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Tonys 2014: Magical moments on the red carpet, backstage

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Via LATimes: How is James Monroe Iglehart going to celebrate his Tony win? With a Big Mac, of course
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There was the TV telecast that millions watched. And then there were backstage and red carpet moments at the Tony Awards that you might have missed — like James Monroe Iglehart revealing his plans to celebrate his win for featured actor, musical for Disney's "Aladdin" with a customary Big Mac and fries.

For life's biggest celebrations, Iglehart says, he and his wife go to McDonald's and get take-out. "It keeps us humble," Iglehart said backstage after his win. "It keeps us grounded. We get a Big Mac and fries, and we go back to the house, and we kick it with our cats."

High praise from 'Raisin' director

Kenny Leon was talking to reporters backstage after winning a Tony for directing "A Raisin in the Sun" when word came that Sophie Okonedo had won the featured actress, play prize for her "Raisin" performance.

"Yes. Yes. Yes. YEEES!" he yelled. "That girl works harder than anyone. Sophie, I love you. Oh, man."

"A Raisin in the Sun" closes on June 15, but it will be going out with a bang, picking up three Tonys in all. It was nominated for five. The award for Leon was a surprise; many insiders thought Tim Carroll would win for his acclaimed production of "Twelfth Night."

The play "gives voice to a lot of people in this country who grow up poor. I grew up very poor," Leon said. "Whenever a young person sees someone who's accomplished something, it says it's possible for them."

That experience isn't something Okonedo can identify with: She's British. But she had words of praise for Leon for trusting a Brit to play an American.

"He believed I could come here and make this leap into being an American on the South Side of Chicago," she said, tearing up.

About her own Tony, she said she didn't expect a win, and she didn't have a speech prepared. "I've never won an award," she said. "This was just an out-of-body experience," she said. "I can't even remember what I said."

An early dream does come true

Bryan Cranston might be best known for "Breaking Bad," but while walking the red carpet Sunday, the actor admitted he'd thought before about winning a Tony.

Most actors start on the stage, he said, "so that kind of sets the tone and plants a seed in you of thinking, 'God, I wonder if one day I might ...' and then you talk yourself out of it, and then you hope yourself into it and then you talk yourself out of it and here we are."

Then, to nobody's surprise, he won, for his portrayal of President Lyndon B. Johnson in "All the Way." Backstage, he bantered with reporters and even brought in a Walter White reference.

"When you can feel an audience and effect emotional change in them, it's like a drug and you have to get it," he said about theater. "It's as strong as blue crystal meth."

Accepting an award onstage makes him nervous, he said — he admitted he forgot to thank the American Theatre Wing, which gives out the Tony Awards. But when you're used to hiding behind a character, he said, it can get hard to be yourself.

"It would be foolish of me to say it's a total surprise, because anybody who's nominated, one of those people is going to win," he said. "But still, when you hear your name, it sends a shock wave through you. All of a sudden, you realize you can't hide behind a character and you have to be by yourself."

Packing them in, without a Tony

A Tony can boost a flailing show, and a snub can force a show to close — both facts that hovered in the minds of many of the actors, directors and producers walking the red carpet outside Radio City Music Hall on Sunday.

Nick Cordero was up for a Tony (but did not win) for Woody Allen's "Bullets Over Broadway," which some say was snubbed for best musical. He didn't think a Tony was a key to the show's success.

"This is very much a word-of-mouth show. I think we're getting a lot of people who haven't necessarily been exposed to the film. They're leaving very happy. They're on their feet at the end of each show," he said. "And were packing them in."

A very sweet turn of events

It was an exciting night for the sleeper hit "A Gentleman's Guide to Love & Murder," which picked up the musical award, but before the show, Steven Lutvak and Robert L. Freedman said it was the conclusion of a harrowing couple of years.

The writers wanted to call the show "Kind Hearts and Coronets," after the film version of the book they based their show on, but were unable to get the rights.

"It's particularly sweet because of all the bumps along the way. It was like a roller-coaster ride with all the screaming and the vomiting," Freedman said.

Though the show has been a hit with critics, it has had a rough time at the box office, especially during the slow winter months before the Tony nods came out.

"We got through some tough weeks in the winter," Freedman said. "But our producer … stuck it out, hoping the tide would turn. And it did, and we're just very lucky."

"A Gentleman's Guide to Love & Murder" can now be called the sleeper hit of the season, winning four Tonys after garnering 10 nominations.

"Since the nominations came out — we've had sold-out houses," said Lutvak. "Once we got people in the room, they had a good time. It was hard to get people in the room."

"That's what all the nominations have done. Everybody wants to see it now," Freedman said.

alana.semuels@latimes.com

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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