The 2015 Tony Awards nominations came out this morning, and one group of Knoxvillians was keenly interested in them. It was the 20 folks who went to New York City this past weekend led by the Clarence Brown Theatre’s artistic director, Cal MacLean, and managing director, David Byrd.
And guess what? Two of the plays we saw — “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time” and “The King and I” garnered 15 award nominations between them. The third play, “Beautiful: The Carole King Musical” was nominated for seven Tonys last year and took home two — Best Leading Actress for Jessie Mueller and Best Sound Design.
Cal really knows how to pick ’em.
This annual trip is for Clarence Brown Theatre supporters, and we highly recommend you consider it. Alan and I even added a fourth play on the front end of the trip. We saw Helen Mirren playing Queen Elizabeth in “The Audience” and absolutely loved it. It was nominated for three Tony Awards this morning.
Next year’s trip already has been set for April 7-10.
Other trip highlights included lunch at Sardi’s with Knoxville’s own two-time Tony winner John Cullum; a late-night show by a legendary singer performing at a legendary jazz club; a reunion of Clarence Brown Theatre alums now living in New York; and some of the best meals of our lives.
Here are some highlights. If you’d like to go next year, contact Amanda Middleton, external relations associate, at the Clarence Brown Theatre at (865) 974-5654. If you go, I predict you will see some of the 2016 Tony nominees!
Alan and I arrived in New York on Wednesday and took in “The Audience” on our own. On Thursday, we headed over to the Historic Barrymore Theatre on West 47th Street to meet up with our Knoxville pals for “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.”
We thought the play was fantastic. It is about a young man with autism and it’s like nothing we’ve ever seen before. Alex Sharp definitely deserves his Tony nomination for Performance by a Leading Actor in a Play. We hope he wins.
After the play, it was time to head to a reception for University of Tennessee grads living in the Big Apple.
The next day, Friday, we headed over to Sardi’s on West 44th Street to have lunch with John Cullum, an actor Alan and I love.
“You know how you get to be a legend?” Cullum asked. “You live long enough!” He’s 85.
During lunch, Cullum talked about his career and people he has worked with. He’s a big fan of Carol Mayo Jenkins, who teaches acting at UT now. At Knoxville High School, he was a classmate of Mary Costa and Patricia Neal was a few years ahead of him, he said.
When Cullum was introduced to Milewicz, he offered the aspiring actor this piece of advice now that she is living in New York City. “You’ve got to keep moving,” he said. “Don’t fix up your apartment and have dinner parties. Get out there. Keep moving. You’ve got to be where things are happening — that’s where the opportunities are. You never know when it’s going to happen. And have a good piece ready. I had an eight-minute piece from ‘King Lear’ ready to recite at any time.”
It was such a treat to spend time with John Cullum. He will be in Knoxville for a Clarence Brown fundraiser on June 7, the night of the Tony Awards this year. Click here for info on the gala, which will be held at RT Lodge. If you become a sponsor of the gala, you will get first dibs on a room at the lodge that evening and will have breakfast with Cullum the next morning. That’s what we are doing.
As an added bonus, as we were leaving Sardi’s we spotted a familiar face at a nearby table.
The next play was “The King and I” at the Lincoln Center Theatre on West 65th Street.
We loved it. I rated it the third best play of the trip — after “The Audience” and “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.”
Following the last play, many of us gathered in the bar of our hotel for a wrap-up meeting.
I don’t know about you, but Alan and I often listen to WUOT-FM, the public radio station in Knoxville. A show we really like is a jazz program called “Last Set at Birdland.” And what was located directly across the street from the entrance to our hotel? Yep. Birdland.
And there was another great coincidence. One of my favorite movies last year was a documentary about back-up singers called “20 Feet from Stardom.” One of those back-up singers, Lisa Fischer, was performing at Birdland! We bought tickets to the 11 p.m. show. It was awesome.
My favorite was her spooky, soulful rendition of the Rolling Stones’ “Gimme Shelter.”
If you’re not convinced yet to go on this trip next year, wait until you see The Blue Streak’s next post. It’s about the food!