Alex Brightman is ready for the marathon to the Tony Awards to be over. “It’s nonstop,” the School of Rock star and Best Actor nominee says in his dressing room an hour prior to a Friday evening performance. “I’m not campaigning [to win]. I got a nomination and that’s more than I was expecting,” the actor says, fully aware of the stiff competition from odds-to-win favorite Hamilton this year. “The win is arbitrary because I would do this show anyway.”
Playing Dewey Finn in the musical adaptation of the famous Jack Black-starring 2003 film, Brightman has seen the biggest push in his long history of performing on stage, which follows a few Broadway fumbles. He technically made his debut in the 2008 musical Glory Days, which closed after opening night, meaning that the then-understudy never made it on to the stage. From there, he performed in the long-running Wicked as the Munchkin Boq, Big Fish and later Matilda before nabbing the lead in Andrew Lloyd Weber’s take on the rock comedy.
“I’m excited about the Tony nomination, but it’s like doing a second show every day,” he adds. “That being said, all of this beats the hell out of sitting on my couch.”
As he prepares for his performance, Brightman discusses the journey leading up to this moment and how both rock & roll and a passion for theater molded his style and prepared him for the very role that would make his career.
Will this be the first Tonys ceremony that you’ve ever attended?
I’ve never been to the Tony Awards. I’ve been in New York for 11 years and [never attended] for no particular reason. I’m glad this will be my first time and going with a nominated show.
Where were you when you learned about your nomination?
I was in my bed, and my brother called me. I didn’t watch the live thing. I figured if I get a nomination, someone’s gonna tell me, and right as I thought that my brother called me. He works a “muggle job,” as we like to call them, in social media marketing. He called me and he was half-whimpering, half-applauding in his office. He’s very proud of me. He’s one of my biggest fans, and I’m mutually one of his.
I feel like this has been an especially strong year for theater…
The best. Someone called it today — I was just at a thing for the Drama Leagues — and someone very smartly called this the new Golden Age of theater. I think that’s right. I’ve been hearing more and more of that. In my opinion, any art represents and reflects what’s going on in the world and reflects the culture that sees it. Now more than ever, the landscape of theater reflects everyone that’s going to see it. Everyone is represented and not just because they have to be. No show has made it to Broadway because they went “We need a black show.” It’s because people are doing good work and producers are getting much smarter and more creative. I applaud producers for putting on shows like Allegiance and Shuffle Along. I’m loving it, and to be a part of this show is great, too. Our ensemble could not be more diverse, which I love.