The gay interview: Andrew Rannells of “The New Normal”

I met Andrew Rannells on two occasions. The first was a strange circumstance about five years ago: I was headed to the Fair Park Music Hall to meet him and other members of the touring cast of Jersey Boys when my car was T-boned (the other driver’s fault). Nevertheless, I still made it to the interview, albeit a bit late. I got quite a few “attaboys” for showing up at all.

The last was just briefly about two and a half years ago, when he was starring in a show at the Dallas Theater Center called Give It Up. The show finally made it Broadway with a different title — Lysistrata Jones — only Rannells wasn’t in it. Instead, he’d taken on a different role in a musical: The Book of Mormon, which netted him a Tony Award nomination in the biggest hit since The Producers.

ATTPAC just announced last week that The Book of Mormon would be part of its 2013-14 lineup, but once again, Rannels won’t be in it — instead, he’s starring in one of the hit shows of the fall, NBC’s The New Normal, and out actor gets to play gay … and boy does he.

Our Chris Azzopardi got to chat with Rannells a few weeks ago, and I thought it might be a good time to run the story. The next episode airs tonight.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

The Tony nominations (and what’s gay about ‘em)!

Despite a boondoggle of a webcast (at least on my end, three browsers and two computers could never load it), the Tony Award nominations did come out this morning, unlike Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, which ended up not being eligible for any because it has not officially opened yet despite previews starting last November.

It’s sometimes harder to quantify snubs and surprises since many shows close before the noms and live performances are organic things, but the lack of noms for Priscilla, Queen of the Desert has to be seen as a poke in the eyeball, as well as overlooked noms for Bloody, Bloody Andrew Jackson, which moved from Off Broadway to Broadway last season.

On the upside, the success across categories of The Book of Mormon, the show from South Park creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker, seems like an indication NYC theater is keeping its edge.

Of especially note to the gay community:

The Normal Heart, Larry Kramer’s Reagan-era play about the AIDS crisis, got its B’way debut, but peculiarly was nominated for best revival of a play. It was also nominated for two gay actors, Joe Mantello (leading) and John Benjamin Hickey (featured), as well as best direction and featured actress Ellen Barkin.

The Book of Mormon, with a lot of gay content, received a record-tying 14 nominations.

Catch Me If You Can, adapted from the Tom Hanks-Leo DiCaprio movie, got four nominations, including one for out producer Hal Luftig. It did not get nominated for its score, the last slot going instead to Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown with Patti LuPone, which closed after a handful of performances. LuPone didn get a nomination, as did her Gypsy co-star Laura Benanti.

• The revival of Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest, with gay actor Sir Brian Bedford as a cross-dressing Lady Bracknell, got three noms.

The awards will be presented June 12.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones