Alexander Dodge, part-time Asbury Park resident and nationally recognized theatrical set designer, attended the recent Tony Awards for the first time as a fancy-pants nominee in the “Best Scenic Design of a Play” category for his work on Noel Coward’s comedy “Present Laughter” at the Roundabout Theatre.
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Alexander is no stranger to the Great White Way – he has designed sets for Broadway’s “Old Acquaintance”, “Butley” and “Hedda Gabler” and off-Broadway for the Lincoln Center Theatre (Lucille Lortel Award winner) among other stages.
The Tony went to Christopher Oram for “Red” however Alexander is a first-class rock star winner in our eyes. And so is his fab husband Charlie Stewart.
Naturally, I needed the awards show scoop so I spoke with Alexander the day after the awards show while he was at a reading for his upcoming project – a musical about Charlie Chaplin.
TBP: Come on… the “it was an honor to be nominated” schpeel is nonsense, right?
Alexander: It really was great to be honored and amongst all those talented people at the awards. The whole night was really trippy. I really do feel that way. It was fun to be there. Of course, winning is a great thing but to be up there amongst colleagues and have that kind of acknowledgement – it does not suck.
TBP: Do you want to give your acceptance speech to me now, one of your biggest fans?
TBP: Okay, then you have to tell me Ryan Reynolds is not as unbelievably uber-hot in person as he is in pictures.
Alexander: Ryan and Scarlett (Johansson) are two of the hottest things.
Kristen Chenoworth was beautiful. Sean Hayes (“Will and Grace”) did a great job hosting. Paula Abdul is tiny. Like really, really, really tiny.
TBP: I was waiting for her to fall. I prefer the falling Paula. Do you get a gift certificate to the Olive Garden or something for being nominated?
Alexander: They already messengered over a framed nomination certificate. It has silver embossed medallion like the actual award.
The swag bag was pretty bad, though – two bottles of ladies perfume, chocolate and mascara. One of my agents said there was toothpaste in the bag last year. Where are the espresso makers, like they used to give away years ago (laughs)? We ended up losing the bags at the after party at Rockefeller Center.
TBP: In all seriousness, what has the past six weeks been like for you since you learned about your nomination?
Alexander: Finding out about the nomination was amazing – it kind of made my year.
What is really important in all this awards show spotlight is for kids to know every one of the nominees were all kids from Asbury Parks all over the country years ago. I was in Arizona looking at the Tony Awards as a kid thinking that Broadway was so far away.
One thing never leads to “overnight sensation.” But one thing does lead to the next to the next project and one day it is absolutely possible to be in New York doing what you love.
Kids here and everywhere have to believe in themselves. There is no formula to get to Broadway. There are so many different paths – you cannot think that you do not have the right background or education. Do not be afraid of rejection. Write your own rules.