Last May, Da'Vine Joy Randolph graduated from the Yale School of Drama, unclear what her future as an actor would hold.
On Tuesday morning, she was nominated as best featured actor in a musical for her performance in "Ghost: The Musical," in a role of a spirtualist scam artist that earned Whoopi Goldberg an Oscar.
Randolph says she told her agent "no matter what happen I'm going to sleep -- though i was sure to TiVo it [the televised announcement of the nominations]," she said Tuesday morning.
She was awakened by "all these texts and emails sending me lots of love." She says she first called her mother telling her, "Mom, I got it."
"She answered back, 'For real?' She was very happy and we started to get emotional. She told me when the camera pans to me [at the Tony Award telecast in June] I should say, "I love you, Mom.' "
Randolph says she dreamed of such an honor "but I never thought it would happen so soon. I thought I was lucky just to be in a Broadway musical and have a job. That was my biggest goal."
Newbie Randolph will be competing against veteran actress Jayne Houdyshell ("Follies"). Also nominated are Judy Kaye ("Nice Work If You Can Get It"), Elizabeth A. Davis ("Once") and Jessie Mueller ("On a Clear Day You Can See Forever").
Other Yale of School alums nominated include David Alan Grier for the "Porgy and Bess" revival and playwright David Ives for best play ("Venus in Fur").
Phillip Boykin, a Hartt School/University of Hartford grad, is also nominated as best featured actor in a musical for "Porgy and Bess." Also in his cartegory is Grier, Michael Cerveris ("Evita"), Michael McGrath ("Nice Work If You Can Get It") and Josh Young ("Jesus Christ Superstar").
Christopher Jahnke, also a Hartt grad, was co-nominated for best orchestrations for "Porgy and Bess," along with William David Brohn. They are up against orchestrators for "Nice Work If You Can Get It" (another Gershwin re-working), "Once" and "Newsies."
Receiving a nomination for best revival is “Gore Vidal's The Best Man,” which has several Hartford connections. The show is directed by former Hartford Stage artistic director Michael Wilson and features several performers familiary to Hartford Stage audiences.
James Earl Jones who stars in the production, also received a nomination for best actor in a play. Also nominated in that category are Philip Seymour Hoffman (“Death of a Salesman”), James Corden (“One Man, Two Guvnors”), Frank Langella (“Man and Boy”) and John Lithgow (“The Columnist”).
Jones, 81, has two Tony Awards: for 1969's “The Great White Hope” and 1987's “Fences” by August Wilson. He also received a nomination for 2005's “On Golden Pond.”
“What I find thrilling," says Wilson, "is that our revival has once again brought recognition to this great American writer — Gore Vidal — who wrote one hell of an American play. And James is one of our great American stage actors who at the top of his game. From the very beginning I had him at the center focus in this revival.”
Wilson says the the work received Tony nominations when it was first on Broadway in 1960 as well as the 2000 revival.
Some current and former board members of Hartford Stage are among the producers of the play. Led by Richard G. Costello, a senior vice president for finance at The Hartford, they are part of an investment group called 50 Church Street Productions, named after the address of Hartford Stage. The star-studded show, which last week was performing at 98 percent capacity, has a limited run until early summer.
Wilson says the nominations and ticket saleshave created talk of an extension, but the schedules of the 20-member cast “are complicated. But right now we are only scheduled to run until July 8.”
Receiving the regional theater award is the Shakespeare Theatre Company of Washington, D.C., run by longtime artistic director Michael Kahn, who was artistic director of the former American Shakespeare Theatre of Stratford, Conn. in the late '60s and '70s.
For a link to the Tony Award nominations here.
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