After 2 Decades in Showbiz, Leslie Rodriguez Kritzer Is Finally a Tony Nominee | Playbill

Tony Awards After 2 Decades in Showbiz, Leslie Rodriguez Kritzer Is Finally a Tony Nominee

The performer was recognized for playing the Lady of the Lake in the recent Broadway revival of Spamalot.

Leslie Rodriguez Kritzer

After a breakout performance in the title role of the 2001 Paper Mill Playhouse production of Funny Girl, Leslie Rodriguez Kritzer seemed destined for musical theatre greatness. And, in the two decades that have followed, she has delighted audiences time and again with her breathtakingly rangy Broadway belt and her many comedic gifts, both of which were on full display earlier this season in the revival of Monty Python's Spamalot at the St. James. There, Kritzer played a scene-stealing Lady of the Lake.

The Tony Awards have finally noticed: Kritzer received her first Tony nomination for Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical, a category that also includes her college friend Shoshana Bean (Hell's Kitchen) as well as Amber Iman (Lempicka), Nikki M. James (Suffs), Kecia Lewis (Hell's Kitchen), Lindsay Mendez (Merrily We Roll Along), and Bebe Neuwirth (Cabaret at the Kit Kat Club). In a jam-packed season, the gifted artist received Spamalot's sole Tony nomination.

A graduate of the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music, Kritzer has also appeared on Broadway in Beetlejuice (Drama Desk nomination), Something Rotten!, Elf, Sondheim on Sondheim, Legally Blonde (Clarence Derwent Award), A Catered Affair (Drama Desk nomination), and Hairspray, while her Off-Broadway credits include The Robber Bridegroom (Lucille Lortel Award, Drama League, and Astaire Award nominations), Gigantic (Lucille Lortel nomination), ROOMS: A Rock Romance (Outer Critics Circle nomination), The Memory Show, Nobody Loves You, and The Great American Trailer Park Musical (Drama Desk nomination). She is also a Special Achievement MAC Award winner for her solo show Leslie Kritzer Is Patti LuPone at Les Mouches.

On April 30, the morning the 2024 Tony nominations were announced, Kritzer chatted with great emotion about how this moment feels full circle, and why she dedicates it to her late mother.

Leslie Rodriguez Kritzer and company Matthew Murphy and Evan Zimmerman

How did you find out about the nomination today?
Leslie Rodriguez Kritzer: I was in bed with my husband [music director Vadim Feichtner] and my dog, and [we were] just watching like everybody else. And that's how I found out.

What was your first reaction when you heard your name?

I screamed! I did. I said, "Yes!" [Laughs.] It was really fun, and I was so grateful that they listed it and didn't just say it name by name, because that's actually the worst. I could just see my name. I was like, "Is that my name? That's my name!"

This nomination is sort of a long time coming—you've been in the business a while. What does this mean to you to get your first nomination?
I mean, it means everything to me. Doing Spamalot was really special on many levels—probably the closest thing to showing what I do the best. I just want to say a thank you to [director/choreographer] Josh Rhodes for allowing me to really do the kind of comedy that I want to do. And [producer] Jeffrey Finn for thinking of me for this. As we know, in this business, that's not always the case. And he gave me my first production contract job back, back, back in the day at the Kennedy Center, and here we are! So this is a full-circle moment. [Ed note: the Spamalot revival was first presented at the Kennedy Center].

I also lost my mother. It will be a year ago on May 9, so this entire year has been about her and just carrying on her legacy. This has come full circle for me. There is a picture of her next to the bed as I watched the nominations. [Choking back tears] I know she's up there, so proud of me.

What would her reaction have been?

Oh my God, she would have been just elated and so, so proud, and shocked, just like me. My father, who is in Pennsylvania, I called him, and he was crying. I've been doing this a long time. And [my parents] saw this as a kid, you know. They saw that I loved this world as a child, before I ever did it professionally. [The nomination] is a testament to them as parents—that they supported me and here I am. It's a dream come true.

And, also, in such a crowded season, to be remembered since the show isn't playing—that's got to be meaningful also.
Yeah, it is. It's so funny, I'm texting with Shoshana Bean because we graduated together in the same class back in 1999. And, we're nominated alongside each other. So it's a really special moment, too. All these little stepping stones towards here. It's kind of amazing to look back.

Where did you go to school?

We went to Cincinnati Conservatory of Music. So our old professor, Roger Grodsky, just put us on a text chain—it just popped up. [Laughs] All three of us were in class together. We met when we were 18. It's a real full-circle moment. You know, it's a very close community. And it's been a long time since we graduated, so this is nice to be in the category together. Very meaningful.

Photos: Production Images of the Broadway Revival of Spamalot

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