In two acts each taking place in different eras, the new play Clybourne Park demonstrates how race issues haven’t changed much in 50 years. Jeremy Shamos plays Karl in Act I during 1959 and Steve in Act II in the present day—two of the most foot-in-mouth characters to hit Broadway in years. Shamos’ hilarity has been recognized with a Tony Award nomination for Best Featured Actor in a Play, along with three other nominations for Bruce Norris’ Pulitzer Prize-winning drama. This is quite a triumph for a play that nearly got the plug pulled on it when mega producer Scott Rudin abruptly withdrew from the production last February, due to a conflict with Norris. Stage Rush sat down with Shamos, before the Tony nominations were announced, to discuss breaking dozens of social norms on stage, Clybourne’s press-shy playwright, and almost not making it to Broadway.
Your Act I character, Karl Lindner, has stepped out of A Raisin in the Sun and into Clybourne Park. What’s it like to play that unique aspect?
I’ve made some effort to not over think the Raisin in the Sun connection. I haven’t poured over Karl Lindner’s part in that play. For Bruce Norris, it was a jumping-off point, and it’s the same for me. I’ve never seen the movie; Bruce told me that I shouldn’t. [laughs] When I first walk on stage in Act I, my character resonates with people and a lot of the work is done for me. Pretty late in the first act when I say “The community association made an offer to these people,” the people who are familiar with [A Raisin in the Sun] know what that means, because they’ve been in that living room and saw him make an offer to the Youngers. I get the advantage of my first act being the second act of something else.
How does it feel to play a character that breaks social norms and is hilariously bad?
That’s the pleasure of doing Bruce’s plays in general. He allows his characters to say things that we have probably all thought, but would never say. That’s a complete pleasure, especially within the context of a very smart theatrical event. I’ve been asked if it’s hard to say the things that my characters say. There are certain things that are offensive that would be hard to say if the play itself was offensive. Then yeah, I’d just be offensive in an irresponsible way. But because things are contextualized so well, I feel like it’s thrilling and the audience gets a real vicarious thrill. Read more
Happy Tony night, Rushers! The most exciting event of the Broadway season has arrived. As you gear up for the ceremony, watch the stars arrive at the Beacon Theater’s red carpet below! The live red carpet webcast begins at 5:45 p.m. EST.
While you watch some of the biggest names in Broadway arrive, check out Stage Rush’s Tony-related content, and you’ll be completely set to predict all the big awards.
- Stage Rush’s Tony Award predictions
- Attending the opening of Desperate Writers
- Stage Rush TV will be coming to you from Los Angeles next week
- Broadway grosses
What do you think, Rushers? Are my predictions spot on or do you think I’m off base? Who do you think will take home the gold on Tony night? What are your Tony viewing plans? Leave your Tony Awards excitement in the comments below!
The back-and-forth chatter of who will go home a winner on Tony Awards night must come to and end, as the ceremony this Sunday draws closer. Stage Rush predicts the winners below!
AUDIO: Listen to Stage Rush editor Jesse North give his Tony Award predictions on WGHT radio’s “Curtain Call” (hosted by Teisha Bader).
The Motherf**ker With The Hat
War Horse (WILL WIN)
I’ve heard rumblings of a desire for an American playwright to take the award this year, but War Horse is too commercial and awe-inducing not to win. Read more
- Playwright Jez Butterworth quotes Stage Rush’s Jerusalem review on Theater Talk. [Full TV clip here]
- The Book of Mormon Tony nominee Rory O’Malley gives his best impression of co-star, and college roommate, Josh Gad impersonating him
- The [title of show] / Now. Here. This. gang announces the winners of the 2011 Patrick Lee ITBA Awards
- Broadway grosses
What do you think, Rushers? Did you catch the Jerusalem episode of Theater Talk? Can you believe former college roommates Rory O’Malley and Josh Gad are now both starring in (and Tony-nominated for) The Book of Mormon? How much does seeing the [title of show] gang together again make you want to explode with happiness? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!
- Scottsboro Boys producer Catherine Schreiber discusses the show’s 12 Tony Award nominations and what she thinks the show can win on the big night
- The Broadway softball league kicks off with tons of stars; Aaron Tveit sings “The Star-Spangled Banner”
- Free ticket giveaway to new off-Broadway musical Lucky Guy
- Broadway grosses
What do you think, Rushers? Do you think Catherine Schreiber is on to something, or is she being too optimistic about Scottsboro‘s chances at the Tonys? Who had to wipe the drool from their mouth when they saw Aaron Tveit in a baseball uniform? For your viewing pleasure, watch Aaron’s full performance of the National Anthem below. Leave your thoughts in the comments below!
- Reacting to the Tony Award nominations
- Brad Fleischer of Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo wants to play Larry Bird in Magic/Bird
- Meeting up with Rushers for drinks and Broadway talk
- Attending the reading of new musical Xmas In Las Vegas
- Broadway grosses
What do you think, Rushers? Did the Tony nominations leave you beaming or wanting to throw a chair through a wall? Do you agree with me that the Tony nominating committee doesn’t seem to know the difference between a lead and supporting role this year? Do you think Brad Fleischer could nail the role of Larry Bird? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!
Tuesday morning, Brad Fleischer woke up to a text message on his phone from a friend that said, “bleep the Tonys.” Fleischer thought, ‘What does that mean?’ Since it was the morning the Tony Award nominations were announced, Fleischer knew it couldn’t be good. Fleischer costars with Robin Williams in Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo, which received three Tony nominations—Best Featured Actor in a Play for Arian Moayed, Lighting, and Sound Design. While the Bengal Tiger team is honored with the nominations, it was expected that the show, written by Rajiv Joseph, would be a contender in more competitive categories like Best Play, Best Direction, and also score a Best Leading Actor nomination for Williams. Fleischer, who seemed undaunted by the Tony news, said he was satisfied simply performing the show for its audiences, but noted a desire for the creative time to be recognized.
“I am on stage with the best young actors I’ve ever worked with, and Robin Williams—I have zero to complain about,” Fleischer said. “But it’s hard because we’re all a part of this play and we feel for Rajiv and Moises [Kaufman, the director]. This play wouldn’t exist without them.”
Bengal Tiger, which was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 2010, premiered at the Kirk Douglas Theatre in Culver City, California in 2009 with the same cast (minus Williams). It moved to the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles before announcing its Broadway run with the A-list Hollywood star in the title role. Fleischer called the experience a thrilling ride with no regrets. “The Tonys are that weird feeling that makes it seem like a hitch, but if the crowds keep coming, that’s all that matters,” Fleischer said. “We’re doing this for the audience.”
The Tony nominations were not the only significant event to impact the cast of Bengal Tiger this week. The play takes place during U.S. combat in Iraq in 2003. Not surprisingly, when the news broke Sunday night that Osama bin Laden had been killed in Pakistan, like the rest of the world, Fleischer was floored. “Whatever your reaction is to bin Laden’s death, as you start talking about it with your friends, you just start remembering the moments of the war,” Fleischer said. “My first thought was that I am so proud to be a part of this production at this time. You do theater to hopefully be moved by things. I am beyond interested to see how this news is going to affect our performances this week.”
VIDEO: Brad Fleischer talks about working with Robin Williams, the excitement (and reality) of Broadway, and stage stunts going awry.