Home - T Singapore

28 Portraits of This Year’s Tony Nominees

By Michael Paulson, Jolie Ruben and Joshua Barone

From left: Tony nominees Ruth Wilson, “King Lear”; Derrick Baskin, “Ain’t Too Proud: The Life and Times of the Temptation”; Fionnula Flanagan “The Ferryman”.
 
Celeste Sloman
From left: Tony nominees Ruth Wilson, “King Lear”; Derrick Baskin, “Ain’t Too Proud: The Life and Times of the Temptation”; Fionnula Flanagan “The Ferryman”.

A day after receiving word of their Tony nominations last week, actors gathered to discuss the honour with journalists. We captured their smiles, or, in some cases, soulful looks. And we asked them to share their thoughts on why they act, what they’ve learned and what they’ll remember.

“THE FERRYMAN”

Celeste Sloman
 

“It’s amazing to spend about three years of my life in the headspace of this role — I had time to just let it sit in the background, I had another baby, and by the time we came to New York, it really just became a part of me.”

“BURN THIS”

Celeste Sloman
 

“We’re asking 900 people to stop what they’re doing for two hours, and we’re given this opportunity to grab their attention. It had better be worth it.”

“AIN’T TOO PROUD: THE LIFE AND TIMES OF THE TEMPTATIONS”

Celeste Sloman
 
Celeste Sloman
 

“During one of the bows, a woman came to the stage and threw panties at us. I told Otis, the guy I play, and he said, ‘Yeah, that’s about right.’” — Derrick Baskin

“I get to expose someone’s and even my own demons. While we celebrate the best of a legend’s life, we can also celebrate him in his fullness — and ours.” — Ephraim Sykes

“I was a part of two of the biggest, blackest shows on Broadway this season. It’s a reminder to me that everything I am is beautiful, and I shouldn’t shy or run away from that.” — Jeremy Pope

“THE CHER SHOW”

Celeste Sloman
 

“I was lovingly dragged into this role. My instincts were to say ‘Thank you, but I don’t think I am the right fit.’ But the more I did homework on Cher, I went, ‘O.K., I either want to be this woman’s best friend, or I am going to go ahead and play her.’”

“ALL MY SONS”

Celeste Sloman
 

“I’ve always loved Arthur Miller. We all struggle with adhering to the truth in our own lives, and certainly our public officials struggle with adhering to the truth, as we’re seeing right now, and Miller spoke up for our obligation to serve a greater cause than our own.” — Annette Bening

“This play was written in 1947, but we’re still asking the same questions, we’re still having the same discussions and fights. It will still blow your hair back.” — Benjamin Walker

“THE PROM”

Celeste Sloman
 

“The show has taught me a great deal about how important it is to tell stories where people can see themselves onstage.” — Beth Leavel

“I’ve learned so much about bravery and courage and speaking up for yourself.” — Caitlin Kinnunen

“BURN THIS”

Celeste Sloman
 

“I can tend to be a little shy in real life, and for whatever reason when I get onstage I come out of my shell and I am able to say things that I can’t normally say.”

“KING LEAR”

Celeste Sloman
 

“You’re sitting in language that’s 400, 500 years old, and it’s a slippery fish. From day to day you can be on top of it, and other days you just feel so disconnected.”

“HADESTOWN”

Celeste Sloman
 

“The other day we had some gremlins in the show, and Patrick Page, in a moment where he reveals a flower, dropped it. We had this physical improv about how we get the flower, and it was very beautiful, and I was like, I love actors. ” — Amber Gray

“THE FERRYMAN”

Celeste Sloman
 

“I think we go to the theatre to have our hearts broken. Because it’s the only real evidence we have that we’re human. Once your heart is broken, you’re home free.”

“THE PROM”

Celeste Sloman
 

“Why am I an actor? I can’t do anything else. And I love it. I still do, even at my age!”

“WHAT THE CONSTITUTION MEANS TO ME”

Celeste Sloman
 

“I’ve gained a kind of living understanding of our country’s history. My relationship to the Constitution has deepened and become a very present, personal thing.”

“THE CHER SHOW”

Celeste Sloman
 

“The funny thing is there’s somebody in the play playing me, which is really bizarre and kind of fun at the same time.”

“OKLAHOMA!”

Celeste Sloman
 

“Playing Ado Annie has taught me that you don’t have to apologize for who you are. ‘I Cain’t Say No’ is an anthem about living life to the fullest.” — Ali Stroker

“I’ve known there’s a darkness in America, but we really expose it. It’s interesting to watch when people want to see it, or when they don’t want to see it.” — Mary Testa

“OKLAHOMA!”

Celeste Sloman
 

“The one show where they filmed — I don’t know if it was for promotion or posterity — I fell into a man’s lap. It took about four minutes for me to uncurl myself.”

“TOOTSIE”

Celeste Sloman
 

“Making people laugh is my favourite thing in the world to do.” — Sarah Stiles

“I love getting opportunities to step into other people’s shoes and tell their story. And I love uniting a group of strangers in a common story.” — Santino Fontana

“I’ve learned a lot from playing Julie Nichols. She’s optimistic and finds utter joy in what she does. And I have taken that on, too.” — Lilli Cooper

BEETLEJUICE”

Celeste Sloman
 

“Pushing away the thought of death is a problem for me. So it’s nice to look death in the face.”

“TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD”

Celeste Sloman
 

“From the public school kids who come to Sonia Sotomayor, all seem to have a similar response, which is that there actually is some importance to what we’re doing, which is deeply meaningful to me.”

“TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD”

Celeste Sloman
 

“I’ve been playing queer roles for 13 years. I feel really lucky that people can see all these varied queer characters and see themselves reflected in my work.”

“THE BOYS IN THE BAND”

Celeste Sloman
 

“That show came to me at an interesting time in my life. There’s part of me that forgot who I was. But the theme of pride kept coming up. Emory, my character, is the proudest one of the bunch, and it got me thinking.”

“KISS ME, KATE”

Celeste Sloman
 

“To call someone a shrew is to not look inside them and find why they are. To get to know someone is to understand that. That’s my goal every night.”

“INK”

Celeste Sloman
 

“I’ve been thinking a lot about the relationship between art and truth. In art, you do have a responsibility to the truth, but your access to it is as much through the imagination and through empathy as it is through some quasi-objective rendition of fact.”

SPECIAL TONY AWARD FOR LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT IN THE THEATER

Celeste Sloman
 

“Acting was my third choice. I wanted to be a nurse. Then I wanted to be a physiotherapist, but it was too expensive. Then my sister said, ‘Why don’t you be an actress?’”