Jeremy Pope and Danielle Brooks Are Besties and More Stories From the Theatre World Awards | Playbill

Awards Jeremy Pope and Danielle Brooks Are Besties and More Stories From the Theatre World Awards Funny, touching, and illuminating stories from the 75th ceremony honoring outstanding debut performances, held June 3 at the Neil Simon Theatre.
Michael Kostel

While the Tony Awards are broadcast live across America, several theatre ceremonies take place off camera—but that doesn't mean Broadway fans to have miss out on the fun.

Playbill was at the Neil Simon Theatre June 3 to bring readers some fun tidbits from the Theatre World Awards, celebrating 12 performers who made a memorable New York City debut this season. The winners has previously been announced.

Here are eight things we learned about some of Broadway’s rising stars.

1. Danielle Brooks (The Color Purple, Netflix’s Orange Is the New Black) and Jeremy Pope (Choir Boy, Ain’t Too Proud - The Life and Times of the Temptations) are best buds and in their downtime, when they were trying to make it big, they’d hang out in sweatpants and eat ice cream. Stars—they’re just like us!

Michael Kostel

2. Gbenga Akinnagbe kept getting lost in the script during To Kill a Mockingbird’s table reads, according to co-star Celia Keenan-Bolger. “Sorry, I just keep listening to the play,” he’d say. Rather than worrying about getting the part like everyone else, he was falling in love with the play, making him the perfect Tom Robinson.

3. Micaela Diamond was headed to Carnegie Mellon University after graduating LaGuardia Performing Arts School but ended up booking The Cher Show before she even left New York City. Speaking of Cher, just before opening night she gave Diamond a piece of advice: “Be quiet, but loud.”

4. James Davis (Oklahoma!) played Will Parker in high school, too. One day, his teacher sat him down and said he was taking the role too seriously. The St. Louis native’s response? “Of course I am! I’ve got to get out of here and find my people in New York!”

5. Rob McClure (Beetlejuice) called co-star Sophia Anne Caruso “strange and unusual” more times than Playbill could count. Said in a admiring way, he described the 17-year-old as a natural leader who wrangles adults during rehearsals, enjoys painting watercolors, and is often found writing songs for guitar backstage.

6. The great-grandmother of Simone Missick took her 10 kids and moved them to Detroit to escape the horrors of the Deep South in the mid-20th century, mirroring Missick's character’s journey in Paradise Blue.

7. Before introducing Colton Ryan (Girl from the North Country), Rosemary Harris (The Lion in Winter, My Fair Lady) spoke of her own pre-Broadway fame. In London, as an understudy in a show about dog racing, she used to have to walk the dog so it wouldn’t urinate during a performance. Shortly after that demeaning job, though, she got her Broadway debut in The Climate of Eden.

Michael Kostel

8. Stephanie Styles got the acting bug at the age of 4 when she saw The Phantom of the Opera in Houston. After seeing the show once, she begged her parents to take her again the next night, where in an epitome of '90s culture, she brought Phantom actor Brad Little a ghost beanie baby. She ended up spending an entire hour backstage while Little showed her how the boat and prostheses work.

Most of the 2019recipients were on hand to pick up their award, presented by a previous TWA winner or close friend. Others, like Paddy Considine (The Ferryman) and Phoebe Waller-Bridge (Fleabag), were unable to attend the ceremony.

Nathan Lane was also in attendance to accept a Lifetime Achievement Award, presented by Gary: A Sequel to Titus Andronicus co-stars Kristine Nielsen and Julie White.

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