Tony Winner: Adriane Lenox

Among the first-time award winners at last week’s Tonys was Adriane Lenox, a theater veteran whose short but powerful scene in Doubt won her a supporting award over actresses with a whole lot more stage time (including her co-star, Heather Goldenhersh). Fresh off her win, she spoke with Boris Kachka before a matinee about why, as she said in her acceptance speech, “less is more.”

So that scene, where your character shifts quickly from seeming denial to surprising savvy, has become a key turning point in the play. But did you expect it to win you a Tony?
I was even surprised to get the nomination. I was not the first person up for this part; they had gone a different way. I’m sure the woman was excellent. But Shanley told me that when I came into the audition, “You electrified me.” So he knew something was going on.

How did you feel about the part at the time?
I had auditioned for two other things during the season, Drowning Crow and Reckless. We got callbacks and that sort of thing. But when I saw Nancy, an MTC casting director, on the way into this, I said, Now, this is up my alley. You know what I mean—this is good!

With such a short scene onstage, what do you do when the play’s going on?
Most of the time, I’m upstairs with the standbys in the show. I’m hanging out with them, chatting away, cutting up, and then I’ll go down and I’ll dance around, do a little singing, get my breathing going. And once I get dressed, I calm myself and pray and I say, Lord, here’s my chance again to go out and do something.

Did you and Heather talk about being nominated?
Not really, no. It’s very laid-back over there. She got stuff that I didn’t get. She was recognized for the Drama League Award, I wasn’t. I was recognized for a Lucille Lortel, and she wasn’t. Heather and I were both nominated for the Outer Critics Circle, but that went to somebody else. But nobody even talked about it. We just came in and did our job. Some people see it, some people don’t. Trust me, not everyone is on the Adriane Lenox bandwagon. I’m not stupid enough to think that. Even after this Tony—trust me.

Anything different about doing the part now?
The only thing that was a little distracting was that I walked through the door and there was applause, you know. So that was a little distracting. Other than that, the work is still the work. Don’t try to be fierce now, just do what you were doing. Don’t try to start acting all of a sudden.

At The Walter Kerr Theatre

Tony Winner: Adriane Lenox