#LiveAtFive with Tony Nominee Dominique Morisseau Book Writer of AIN'T TOO PROUD

hello everybody welcome to Broadway comms live at five it is Monday hi Andy it's Monday it's Monday May 20th I'm Beth Stevens I'm Andy Lefkowitz and we are here with Kaitlin Moynihan hello and I'm very excited about our guest today we have Tony nominee Dominique Morisot who wrote the book for ain't too proud what is it the life in times of the temptation yes hit Broadway hit we will get to that but first our top five this actress is making her return to Broadway in this revival play that's hitting the boards next season yes oh this is pretty cool news Marisa Tomei Oscar winner Broadway veteran is coming back to the stage this fall in a new production of Tennessee Williams 1951 play the Rose Tattoo this will be a production of Roundabout Theatre Company at the American Airlines theater directed by Tripp Coleman who most recently directed choirboy which is nominated for best play this season on Broadway performances will kick off on September 19th and open on October 15 Marisa Tomei is going to play the role of Serafina and she's a widow who rekindles her desire for love in the arms of a fiery suitor this will be though he said that's so calming right as we all know Marissa Tomei won an Oscar for my cousin Vinnie she was also nominated for in the bedroom and the wrestler and most recently she was on Broadway in the realistic Joneses so I'm very excited to see her back on Broadway yes another day another list of people can go to congratulate for becoming award winners the Chita Rivera Awards were just announced this weekend and now they honor dance and choreography and let me get to it because I've got some exciting names to read and and productions winners of note include the company of King Kong because you know there's a lot of choreography in King Kong for outstanding ensemble in a Broadway show from Sykes I've ain't too proud life in terms of the temptations won for his Broadway performance and for the female they divide up male/female so it was a tie you wear this time you're a sh lee blair fitzgerald for the cher show she plays the dark lady the big dance number in that show and Gabrielle Hamilton who is the lead dancer in Oklahoma who does the dream baby dream oh my goodness ballet reimagined let me put it that way Hades town's choreographer David Newman won for choreography of a Broadway show Smokey Joe's are in the off-broadway prize prize huh I was standing ensemble Alice my heart's Rick and Jeff Cooper man took a home the off-broadway prize for choreography Wes Taylor took it home for outstanding male dancer for that off-broadway show the whole list is on Broadway I'll come check it out and yes we called the Astaire award but now we've updated things for Chita Rivera I just like to say I mean three stage favorites are getting together for a one-night-only concert oh my goodness is it going to be epic okay so we found out today that Jason Robert Brown who is doing a residency at the downtown venue subculture will celebrate his 50th performance in that residency with a special one-night benefit concert he'll be joined by Stephen Sondheim and Katrina Leigh wait you've said that and of course 21 or Katrina link who won a Tony last season for the band's visit this will be a benefit for the Brady Foundation which works to reduce gun violence so it's a gun violence product protection organization the event will happen on June 24th at 8 p.m. at New York City's Town Hall I'm available if you want to take me as I know right seriously this will be the second time that subculture does a benefit for the Brady organization the last time was in 2016 where there was a one-night sold-out concert of the last five years starring Cynthia Revo and Joshua Henry so this night should be just as epic tickets go on sale tomorrow I think so make your plans I'm making him yeah and full casting has been announced for this West End debut so there's a West End debut of a new David Mamet called bitter wheat I'm saying it with a British style accent for y'all it starred John Malkovich who has not been in the West End and what around 30 years or so and it has been speculated that this character that John Malkovich plays is based on Harvey Weinstein so there's a lot of material there to work with but here are the new cast members Alexander Arnold Teddy Kempner Matthew pigeon and deferent Tate who has a very cool name have joined the previously announced Malkovich dune McKenna make–can and Iona Kim Brooke this opens on June 19th at the Garrick Theatre Stars performances on June 7th so there you go over here there's more and today we honored Broadway extraordinaire general manager yes so Ellen Wasser a legendary general manager Broadway was honored today with memorial service at the Majestic Theatre and tonight Broadway marquees will dim in his honor in among his illustrious career Ellen Wasser general managed the original productions of Limi zurab phantom which is still running and Miss Saigon so I keep it the big three so like I said marquee lights will be dimmed tonight in his memory Alan Worcester was honored in 2017 with a special Tony honor for the actor for excellence in theatre so um hats off to him and support and love to his family we have a few more things on the site that you all need to check out we have exclusive photos from the Drama League luncheon that happened on Friday with 53 nominees a lot and of course some productions were honored and Bryan Cranston took home the most distinguished performance award but we have great photos of some people who are in different shows getting together and just just cool stuff there and we also have photos of the Chita Rivera yes dancing gotta take pictures so there you go check that out Andy thank you thanks for having me Caitlin will you tell us a little bit more about our guests gladly yes we have fresh Tony nominee Dominic Murray so here with us in the studio today because she just earned her first Tony Award nomination for spoke and ate – proud – the life and times of the temptations we're gonna do the full title here this marks her Broadway debut and the show earned 12 Tony nominations including Best Musical so real good in 2018 she earned the MacArthur Foundation Genius grant so we are extremely lucky to have her here today please follow her on instagram at doe marie so it rhymes follow it and please leave all of your questions in the comments below please welcome Dominique and Beth Thank You Caitlin hi Dominique I'm thrilled to be sitting next to you so my first question is the most important one is 12 now your lucky number is your 12 Tony nominations for Auntie proud yeah that's right yeah I mean you know it feels good for us because it's a team effort and it and our show sort of has that mantra about team and and the group being more important than the individual and so it sort of feels like yep that's right that's that's what we're supposed to do muttering everybody yeah that's right that's great well it's such a fun show and everybody kind of knows the temptations music but maybe not the story behind it so as you were digging in I know that Otis Williams whose character in the show wrote a memoir in 1988 I assume you used that a lot I used it I use different anecdotes from it you know the the movie that they did in the 90s with the on vh1 for the temptations also use the book so I sort of used what I felt was different than what was in the movie I tried to find those excerpts that out I wanted to know a little bit more about because he was sort of um so many members of the temptations were still alive when he wrote that memoir and that he's now the last one standing and I think with his age and just with time and and with being sort of like the only living member to tell the story I think he was a lot more bold and free this time around and so he got to the bottom of some things that maybe he was a little safer and more protective with years ago well you are known from being from the great city of Detroit so there must be an incredible sense of responsibility for you because the people of Detroit will you know how they filled out the time oh yes they will they will do ad nauseam okay you know things in my inbox and I'm like lady I didn't even choreograph this like why are you coming from you know they just want to make sure everything is the way that they think it ought to be right because I feel an ownership first of these Motown groups and especially the temptations which with their longevity that's right and because you know so many Detroiters I mean it's not just like oh we this city made this group in terms of like the music industry but they like our neighbors I went to school with these people you know I mean it's that kind of history so it's you're really dealing with their direct lineage but I think that we satisfied that because I Detroit had to be a character in the story for me it's not just a backdrop you know it's not just this you know this is where they are from this is who made them what they were and and I think that that has to be integral so that when even when we're dealing with like social unrest in the story it goes back to Detroit at some point with that social unrest as well I'm just because I can't even imagine what it's like right now I'm in New York I live in LA I'm I'm always outside of Detroit doing the work that I do I can't imagine while I'm here being visible in this moment that's something you know that my city could be under fire you know I don't know what that would even feel like and I was trying to imagine what that would feel like for The Temptations you've explored Detroit a lot in your work what is it about the city I know it's your home but what is it about the city that continues to feed your imagination you know I think it's um I just first of all I think it's gotten a very limited you know narrative painted about it for a very long time and so it sort of became a part of my journey in discovering myself outside of the media narrative about who we were and so it at first is just an exploration of me and my own history I mean I have about 250 300 family members in Detroit so when I'm talking about Detroit you are literally talking about my family you know and so I wanted to understand our evolution and I think understanding that under the way the city sits in juxtaposition to the rest of the nation and what what kind of metaphor it becomes for the nation it's just all of those things compel me because I think when you it's like these forgotten cities or these cities that people write off with urban blight you know it's sort of in a way strangely kind of reminds me of the way that we talk about Appalachia you know it's just this like it's almost like these places that are considered places that have gone into complete ruin as if the humanity there has also gone into ruin that's not true right they're not abandoned people there and I it just it always disturbs me no matter where I am actually when I first moved to New York I moved to bed-stuy and the way people would talk about bed-stuy which has been my home of New York for 15 plus years they would talk about bed-stuy in a way that that's some other way and and I would just think but as kids here like people are growing and living here and how can you write these places off and in fact now those places are being overly heavily gentrified and people are setting up shop there so there's something there yeah that's magic although people wouldn't be coming so what compelled you as you're writing ain't too proud and what kept you going what really interested you about this story and how did you find the structure for it because it's a huge epic tale there five leads plus all of the kind of replacement kind of situations happening yeah how did you stick to it oh that was hard it wasn't it wasn't I let the story guide me like their journey as a group I mean that'd do half the job for you because they literally did live through you know I was I was talking earlier actually to playbill and we I was talking about the journey of the first acts of the second act you know we bring once we bring David Ruffin into the story you know it's like it's like once you bring David Ruffin into the group like the group goes up you know and so then when we take David Ruffin out of this what seemingly out of the story we take them out of the group because that's what happened it's like what are we gonna do we lose our show now or whatever yeah there's got to keep the energy yeah but you're like well the group kept going after david ruffin left so there must be something here and and and we found it so I think half of the storytelling is in them and their journey and the other half of the story structure is in our performers themselves you know from the three guys that play our lead temptations our job is be manning he plays our mhm and then Ephram Sykes who plays David Ruffin never places out and then st. Aubyn who plays Dennis Edwards that replaces David Ruffin and each of these three guys I like just look so showman you know I mean they have their own amazing like performance skill and they always keep that ball up in the air so that was for me part of the structure and how do we tell the story of this group that keeps going it's on the bodies of these amazing men who are these brilliant performers but the other half I think is also using the music to tell the story their songs get more and more political as they you know they change sound after you know from the 60s to the 70s the focus that was in the 60s on you know just being ballads that made them hot it started to get in since there's like funk funk funk adela era you know and psychedelic era and then the the world was in the war was happening and music was getting more political so you can sort of tell the story of American music and the story of this group through the time and through their own journey and the music so that helped us with the structure I was like I was looking at it like wow this is this almost wrote itself because their music just happens to keep working with everything else in the story it keeps working with the actors and the group members and taking them out and bringing them back in it just it just works and where it didn't you know we broke the rules of the music you know we bring Ephram Sykes back on right away actually and when you think he's out of his play he's right back in there taking over another song you know so we found those ways as you are creating this show what did you look besides the stories of the temptations what were you looking to in terms of musical theater for structure or for inspiration you know I did not look at what may be considered like your your jukebox right and I know that that's um I mean I honestly did not know what wait that word carried and it's always sounded like a dirty word when people were playing but I don't know I don't have any association with that being positive or negative but I I grew up on musicals I was in high school ice to do musicals I did a chorus line when I was in high school I did I was performing I when I was a teen and the chorus line and and I literally actually am NOT the best singer so I had the song I really can't sing and it was perfect but I was in once on this island in high school and that was one of my favorite musicals growing up and Dreamgirls you know I'm Sweeney Todd an all great story they're all great stories and and you know Little Shop of Horrors those are like my things right and um and so for me I sort of especially with the dream girls model I tried to just remember what big things happen at these and these at breaks and those are things so to teach me musically what needs to happen with story but then I also just I have a I'm a musical writer and you're there's so much music in your work yeah oh it feels organic frankly to me to just I feel like I understand what all stories need when they get to that you know that middle point you want to know what's gonna happen next and you want to feel it emotionally you want the music to connect to it I could just make sense to me it doesn't that isn't that the part that I felt like she how am I gonna do this yes coming from playwriting that's the part that I was like okay so I get back how do you deserve stuff and and yeah it was a journey des McAnuff who's our director was really a great person to do this with because he's been around he's been at the rodeo a few times yeah you know I had that I'm very privileged and I get to interview lots of people I got interviewed as and he said well this story's about entrances and exits and that's what we did her that's right and when he said that it just clicked to me like oh so I mean I actually feel like I wrote to deserts vision you know he told me but he wanted his Hearne table and he wanted a treadmill and I go oh okay so I can make David fly slide on out make somebody slide on there okay that's fun let's do that you know and and so him give having that clarity ahead of time actually gave me some fun parameters to create within now I know you guys have questions and we'll get to them in a second but I have to have one more for you walk me through what it feels like to get a MacArthur Genius grant just walk me through getting that caller however it works for your like I'm a certified genius I want to know funny thing is that that came at a time when I was sort of like in a very heavy overwhelmed workspace so I wasn't taking call I had my assistant you know sort of like free blocking me you know protecting me sucking the work you know and so we kept getting that I kept getting this call on my cell phones that I did not recognize and I'm like who is this calling me you know and I would I would have her like check let's look check do some email like five five where this person has like how do I know this person cuz they're like tell them you need to call me back immediately and I'm I don't know this person got a little ridiculous the day that I was you know at a certain point they had to say Dominique you seriously need to reach out it calls back and I'm saying is this this happened to me once before with the kids D fries and a lot of thinking like this could be connected to something important that I'm not aware of it must be a secret you know so I finally did a call back and they were like hi we're trying to give you an award so that was magic you know I think that my favorite thing about that award is that it takes like like 40 people in your industry so they asked your peon was them to talk to for them to decide that you are you know gonna get grants at this award so I'm like wow every time that it comes from my peers they're they're like sanctioning of me or co-signing me I just there's nothing better than that feeling right that's what the Tony Awards are guys well yeah especially but you can lord over your family that you're a genius yes that must come have love for him to keep calling me that he will not give that up but I'm like you have to it's like it's official yeah let's stamp official I don't know little brothers they'll never ever do that sauce that's true that's true alright Kate let's take some questions from our viewers yes so Alec asks what is the most surprising thing that you learned about either Otis or the group itself as while you were creating the story oh I think realizing what it meant to Otis to still be alive and still be doing this work you know I thought he was so gracious but he got really emotional when I asked him you know how does it feel to be the last man standing and and I did that told me a lot and what is what his son and what that loss meant to him and I just the realization that no matter what you do as an artist we all pay a cost to get to the things that we have to do and no one ever knows the cost but if you're gonna love an artist you gotta love them whole gotta love everything that they you got to know what they went through to really appreciate the art that they are giving you and so for me I was like wow that's something that you never he's never gonna recover from and his his art will always be the thing that helps him cope with a loss Wow yeah so Jake wants to know how did you go about fitting in their musical catalog into telling their story and using it to help push the story forward instead of just having it be yeah how was that decision making you know that was the fun part for me because I like listening to music you know I'm married to a musician my husband his name is Jay keys and he's a music artist he's a hip hop artist and so I love listening to music interpreting it and Sam oh I think this means something else I don't think this means what we think it means you know so I got to do that with you know a lot of the Temptation songs like I say I think this is actually a story song or I think this is really thematic I think this is not a song about a man to a woman this is men to men right now these are brother singing to each other or this is a man singing to his nation and that's how I think I was able to way some help there their music also be part of the story now you've had a lot of people that want to see this show but recently Oprah came I'm just gonna ask because it's Oprah what was that like for you last week yo over jumped up and down she came backstage like I saw Oprah lift off the ground you know to me felt very special I don't think I'm gonna get that one again in my lifetime but it was it was great she put us on our Instagram you know when you get the over proved oh it's just sort of makes it doesn't really matter what else I'm doing but to the people at home and to your family when a celebrity you know especially one of Oprah's magnitude nights you it's sort of that's all you doesn't the genius grant has forgotten do you not I mean it's like but all for them so I guess I'm just happy to have her award I just wanted to make a suggestion to you that if she calls you take the call just take it just pick it up it's a stranger's calling yourself strangers I don't know what's happening I think bill collectors I don't know I think we have time for one more question yeah so he's be the last question so Mary says that you've talked a lot about you know this being a group work but how is your individual nomination for your book and earning that Tony nomination how did how did you feel was your that moment for you like it's gonna be a little strange but I was not thinking of me and I know that sounds like whatever it sounds like but my concern was for my cast and I really was I mean my mom my mentee her name is story air she can testify to this because she was with me and she was like hey guess what you got you got 12 you know because the day before my friend called me she had read one of those predictions well yeah we don't know anything a real thing she thought about and we had three know and I wasn't mentioned and I was like I don't care but I was really mad that some like Derek Baskin wasn't in her at that prediction but I thought it was real and so I was a little sad and gotten used to like I whatever we take what we gave and we'll just roll with it and then later on that day I was like hey Michelle I think you were reading a prediction site I gotta go through this all over again tomorrow they came and I was like someone fun they said 12:00 I was like but what about Derek cuz like that has stressed me out today ya know what I mean so I actually felt like relieved that the cast cuz I feel like I do feel like it's a nod to me as a writer when these people that I wrote these what I think are Tony Award winning roles yeah you're nominated I feel like I did my job as the writer so getting now made of myself is like oh that's that's extra that's a little icing that's real good thank you for coming Dominique and congratulations thank you and your Oprah Award and Tony nomination and being a certified genius and all the things there will be the Opera horse yeah whether I'm very absolutely amazing and I'm sure you'll get mine now Halon will you take us on that thank you guys so much for tuning in today we are live at five every single weekday be sure to follow us where we get your podcast by searching for a hashtag live at five and hitting that subscribe button be sure to tune in tomorrow we talked to Tony nominee Kelly O'Hara all about Kiss Me Kate

3 thoughts on “ #LiveAtFive with Tony Nominee Dominique Morisseau Book Writer of AIN'T TOO PROUD

  1. This is a great interview! What a wonderful and articulate woman Dominique is.

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