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The 2022 Tony nominees share how they fell in love with theatre

May 24, 2022 by Gillian Russo
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There’s no one path to a career in theatre. Some grow up performing, while some develop an interest when they’re older. Some start out acting and end up writing or composing later, or vice versa. Some come from artistic families, while others are the only artist in their families. These diverse paths in the industry can eventually lead to the same place: a Tony nomination for their work, whether it’s acting, writing, designing, choreographing, or producing.

Many of these nominees have indelible memories of people and shows that inspired them when they were aspiring. TodayTix spoke with some of the 2022 Tony nominees about these memories, reminding us that even Broadway’s biggest stars are theatre kids at heart, just like us.

Get tickets to Tony-nominated shows on TodayTix.

Mrs. Doubtfire

Rob McClure, Best Leading Actor in a Musical nominee for Mrs. Doubtfire

I was 16. I grew up in New Jersey. I was obsessed with theatre and I took the bus in the summer… I got a ticket to see Gary Sinise in the Steppenwolf [One Flew Over the] Cuckoo’s Nest. And I went that day and then waited at the stage door — because it was a Wednesday matinee, I was the only one.

Gary Sinise came out, and I said, “Hi, I’m Rob McClure, I just did Anything Goes for high school. It was the first show I ever did. I’m so in love with it. I can’t imagine being able to do what you just did.” And Gary Sinise said, “Cuckoo’s Nest is three hours long, so my break in between shows is really short. Do you mind walking and talking?” And he took me to the Starlight Deli on 44th Street, bought me an egg salad sandwich, and let me talk all about Anything Goes and wanting to be an actor, and encouraged me follow it if I was in love with it.

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Rachel Dratch, Best Featured Actress in a Play nominee for POTUS

I was the little kid that saw Annie way back in the day and all that. I’ve [seen] a ton of Broadway shows. So it was definitely on my list to do a big comedy like this. My wishes came true!

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Michael Oberholtzer, Best Featured Actor in a Play nominee for Take Me Out

I’ve been doing plays, community theatre, one-act plays, and musicals in high school. I’ve always been doing it. It’s something that I’ve never really thought about, and it’s all I’ve ever thought about.

I’ve been able to see some [great performances] over the years. The first one that comes to mind was when I first came to New York, I was with my mom and I bought a rush ticket to see Jefferson Mays in I Am My Own Wife. It was incredible to see somebody do something like that. I remember watching Cherry Jones in Faith Healer. I don’t remember anything else about that production except her.

When you’re young and you’re just sitting in this dark theatre and you have ambitions and desires to be up there — to see mastery in front of you, you never forget it. And whether or not people got awards for those or not, it’s irrelevant to me. These things stay with me forever.

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Sidney DuPont, Best Featured Actor in a Musical nominee for Paradise Square

I never had a vehicle for for the arts, and it wasn’t until I went to a creative and performance arts high school in Philadelphia, where I’m from. It was a magnet program, a public school, and it honestly saved my life. It introduced me to opera, it introduced me to musical theatre, it introduced me to this wonderful community that I just never thought I would have the chance to be a part of.

It broke down the walls and the veil of what we think of [as] elitism, especially in theatre and television. It broke down that wall so I could see that there was a place for me. And then I was introduced to [2022 Best Leading Actress in a Play nominee] LaChanze and people who are here today who I just stand on the shoulders of. Calling them my friends and my colleagues now just feels like a dream.

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A.J. Shively, Best Featured Actor in a Musical nominee for Paradise Square

I am the only one in the arts in my family. Most of my people are educators, but always supporters of the arts, so I grew up going to the national tours in Columbus, Ohio. In elementary school I saw the national tour of Big. And there were kids in that show my age, but just a little bit older. And I realized that that was something that I could do.

The first play I ever did was Charlie and the Chocolate Factory; I played Charlie Bucket. And there was a college student named Matt Joslyn who helped direct that project. Matt Joslyn is now one of the top guys at Tectonic [Theater Project, Paradise Square director] Moisés Kaufman’s company. So Matt Joslyn has been around this whole process throughout Paradise Square with me. It’s insane — from the very, very first thing I ever did, all the way to my Tony nomination.

Amanda Green, Best Original Score nominee for Mr. Saturday Night

I saw my mom perform at the Persian Room in the Plaza Hotel, and she was so glamorous and beautiful. And then they said, “And her children are in the audience!” They put a spotlight on us, and I was like, “Hi!” That was it. I was ruined.

I did grow up in a show business family — my father won seven Tony Awards. My mother won two. My memory is usually being in my pajamas and staying up late and watching them. And the thrill of that.

This is my second Tony nomination; I was nominated nine years ago for Hands on a Hardbody. Showing up to the rehearsal that morning to watch Bring It On, which I’d also co-written — we were rehearsing that, and seeing a seat with my name on it and going “Oh my god, I’m here. I’m here.” Spoiler alert: I didn’t win the Tony, but it didn’t matter. I was just thrilled to be there.

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