Theater owners and producers from around the country came to town this week for their annual convention — and the big get is a selfie with Tina Fey.
The “Mean Girls” creator has been happy to oblige.
At a cocktail party Tuesday at Bowlmor in Times Square, Fey posed for pictures with dozens of giddy “roadies,” as the out-of-towners are called. Adding to the celebrity sizzle was “Mean Girls” and “Saturday Night Live” producer Lorne Michaels.
“They’re total pros,” a person who was at the event says of the two. “Fun and accessible, not at all forced.”
The touring circuit has become a multibillion dollar business, so the roadies wield enormous power. About 100 of them are also Tony voters, which gives them even more clout. Tony nominees turn on the charm in hopes of garnering votes.
“The Band’s Visit” is likely to win the Tony for Best Musical, but “Mean Girls” has 12 nominations and Fey could win for Best Book.
She impressed the roadies at a panel moderated by her best friend from high school, who inspired the character of Damian in the movie and the musical. Joining them were Rosalind Wiseman, whose book “Queen Bees and Wannabes” gave Fey the idea for “Mean Girls.”
The panel was “smartly put together because it got the message across that while ‘Mean Girls’ is a fun show, it has some substance because it deals with bullying,” a source says. “Nobody got spinachy about it, but it wasn’t just Tina making jokes.”
Fey and Michaels were doing double duty this week. As soon as they finished a “Mean Girls” event, they’d race over to NBC’s Rockefeller Center studios to rehearse “SNL,” which Fey is hosting this weekend.
“She had a different outfit for every event,” says a source. “She must have changed in a phone booth!”
Star power impresses out-of-towners. Lin-Manuel Miranda moderated a panel with the cast and creative team from “Angels in America,” while Ryan Murphy did the same for “Three Tall Women.”
“Angels” and “Three Tall Women” are locked in a tight race for Best Revival of a Play.
Scott Rudin, the producer of “Three Tall Women,” hosted a midnight performance of the play, with cast members from “The Boys in the Band” — Jim Parsons, Zachary Quinto, Andrew Rannells — reportedly mingling with the roadies before the show.
Other nominees making the rounds include Ethan Slater, the star of “SpongeBob SquarePants” (“great kid, great performance”); Glenda Jackson, of “Three Tall Women” (“theater royalty — you almost feel you should bow”); Nathan Lane, who plays Roy Cohn in “Angels” (“he’s very approachable”) and Renee Fleming, from “Carousel” (“really down to earth”).
‘A few drinks and some canapés aren’t going to buy my vote.’
So does all this wining, dining and selfie-taking really work?
“I have to admit, it is fun,” says a producer from the Midwest. “And my staff has a great time seeing the shows and meeting people they really admire. But a few drinks and some canapés aren’t going to buy my vote. I think we all know ‘Band’s Visit’ and ‘Harry Potter’ are unbeatable.”
What if Fey slipped him a ticket to “Springsteen on Broadway”?
“That would do it!” my source says with a laugh.
Bruce Springsteen, by the way, isn’t participating in the road circus. He doesn’t have to: He’s already won his Special Tony Award. It hasn’t been announced yet, but he’ll perform on the June 10 telecast. You read it here first.
Keep your eye on “Soft Power,” a new play (or is it a musical?) by David Henry Hwang and composer Jeanine Tesori that opened this week in Los Angeles. It’s a time-bending look at relations between the West and China over a century. Buzz is good, with backing from Carole Shorenstein Hays, who may move it to New York next season.
You can hear Michael Riedel every weekday morning on “Len Berman and Michael Riedel in the Morning” on 710 WOR radio.
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