“My Fair Lady” Actor Harry Hadden-Paton: “The Point Of Doing Revivals Is To See How We’ve Changed”

Also: Tina Fey on an alternate ending of "Mean Girls."

The Chita Rivera Awards for dance and choreography had a nominees reception at Bond’s on April 30, and everyone looked lithe and ready to high kick. Tony Yazbeck is up for the shuttered revue Prince of Broadway and told me his big number, “The Right Girl,” was elaborately reimagined from the original Follies version because the creators had heard Michael Bennett wanted the role to be “rhythm-tapdanced.”

Yazbeck said, “I think Bennett would have appreciated what we did,” though he was exhausted by the end of it every night. Also nominated was Once on This Island’s Hailey Kilgore, who told me, “It’s a very physical show, but the most important dance element is showing a sense of community through movement.” Mission accomplished—even with the onstage goat!

At the Tony nominees meet and greet at the InterContinental on May 2, I asked Tina Fey if there was ever a version of the Mean Girls musical where Cady ends up with the Math Team guy instead of the sensitized hunk.

“No, I couldn’t do that to people,” she replied, twinkling. “There was a time in D.C. when Gretchen went off with the Math Team guy, but then we thought, ’It can’t all be about boys.'”

Jenny Anderson/Getty Images for Tony Awards Productions

The boys in The Band’s Visit (which got 11 Tony nominations) find themselves stranded in an allegedly dull town in Israel, making the basis for a charming and exotic musical (based on a 2007 film). At the meet and greet, the musical’s lead producer, Orin Wolf, told me that a fun challenge for the creators was casting people who could play instruments like the oud and the darbuka while also wearing costumes and playing characters. They found one guy at a wedding, where he was playing behind the guy they had gone there to check out. “And he has a taxi cab medallion,” Wolf added. An interesting trajectory to Broadway stardom, but perfect for today’s diverse climate—and one I might try, thank you, if Uber turns me down!

The multi-nominated My Fair Lady revival is also topical, considering how Henry Higgins treats Eliza when he’s at his most piggish. Harry Hadden-Paton, who’s nominated for the role, interestingly gave his ideas on this at the event.

“You can’t ignore the conversation going on around us,” he said, “and that’s the point of doing revivals—to see how we’ve changed.” Hadden-Paton, who’s 37, added that he’s the age Shaw wrote the character to be, and his Eliza—Lauren Ambrose, who’s 40—is also well cast. “We’re equals and we arrive as equals,” he said. “She chooses to change herself—she comes and finds me—which is all in the text. I’m not a puppet master.” Neither am I—but I’ve pulled some strings and gotten press seats. (I’ll follow up next week.)

ANGELA WEISS/AFP/Getty Images

I’ll leave you with some Broadway gossip: That guy from An American In Paris ain’t quite as straight as he seemed. Oh, and the cute dude from Once on This Island is dating the cute villain from SpongeBob SquarePants: The Broadway Musical. Bye! What a splendid party!

Michael Musto is the long running, award-winning entertainment journalist and TV commentator.
@mikeymusto