The Latest: Ethan Slater explains his lapel pin at the Tonys
Jun. 10, 2018
NEW YORK (AP) — The Latest on the Tony Awards (all times local):
Broadway's SpongeBob, Ethan Slater, has walked the red carpet with a ribbon supporting the American Civil Liberties Union pinned to one lapel.
He says the organization is "incredibly important to our country" when it comes to guarding civil liberties. He called his show "aligned with the values of the ACLU."
How exactly? Well, in terms of diversity, for one.
The "SpongeBob SquarePants" musical includes Sandy the squirrel, a scapegoat for Bikini Bottom's problems who is targeted for banishment.
Slater calls the story line "really relevant to the Muslim ban" in the United States and the way he says that "Muslim-Americans have been treated."
Composer Andrew Lloyd Webber has no problem with nerves as he heads into the Tony Awards. His accolade to come once inside is all sewn up as an honorary tribute.
The musical theater legend says the feeling is wonderful: "I don't have to worry about it." He says all he has to do is "just go and get it."
Webber says this season on Broadway is exciting, in particular amid musicals with many fine new writers. He also praised the night's co-host, Sara Bareilles, for her work in the recently televised rock opera he co-created back in 1970, "Jesus Christ Superstar."
Webber describes Bareilles as an "extraordinary actress," especially through music.
Andrew Garfield says the social message of "Angels in America" is a huge part of why he agreed to star as Pryor Walter.
The nominee says on the Tony red carpet that he doesn't want to "tell a story unless it has the potential to change people."
The British actor says the eight-hour play is as relevant today as it was 25 years ago, when Tony Kushner first staged it and won a Pulitzer Prize for his trouble.
Garfield says theater must be political and mirror the times we're in. Otherwise, he says, "we're wasting everyone's time."
Josh Groban is promising "a really fun" Tony Awards.
Says the first-time co-host: "I feel really excited about the show we have ready for everybody tonight." He says it's been a fun season and he called co-host Sara Bareilles "brilliant."
He says the chance to collaborate and bounce ideas off her has been "nothing less than a dream come true."
He adds "We're just going to go out and be ourselves." Groban promises the show will be a combination of slick and two musical theater geeks being "total weirdos."
For her part, Bareilles says she "just wants to stay present." She added that her job is to make sure everyone else is having a good time, saying "that's the goal — people pleasing."
Cynthia Erivo and Brian Tyree Henry say the theater is a perfect place to deal with social issues.
Says Henry, who is nominated for his work in "Lobby Hero": "It's happening right in front of your face." He adds that something about the stage encourages tough issues to be worked on by strangers.
He says the cast and audience of a show go on a ride together and hopefully it creates a platform for discussion.
Erivo, winner of the best actress in a musical award for her work in "The Color Purple" in 2016, agreed: "People can see themselves live." She says theater gives people a chance to express themselves freely.
John Leguizamo adds there are no "gatekeepers" in theater, which allows many points of view to emerge.
"Frozen" songwriters Robert Lopez and his wife, Kristen Anderson-Lopez, walked the red carpet at the Tony Awards on Sunday for the first time as equal nominees.
Robert Lopez co-conceived and co-wrote the smash-hit musicals "Avenue Q" and "The Book of Mormon," both earning him Tony Awards. "Frozen" marks Kristen Anderson-Lopez's first nomination.
"I'm so proud of her," her husband said. "She's been here before as my plus-one." His advice to her was "enjoy this thing." It might be scary, but he calls it like a "prom."
Anderson-Lopez acknowledged she was going to be nervous for the cast of "Frozen" and suspected that she would share their butterflies. Joked her husband: "She'll be mouthing every word along with them."
The Tony Awards dress rehearsal — normally with few actual stars in attendance — got a shock of A-listers this year, including Tina Fey, Kelli O'Hara, Andrew Lloyd Webber, John Leguizamo, Tituss Burgess — and Bruce Springsteen.
The four-hour rehearsal at Radio City Music Hall allows producers to go through the show from start to finish before the Sunday telecast. Usually, stand-ins are used for Hollywood presenters, who prefer to hit the snooze button.
But the audience this time cheered loudly when Patti Lupone, Uzo Aduba, Ming-Na Wen, Melissa Benoist, Tatiana Maslany, Christopher Jackson, James Monroe Iglehart and Rachel Brosnahan showed up in the flesh.
The highlight was Springsteen, who walked onstage in a T-shirt and jeans, performed one song on the piano from his sold-out one-man show and departed to a standing ovation.
The Tony Awards kick off on Sunday night with a pair of first-time hosts, no clear juggernaut like "Hamilton" to cheer for, but a likely assist by Bruce Springsteen.
Josh Groban and Sara Bareilles face their biggest audience yet and a careful political balancing act when they co-host the CBS telecast from the massive 6,000-seat Radio City Music Hall.
Getting buzz from appearing on the telecast can dictate a show's future, both on Broadway and on tour. Broadway producers will be thankful this year that the telecast won't compete with any NBA Finals or Stanley Cup playoff games.