Broadway’s Complaint: Theater’s Finest Share Stage Secrets and Gripes as Tony Season Arrives

Cyndi Lauper and Joan Rivers.

Cyndi Lauper and Joan Rivers.

“I’m a believer that karma takes care of everything in the long run,” Gabriel Mann, who plays billionaire Nolan Ross on ABC’s prime-time soap opera Revenge, told Shindigger last week in a leathery corner of the Royalton Hotel’s lobby bar. In person, the former model is hardly anything like his über-preppy, vengeful TV character.

“I definitely look forward to creating something polar opposite to this, whether that be in a play or doing Shakespeare somewhere,” he said.

Shindigger suggested he give Broadway a go.

It worked for Vanessa Williams, who seems to be finding success on both TV and the Great White Way.

“It’s always great to be back on Broadway!” the Azadeh Riaz-clad actress proclaimed at the National Corporate Theatre Fund Chairman’s Awards Gala in the ballroom of The Pierre. “Once you’ve made it there, you truly are accepted, and frankly, you have to have the goods, because there’s no faking it on Broadway. It’s the greatest test of talent.”

We agreed with Ms. Williams and then wished the star a happy 50th birthday before she collected her award from James Lapine.

“I guess there’s no hiding that, either,” she said with a toothy grin and an even bigger eye-roll.

By Wednesday, at a press event in the Millennium Broadway Hotel, theater was on everyone’s mind, as the 2013 Tony Awards nominations had been announced the previous evening.

“It’s a dream come true,” exclaimed Billy Porter, who plays leading diva Lola in the hit Kinky Boots, amid a swarm of fellow nominees. “Theater saved my life, plucked me out of the ghetto,” he added in his fabulously raspy tenor. “It means that my life has value.”

Mr. Porter then shared a less serious thought with Shindigger:

“I’m always trying to stay moist during the show—I hate that word,” he cooed. “So I eat a lot of Sour Patch children to induce moisture, and the other night I ate too many and then I choked on my own spit on the stage. That’s not fun!”

This reminded us of a gripe we heard from Santino Fontana, who is starring as Prince Charming in the revival of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella, following a performance at The Collegiate Chorale’s Spring Benefit.

“People have lots of strong feelings about Prince Charming and Cinderella before they see the show,” he said. “The other day, I came out of the stage door after the show with my hat on, and a woman asked, ‘Who’d you play? Were you the raccoon?’”

She refused to believe that he had played the prince. When Mr. Fontana insisted, she said, “Then why are you wearing a hat?”

“I guess she wanted me in a crown,” the actor joked.

Back at the Millenium Hotel, other nominees were starting to tire.

“That’s it!” yelled Cyndi Lauper.

“Can we walk and talk, Ms. Lauper?” one frazzled camerawoman begged, chasing her toward the elevator.

David Hyde Pierce, up for his role in Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike, was considerably calmer.

“I was surprised at how happy I was—our show got six nominations,” he said, though he did have a complaint of his own. “We had a performance where there was a woman in the front row with the crinkliest plastic bag of the loudest chips, and she ate through the entire play.

“At intermission, we were all backstage—Sigourney Weaver and Kristine Nielsen—waiting to go, and we were talking about how incredible it was that this person would crunch through the entire show. She had no idea!”

Before they entered the stage for Act 2, the crunching recommenced.

“We lost it! We couldn’t even look at each other. It was like a contagious disease,” he laughed. “We had to struggle very hard to hold it together.”

The next day, Shindigger met Tony nominee Richard Kind at the after-party for the What Maisie Knew premiere hosted by Cinema Society, Tod’s and GQ at the Gallow Green.

“You’re the only one from your play to get nominated,” we blurted.

“I always thought I was a part of the community; I couldn’t validate that the community felt the same way about me,” Mr. Kind said. “Now they said yes, they said, ‘Come to the party.’”

On Sunday, everyone took a break from the Tony madness to recognize Off Broadway excellence at the 28th Annual Lucille Lortel Awards, hosted by Maura Tierney and Aasif Mandvi. Nominees Vanessa Redgrave, Jake Gyllenhaal and America Ferrera were in the house, as was presenter Zosia Mamet. (Robin Wright spent the evening on the arm of beau Ben Foster, and he never once let go.)

“What he’s created in New York is extraordinary,” gushed Cynthia Nixon, after presenting a lifetime achievement award to Todd Haimes, artistic director of Roundabout Theatre Company. “It seems like his vision goes everywhere, and he does it with such gentleness and humility. Man, if I ran one theater, I’d be like Mussolini!”

Quite a few glasses of red wine later, Shindigger was at the Top of the Standard, guzzling Moët at Peggy Siegal’s splashy Great Gatsby premiere.

“Why weren’t you at the Lortel Awards?” we chided the studly Billy Magnussen.

“I’m not good enough to be invited to that,” he laughed.

“How do you know that? You got a Tony nomination for Vanya!”

“I dunno, I was hanging out with Wendy Williams at the Broadway.com Audience Choice Awards. Her tits are so huge! I loved her.”

And with that, Mr. Magnussen had officially won Shindigger’s heart.