Tony noms come out, Dallasite among nominees


The article I did on Brian J. Smith 11 years ago, when I knew he was bound for stardom.

It was a surprise to no one that Brian J. Smith — the North Dallas native and Quad C (now Collin Theatre) alum and Juilliard grad — received a Tony Award nomination as best featured actor in a play this morning for his role as The Gentleman Caller in the recent Broadway revival of The Glass Menagerie … certainly not me.

I first saw Smith in a Quad C production of A Clockwork Orange, and as soon as he did his next professional gig (in the ensemble of WaterTower Theatre’s The Laramie Project) I set up an interview.

“I don’t know why you want to interview me,” Smith asked me quizzically (he was about 21 years old at the time). “Because you’re going to win a Tony someday, and I want my story to be the first major story in your portfolio.”

It didn’t require alchemy or tea-leaf reading to figure it out. Smith was a remarkable, charismatic onstage presence from the start, and his luster ensured him of success. So I’m happy for him — and happier for everyone who sees him. He shares his nomination glory with co-stars Celia Keenan-Bolger (featured actress) and acclaimed lesbian actress Cherry Jones (leading actress). The fourth member of the cast, out actor Zachary Quinto, was overlooked in the leading actor category.

Smith will likely win the Tony, but he does have some competition, including the legendary Stephen Fry and Mark Rylance (both from Twelfth Night), plus Reed Birney (Casa Valentina) and Paul Chahidi (also Twelfth Night).

Among the big nominees this year include gay playwrights Harvey Fierstein (Casa Valentina) and Terrence McNally (Mother and Sons) going head-to-head for best play against James Lapine’s Act One, John Patrick Shanley’s Outside Mullingar and Robert Shenkkan’s All the Way, about LBJ and starring nominee Bryan Cranston.

One of the big nominees in the musical category was the Broadway debut of the off-Broadway hit Hedwig and the Angry Inch about a transgender East German rock star, played by nominee Neil Patrick Harris.

After the jump are nominees in other major categories:

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

NBC’s “Awake” pits gay actors against each other

One of the gay people pictured isn’t real.

Yeah, we’ve heard that before.

Not the actors of course — Tony and Emmy Award winner Cherry Jones and Tony winner B.D. Wong — but the characters they play on Awake. Both play psychiatrists; both treat the same patient. Only one of them doesn’t exist.

It’s not just that they are two very talented gay actors that I have cleaved to this relatively minor point (that is part of a much bigger concept). It’s because one of them doesn’t — and never did — exist. And they are the only ones.

It’s confusing, as the series, which debuts tonight on NBC, can be. The series would probably fare better on cable, where its quirkiness would play better. The idea is that a cop (Jason Isaacs, hunky as ever) was in a car accident with his wife and son; he survived; so did one of them. But in one reality, it’s his wife who lived; in the other, his son. He’s not sure which.

And that’s where the gay therapists come in.

In his sessions with them — one in each reality — he can admit that he alternates between waking universes, not sure which one is the true on. Both Jones and Wong assure him that their reality is the actual one. Which means one of them is wrong.

There are many other changes in Isaacs’ worlds: Different cop partners, different cases to solve, but all intertwined. It’s only on the psychiatric couch that everything is separate. They are the only characters aware of the competing realities. So I found myself rooting, not for his wife or son, but for which gay actor I wanted to return for season 2.

That’s probably not a problem. As soon as they answer the question, the series is over.  I saw a screener of Awake two months ago before the network even knew when it would debut on the schedule. They dropped it pretty quick — right after February sweeps ended and before May’s begin. Doesn’t show much confidence in it.

Lesbian or the gay man… How to choose? It’s likely to keep me awake.

Watch the trailer after the jump.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones