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Rooting for "Jerusalem"

June 10, 2011 - Phyllis Sigal
I do love awards shows. ... The Grammys. The Oscars. The Tonys.

I like to have someone or something to root for, some connection. For example, I love when blues artists who have been to the Heritage BluesFest in Wheeling or, even better, who are coming to the next BluesFest, are nominated for a Grammy. I love when I've seen the movies up for an Oscar.

But this year, during Sunday's Tony Award show, I will be rooting for Mark Rylance.

Just last month when we were waiting at the TKTS booth in Brooklyn to get discounted tickets for that night's performance, we had a decision to make — one that you can't make until the signs are posted as to what is available for purchase that day.

I've been wanting to see "Billy Elliot" forever. My husband Bruce was interested in "Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo," starring Robin Williams. But Leland, our son, wanted us to see "Jerusalem."

When it comes to movies and to theater, I often ask his recommendations and usually take them. He sees lots of movies and as many plays as his budget allows. And I respect his opinion. He had already seen "Jerusalem," but it was so good, he could see it again, he said. More importantly, he wanted us to see it.

So we went to see "Jerusalem" that night. (By the way, so did Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban. They sat in our row ... halfway across the theater, but still, in our row!)

It was incredible. Incredible. It's a play where you laugh and cry and shudder and cringe and laugh some more before crying again.

The leading actor, Mark Rylance, should win the Tony Award Sunday night.

At least I hope he does. He's up against Brian Bedford in "The Importance of Being Earnest," "Bobby Cannavale in "The Motherf**ker with the Hat," Joe Mantell in "The Normal Heart" and Al Pacino in "The Merchant of Venice."

The Associated Press' drama writer Mark Kennedy predicts Mantello will win, but he says that Rylance "should win."

Beside's Rylance's nomination, "Jerusalem" has five others, including Best Play, Best Actor in a Featured Role in a Play, Mackenzie Crook; Best Lighting Design; Best Scenic Design; and Best Sound Design.

When I watch the Tony Awards Sunday night, I'll also be rooting for "Anything Goes," nominated for nine Tony Awards. Kathleen Marshall, a Pittsburgh native, is nominated for Best Direction of a Musical and Best Choreography for "Anything Goes."

Another local connection, Francis McDormand is nominated for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Play for "Good People." McDormand graduated from Bethany College with a bachelor's degree in theater in 1979.

The Tony Awards will be broadcast on CBS beginning at 8 p.m. on Sunday, June 12. Check out the official website,, for complete listings, to see video clips from the nominated shows, to vote on your favorites and more.


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Mark Rylance in "Jerusalem"


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