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10 Tony Nominees Remember Their First Broadway Shows


You gotta start somewhere! The road to Broadway is unique for everyone but it often starts with seeing a show. Broadway Spin caught up with 10 2018 Tony nominees to hear about the first time they sat in a theater on the Great White Way.

Ethan Slater: SpongeBob in SpongeBob SquarePants

I saw Fiddler on the Roof and All Shook Up the same weekend. I was living in Washington, D.C. and I would come up to visit family who live in New York. Since I was a little kid I watched the movie Fiddler on the Roof probably every year at least once, maybe twice or three times a year, so it had this really special place in my heart. And then seeing it live on a Broadway stage was like this wow thing. The show starred Harvey Fierstein and Rosie O’Donnell. It was totally different. Also, I remember All Shook Up very dearly. I happen to be working with Curtis Holbrook in Spongebob now and he starred in All Shook Up. I remember watching him dance and thinking, “Wow, he looks awesome, I want to be able to do that.”


Tony nominee David Morse. Photo: Instagram, @outsiderswgn.

David Morse: Larry Slade in The Iceman Cometh

I was in a theater company and we were touring with one of our productions and stopped in New York. I had almost no money but with the little bit I had, I got a ticket to see That Championship Season — way, way, way up in the back row in the balcony. The show won Pulitzer Prize was at the Booth Theatre. It was the furthest seat you could sit away from that stage. But the actors on that stage were amazing. I was thinking, “How do I get there? How do I be up there?” That is where I wanted to be. And then years later, in that very same theater, I got to do The Seafarer with amazing Irish actors. I went up and I sat in that very same seat and looked out at the stage.


Tony nominee Ashley Park. Photo: Instagram, @ashleyparklady.

Ashley Park: Gretchen Weiners in Mean Girls

I was a Make a Wish kid. I survived cancer in high school. And so my wish was to come and watch a Broadway show.  I had never been to one and I thought that maybe it was something I wanted to do, so the summer before my senior year of high school, they brought my family to New York and we saw The Lion King, Spring Awakening, A Chorus Line, and Wicked. And that’s when I was sold. That’s when I decided, “This is something that I can manifest for myself.” That was a big deal.


Tony nominee Katrina Lenk (with Tony Shaloub + Bill and Hillary Clinton!). Photo: Instagram, @thekatrinalenk.

Katrina Lenk: Dina in The Band’s Visit

My first Broadway show that I saw was Titanic. When I was a kid and I was super excited. It had this enormous ship, the Titanic, on stage which was incredible to look at. I got to do Spiderman with Michael Mulheren, one of the actors who was in Titanic. So that was really cool to say to him, “Oh my God, I saw you in that show and now we’re in a show together!”


Tony nominee Gavin Lee (with Whoopi Goldberg!). Photo: Instagram, @gavusa.

Gavin Lee: Squidward in SpongeBob SquarePants

My first Broadway show was actually in the The Palace Theatre, where we do our show now. It was Beauty and the Beast. Before I moved to New York, I used to come here for a week and see about nine shows because I was obsessed with Broadway. I remember of all nine shows. Beauty and the Beast, was the favorite show I saw. At the time,  was working in theater in London. Whoever thought I would get to be on Broadway?


Tony nominee LaChanze. Photo: Instagram, @mslachanze.

LaChanze: Diva Donna in Summer: The Donna Summer Musical

The first show I ever saw was Chicago. We had just moved back to Connecticut from Florida. And in Florida you didn’t see commercials on TV for Broadway shows. But living in Connecticut, you get to see them.  I started seeing all these commercials and started saying, ‘Mom, I want to see some of these shows.’ At the time Chicago was the big show that I got to see. I loved it.


Tony nominee Lindsay Mendez (with Andy Cohen!). Photo: Instagram, @lindsaymendez.

Lindsay Mendez: Carrie Pipperidge in Carousel

The first show I ever saw was Showboat with Elaine Stritch. It was the revival at the Gershwin Theatre and I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. I was, around 11 and visiting from California.  What went though my mind was that I want to be nowhere else ever except in this theater.


Tony nominee Laurie Metcalf. Photo: Instagram, @leightonjewels.

Laurie Metcalf: Character B in Three Tall Women

I believe that the first Broadway show I saw was Glengarry Glen Ross. I came out to New York to do the play Balm in Gilead and we were off Broadway. I remember David Mamet was really big at the time and so was Sam Shepard. I also remember seeing Fool for Love off Broadway while we were doing our play. It was a really cool time to be in New York in the `80s. Being in New York is kind of the epitome. Chicago is wonderful. Chicago allowed us to really be working actors, survive and make a living just doing acting. I don’t think we could’ve done that in any other city, but there is just that fantasy about being on Broadway that actors have.


Tony nominee Jessie Mueller. Photo: Instagram, @innovativeartists.

Jessie Mueller: Julie Jordan in Carousel

I believe the first Broadway show I saw was the revival of Jesus Christ Superstar. Not the one that just recently happened lats year, but the one prior to that. I don’t remember how old I was, but I was visiting New York  and just blown away by the spectacle of it all.


Tony nominee Anthony Boyle. Photo: Instagram, @anthonyboyle.

Anthony Boyle: Scorpius Malfoy in Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

I hadn’t seen a Broadway show before coming for Harry Potter, so the very first Broadway I saw was Dear Evan Hansen. When Ben Platt came on, everyone clapped for him. They don’t do that  in the UK. That was really bizarre. Also, there is such an iconography to New York. It feels like you’re on a film set.