling resident Jones was nominated for best leading actor in a play for his work in "Gore Vidal's The Best Man." He has won two previous Tony Awards for his work in "The Great White Hope" (1969) and "Fences" (1987).
Burstein, who was born in Mount Kisco, rounds out the area nominees. He scored his third Tony nomination in six years, this time for best lead actor in a musical for "Follies." The actor called his latest nomination "lovely," and added that "it's sweeter every time." He is currently in tech rehearsal for the Los Angeles premiere of "Follies." When asked how he planned to celebrate, he said, "I'll be working my tail off, and, I wouldn't have it any other way."
The Tony Awards will be broadcast on CBS in a live three-hour ceremony from the Beacon Theatre on June 10. Neil Patrick Harris, the star of "How I Met Your Mother," will be the host for the third time.